Former Sony Worldwide Studios head Shawn Layden has voiced his disappointment over the closure of Concrete Genie developer PixelOpus. The first-party developer will be shuttered on 2nd June 2023, to which Layden responded: "This is a deep cut. So loved working with this team and watching them level up to deliver the genre busting, Concrete Genie, all while maintaining a culture of support, inclusion, challenge."
Concrete Genie released on PS4 shortly after Shawn Layden stepped away from his role at PlayStation, so the title was in development for much of his tenure. He wished every employee at PixelOpus the very best for the future since "a new adventure awaits".
Also responsible for the beautiful PS4 indie game Entwined, the San Mateo studio will close its doors for good at the start of June. As for why PixelOpus is shutting down, Sony said: PlayStation Studios regularly evaluates its portfolio and the status of studio projects to ensure they meet the organization’s short and long-term strategic objectives. As part of a recent review process, it has been decided that PixelOpus will close on June 2."
The team did have a PS5 game in development, as job listings pointed towards a title produced in Unreal Engine 5 in collaboration with Sony Pictures Animation. Many PlayStation fans yearned for a Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse spin-off experience, but even if that was what the studio was cooking up, it appears it won't see the light of day anymore.
In a September 2021 interview, Shawn Layden explained he left his position at PlayStation as he became burnt out with the industry. After helping bring to market PS4 exclusives like Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War, he felt it was "a good time to step off on top and allow another generation to take the PlayStation 5 to market". Shawn Layden now works at Tencent as a strategic advisor.
New adventure awaits 🤔
Hopefully this means the 9 man team are moving onto another Studio, Sony owned or not that would be great for them.
Shame on Sony on this closure!
@Total_Weirdo Happens to a lot of studios and not just from Sony, Microsoft shut down Fable creators lionhead Studio in 2016 and to xbox fans that was a massive game. Sometimes restructuring is necessary.
As sad as it is that they're closing (I've waved the "Concrete Genie is very underrated" banner for years), I have to wonder if Pixelopus's latest wasn't doing well behind the scenes.
Layden was a big champion of the smaller projects so I can fully understand his disappointment.
I don't think it changes the fact that a lot of indie studios are now filling this space with similarly scaled projects, though.
Sony has done a good job uplifting those games, too, and the outcome is largely the same for the platform.
Obviously wish all the best to the talented PixelOpus folks, though! Had the pleasure of meeting/interviewing the team a few years ago and found them extremely humble and passionate.
@UltimateOtaku91 I agree with your point as its just another day in business, but using Microsoft's Studio/Dev mgmt is not the best example. Just saying.
Funny how people care about this game now. Everyone had a chance to go out and support it and they didn't. Will people learn a lesson from this? No, they won't. They'll continue to support the big titles and that's about it.
We have to start looking in the mirror instead of blaming companies. Why are there so many superhero movies, game remakes, etc? That's what we want whether we want to admit it or not. That's where the money is going.
No problem Shawn, strategically advise Tencent to offer jobs to all of them.
takes a break from counting Tencent bag 'oh...that sucks.' * goes back to counting cash.
Such a shame, I loved both their games, was looking forward to their next game.
I know they were a tiny studio that was struggling to staff up, but I’d love to know more about why this happened. Seen many jumping to conclusions based on so little information.
Hoping the 10-20 staff can be taken into other PS studios if they want
@KaijuKaiser To be fair, people didn't have to buy Concrete Genie to be excited for whatever the team does next. (Although obviously big sales for CG would have given the studio more leeway.)
As sad as it is, though, I think if whatever project they were working on was looking amazing internally, there's no way they'd have ever shut the studio down. So it's probably safe to assume it wasn't coming together, which obviously happens!
I think its a shame. Concrete genie was good fun, didn't really like entwined though.
But its yet another hit to the diversity Sony requires in its first party line up. I can only think something must have happened behind the scenes here because i cant believe the studio was expensive to run
@KaijuKaiser You're right. Same could be said with Japan Studio, and I've played many of their games over the years.
But the only problem with their games is that they weren't marketed well, or I guess too experimental for PlayStation.
But it also just comes down to Sony itself as well. They think the product can sell by itself, it doesn't need marketing or advertising, PlayStation included.
With all the acquisitions going on, couldn't they just sell them on thus unacquiring them? Or would that cost more than shutting them down?
I agree with Shawn's past statements though, they need smaller games to be made, for more push towards varied games, while supporting or complimenting small game releases between the big blockbuster titles they've been known to push out.
