News Article

Sony Very Nearly Disbanded Its Entire First-Party Development Division

Posted by Sammy Barker

Sucker punched

Sony’s internal development efforts have always been good, but it wasn’t until the latter half of the previous generation that it really started to transform its first-party products into major selling points. Titles such as Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and God of War III were not just great games, they were genre defining – and they helped to transform the struggling PlayStation 3 into a must-own machine.

However, things could have been different. Speaking as part of a fascinating question and answer session with PlayStation 4 lead architect Mark Cerny, Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida revealed that the company actually considered scrapping its internal development operations shortly after the departure of former boss Phil Harrison in 2008. Apparently, internal conversations at the company were questioning the need for the division.

Yoshida didn’t agree, and so he consulted then-chairman Akira Sato, before pitching group gaffer Kaz Hirai on a scenario in which he would lead the firm’s roster of wholly owned development outfits. Whatever he said, the meeting clearly went well, because Sony's first-party division has blossomed over the past five or so years. It’s also expanded under the affable executive’s watchful eye, with teams such as Sucker Punch and Media Molecule being added to the portfolio.

Most interestingly of all, it was around this time that the platform holder started to poll its internal teams on what they would like to see in the manufacturer’s hypothetical next-gen console. Seeing as that collaboration between developers and engineers has been cited as one of the fundamental reasons behind the PlayStation 4’s success, we reckon that Yoshida and his team are owed a big bonus. As Engadget puts it, from the edge of extinction to the backbone of PlayStation is Hollywood plot material.

Update: Shuhei Yoshida has clarified on Twitter that its studios weren't quite in as much trouble as it may have originally seemed. "[The comment] was a bit misinterpreted," he said. "No one would have shut down all of the studios. My comment was about the organisational set up, not about not needing first party."


User Comments (13)



rjejr said:

Does that mean we can finally get a Legend of Dragoon sequel?



FullbringIchigo said:

good job they didn't, that would have been the stupidest decision in the whole history of stupid decisions



sinalefa said:

Good thing that didn't happen, or there wouldn't be Knack.

Seriously, I feel all big 3 should have first party gaming divisions. Personally I prefer Sony's exclusives over MS's, so thank you Yoshida.



bbq_boy said:

Thank goodness Sony is back under the wise eyes of Yoshi and Hirai. Those bandits Harrison and Stringer nearly destroyed Sony's history of entertainment and technical brilliance. I pray for huge success and record sales for ps4 and ps vita game developers et Co!



Jaz007 said:

That could have been horrible. Good thing they didn't, because they rival Nintendo's first-party now.



Gamer83 said:

Good thing Yoshida isn't a clueless idiot like some of his former bosses apparently were.



Shaolin said:

Ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo PHEW! I can't begin to imagine a world without those games!

Thanks Sammy for covering such a topic as it truly makes one appreciate the games even more. Even if Sony merely reduced its emphasis on first party that alone could have been enough of a disaster.

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