Sony has confirmed that Japan Studio, its internal video game developer based in Tokyo, will essentially wind down and refocus around a single team. In a statement to IGN, Japan Studio said as of April 1st it would be “re-centered to Team Asobi, the creative team behind Astro’s Playroom, allowing the team to focus on a single vision and build on the popularity of Astro’s Playroom.” In other words, get ready for more Astro games.
Astro’s Playroom is a well-received title packaged with every PlayStation 5 console. It’s a 3D platformer designed to show off the advanced haptic feedback of the new DualSense controller. Before that, the same team developed Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, widely considered to be the standout exclusive PlayStation VR title.
VGC previously reported today that the “vast majority” of Japan Studio staff were being let go as Sony declined to renew their annual contracts, which run until the end of the fiscal year on March 31st. Some staff are said to have been reassigned to Team Asobi, while others are reportedly joining Bokeh, a new studio founded by Silent Hill and Gravity Rush director Keiichiro Toyama.
While Team Asobi’s work to date is acclaimed, Japan Studio has been an important part of Sony’s first-party PlayStation development efforts for decades. It created series like Ape Escape, Patapon, and LocoRoco, while also assisting with development on titles like Bloodborne and The Last Guardian. Before leaving last year, Toyama led a division that was responsible for the Siren and Gravity Rush games.