The tech industry has seen mass layoffs this year. All things considered if Pixel Opus is the only casualty then that's a pretty promising sign from PlayStation studios considering they've greatly added to their numbers then most.
@Enigk That depends, Sony may want to keep the IP's and move the staff to one of their other studios, plus the game they were making could get passed onto another sony team.
When selling a developer the buyer would expect the IP and staff to come with it.
Obviously teams like this and their projects were something he was passionate about, but that space is filled by indies now.
There's a lot to be excited about there too - Humanity looks like something from the PS1 days. Intelligent Qube keeps coming to mind.
@UltimateOtaku91 Nope, a Dev wrote about how he hopes that he and everyone else can land on their feet again because their future is uncertain
@UltimateOtaku91 oh my god i forgot about fable !!!! The hell is M$ doing?!?!
@thetraditional The thing is that's happening more than it's ever happened, it's just those projects are coming out of independent, creative teams rather than first-parties.
The end result is the same, though.
As someone rightly mentioned in the comments, Humanity is peak Japan Studio.
@nomither6 They moved the IP to playground games which is a weird decision as they make racing games, hence why they are having development problems.
We all are. Concrete Genie was a breath of fresh air from PlayStation Studios. I very much enjoyed getting that platinum trophy. Studio closures are nothing new in the world of video games but I was really looking forward to their next project.
A small studio making a game on a new engine…even if it wasn’t up to scratch and Sony wanted to scrap it, surely they could start a new project. All Sony have done is lose a studio because…well, probably because they don’t make the most commercially successful games. Short term vision from Sony. Boo.
To be fair Fable 3 promised so much and only delivered on half those things.
@KaijuKaiser - Thank you! You pretty much said exactly what I wanted to say, but better detail. However I too have to add my two cents on the matter.
Every time someone here says "I want something different and unique" and then a game like Concrete Genie comes along, and it IS different & unique, people don't buy it, BUT as soon as it comes to PS Plus, SUDDENLY now you're interested??? And I know a LOT of people HERE did exactly that, and then you lot wonder why Sony isn't trying to make those AA & Indie games? Even more ironic considering the heat Sony got during those first 2-3 years of the PS4 for their 'heavy focus on AA & Indie Titles, it's like everyone wants to pretend 'IndieStation' never happened...
This is why studios like Lince Works (Developers of Aragami) were closed down, because people didn't buy the game, instead resorting to "Well it's on Gamepass" and STILL didn't support it, further proving Subscription Services are detrimental to gaming (And the TV, Film & Music Industry) "Oh but this game had 3 Million Players in the first week", okay but engagement numbers aren't going to pay the dang bills.
And I don't want to hear this "Oh it failed because of poor marketing", in this internet driven age, that excuse don't fly, especially considering Concrete Genie, Aragami & Aragami 2 had multiple videos dropped on these games months even years before these games released, and there have been many examples of smaller titles releasing with little to no marketing and still ended up being successful.
Absolutely a sad day and hoping everyone finds work. A small silver lining is that, at least when Concrete Genie was released, PixelOpus was the smallest PS studio with less than 30 people IIRC. It probably wouldn’t be that difficult to find internal positions at other Sony studios for most of the team.
Sony closing down single player studios.and acquiring online studios 🤔😒.shawn layden is cool.but jack tretton is the g.o.a.t. 🐐 👑.word up son
Herman doesn't seem to like smaller games
@KaijuKaiser same like when I see people cry over Gravity Rush 2 and Japan Studios like where were you when the game was released.
Oh you say PS didn't market it? They had E3 booths, a demo and a short anime to promote the game.
@JustPlainLoco You said EXACTLY what I was going to, word for word!
@Powerplay94 those people, including myself, probably bought it. The problem is that the average gamer, who doesn't comment online, didn't.
I have mixed feelings about it. But at the same time I can see the changing landscape of gaming would compel Sony to focus on their identify around higher budget devs because only some companies can fund those.
In some ways it makes sense to rely on indie partners for small, creative output since those games tend to come out of nowhere from less known devs. So logically I can see that it's the right way around, but emotionally I'm feeling nostalgic.
@KaijuKaiser @JustPlainLoco I’m with you. I grow fatigued with the complaints that Sony lacks innovation and is so boring and all they make is story driven third person action games, and completely ignoring Sony’s more creative works that these complainers are just simply not buying or playing. Concrete Genie, Gravity Rush, Dreams, Bound, etc, etc… Meanwhile I expect these same players buy the umteenth installment of FIFA or COD.
I mean, it’s fine — the market speaks, and Sony has to produce what sells. But I just wish people would stop complaining that Sony doesn’t make trailblazing or innovative experiences. They do. It’s just nobody buys them.
Yeah sure, sucks for anybody to get fired but also gotta remember that while yes gaming is entertainment it’s also a business and if you’re not producing you gotta trim the fat. Respectfully they had to go
@KaijuKaiser Its the same thing all the time. People sleep on all the unique creative stuff with a weighted blanket and warm milk but are wide awake when sony annoucnes another cinematic hyper realistic game, when capcom announces the 34th resident evil or 78th street fighter, or when fromsoft announces their 40th souls game. Its not until we lost those great developers that everyone wants to finally acknowledge them
the comments concerning "no love for small games" reminded me of a comment by one of the housemarque employees. I forget the exact wording, but it was about that it is difficult to stand out from the crowd with small games like what they were doing before returnal. Fortunately they managed with returnal to transfer their ideas to something more visible.
@JustPlainLoco Yea im with you especially with that marketing line. I know marketing is important but I dont exactly need these companies to constantly shove their games in my face ya know? I dont just wait for whtever major event to give me my fix either. I go to youtube, twitter, gaming websites just like this one and I search for these kinds of games. As someone who has long been fed up with getting the same stuff from these AAA devs I'm always on the lookout for devs like Platinum, tango, team ladybug, flying wild hog, soleil, vanillaware, whatever chinese developers, bokeh, inti creates, wayforward, gendesign, etc. I feel like too many people kinda just sit around instead of just taking a few minutes to look for those stand outs
@UltimateOtaku91 I’m sorry but saying that “others have done it too” doesn’t justify it in the slightest.
This is sad because we’ve seen Sony buying tons of multiplayer studios that haven’t released a single game while at the same time they’re shutting down a studio creators of unique experiences such as Concrete Genie, it just doesn’t seem fair and proves again that resources that could’ve been used to fund single-player experiences is being spent seeking their live-service cash cow.
@KaijuKaiser @JustPlainLoco @Pepsiman_100
Exactly! People say games weren't marketed enough but forget that a smaller budget title means a smaller marketing budget. You cant spend the same on marketing a game like Concrete Genie as you would Spiderman 2 because the return wont be the same.
Like others said the problem isn't that the kind of people here don't buy these games it's that the mass market casuals don't and they're the big money. It's kind of a statement that Sony isn't that interested in the niche markets anymore only the mainstream mass casual market. Which is heartbreaking of the reason you always loved Sony is the 1st party quality on experimental games.
Only just seen this now. This is heartbreaking to see. That studio clearly loved what they were doing and putting so much love into their game, not to mention their interaction with the fans. They deserved way better then what they got.
@KaijuKaiser beautifully said
It’s a sad turn of events. I feel like the PS3/PSP era was a time when Sony were backing all different levels of games, from indies to triple A. Now they only want the prestige triple A and the library feels much smaller and less diverse as a result. (It’s still good, but not quite as good for me at least)
Yeah I know people get hyped and buy those bigger titles more but…you’re Sony you can do more to help sell the double A and experimental titles too. And maybe those studios if nurtured and supported can make you a ‘prestige’ title later like Housemarque did with Returnal.
Saddened yep. Layden and Yoshida know what makes smaller budget games great. Insomniac's Song of the Deep, Obsidian's Pentiment. Bayonetta Origins by Platinum. Hi-Fi Rush I don't count as the same thing. That Vib Ribbon comment mattered on that stage. Sony gives me less reasons to use their consoles for first party doing this. This gen Sony wants the big stuff. Japan Studio gone. Pixel Opus gone. Did they market either studios games well/let alone give them a chance to build up a studio like Housemarque from smaller games to Returnal nope. If it wasn't for Dreams being a live service it would be dead too which would be sad.
If Pixel Opus couldn't even get to Returnal like status over time because Sony don't have the money/patience after 1 game from them besides their earlier games what was the point in supporting them in the first place. What about eshop games does Sony even do those anymore, they did PS3/4 era? Even Microsoft I think gave up on Xbox Live Arcade smaller budget games too after the 360 era didn't they? Media Molecule could die eventually. Asobi won't because they are like London Studio a peripheral supporting studio but if Astrobot wasn't free on PS5 we wouldn't even have any studio other than Polyphony making GT7 a total joke on the Japan side of creative studios like we used to get of Team Ico, Siren, the many other ones over the years on PSP that got remasters like Loco Roco, Patapon.
I still laugh at idiots that think oh Japan Studios should have made JRPGs they did in the past but also they aren't stereotypical either they made tons of varied games big and small budget, artsy titles, fun titles, it's just they barely got marketed in EU/US and no one really bought them besides the small audience that does no matter what they did. So Sony's fault and customers faults.
If Sony wants me to go PS1-3/PSP/Vita for their IPs that are more varied mature and family friendly, more exciting mechanics, personality, no tv show/movie pushing, bad nostalgia pandering they can't even do well even because I know more than the brand I know the games inside and out betas, prototypes, dev commentaries, I know. Game genres and trends I have no interest in. I may be like others in a minority wanting creative games but I'll keep doing that old game second hand market buying or go to Nintendo like I already have these past few years because while I support Sony's niche creative games they clearly don't care or want my money. So why would I have my PS4 around other than a third party machine and that's it. Same with my Xbox One third parties and that's it. The retro consoles keep getting games from the second hand market from me. If they want my money they need to try harder.
Guess I jinxed them after trying Concrete Genie and finding the studio to be "at least some of the folks to possibly carry on the torch of Japan Studio". Hopefully Media Molecule isn't next.🙄
It felt like Playstation really went downhill after Shawn Layden left.
I'm sure he can cry into the money he got for going to tencent.
@SolaceCreed The whole Fable franchise promised so much and never delivered. I thought everyone considered those games disappointments?
Yeah a new one won't be helping Xbox. Xbox should focus on not butchering its known IPs such as Halo.
PixelOpus isn't a "real" studio, is it? I think it was a student project that came out of Playstation University. 15 men at most. I think they will all get a new job within Playstation Studios.
@TommyNL - That tends to happen, when the studio behind PlayStation All-Stars; Superbot, were closed down, majority of the employees were absorbed into 3-4 of PlayStation's First-Party Studios, I know Santa Monica Studio & Bend Studio were 2 of them.
@3Above - Thanks, and you made an excellent point as well about how a 'smaller budget title means a smaller marketing budget', I failed to consider this, but I've never understood that 'poor marketing' excuse that people are so fond of, especially in this internet driven age, not to mention; do people TRULY expect Sony/PlayStation to plaster a small title like Concrete Genie on buses, trains & billboards like they did God of War, Spider-Man, The Last of Us & Ratchet & Clank? The amount of money that would cost would probably cost them HALF of what Concrete Genie's budget was, so even if it seems to have sold well enough (It did chart on NPD three times, granted not very high each time), the marketing cost on top of the budget, they likely would have lost money.
Hell it sounds like Concrete Genie's sales wasn't even the reason the studio was closed down, but rather Sony/PlayStation wasn't impressed with what they were making, and while I still think it was a mistake to shut them down, as I do believe every studio should have 3 chances to prove their worth, but I get it from a business standpoint, I don't like it, but I get it.
@KaijuKaiser Based on this logic, Sony should just go all in on free to play games and yearly sports games because “they make the most money”. Your mentality is terrible for gaming and only good for shareholders pockets.
@ThroughTheIris56 if you look at shawns twitter you see why he is that crazy.
I never like hearing about Studio Closures and/or people losing their jobs so I hope the staff of Pixel Opus are not impacted for too long.
I must admit that I never played any of their games and that they didn't really appeal to me enough to warrant buying. There was always something that appealed more to play - so even if on PS+ and 'free' to play, there was always something I wanted to play 'more'...
That being said, I don't expect 'every' game to appeal to me and/or make me want to play. I do think that they added to the variety and seemed like they made 'quality' smaller games with their own unique 'charm' so its still a shame to see them closed.
@JustPlainLoco Another factor is that their 'next' game may not be as far along as Sony expected, meaning they are faced with funding the Studio for longer, increasing the 'cost' involved in making that game (Wages, Overheads etc etc) - meaning that it would need to sell even more copies than they 'predicted' initially or lose their profit margin.
They decide to cut their losses now instead of ploughing more money into something that isn't going to sell 'more' to justify the extra cost. If its expected to sell 2m, then spending another 'year' developing it, spending 'more' money on it to reach its potential and sell 2m could make it financially too 'expensive'.
I am sure that's why we see MANY games pushed out - because the 'costs' required to polish and optimise properly would eat into their 'profits' - its better to push it out and get money coming in to start recuperating their initial investment. If it doesn't recoup 'all' costs, at least its recouped Some and overtime, could become profitable - if not, post launch support is pulled (Anthem) or significantly reduced (Battlefield) to minimise losses.
i would be surprised if 5% of the playstation community played entwined, concrete genie or were even aware of their existence. i don't know why pixel opus was purchased by sony in the first place. that being said, perhaps there was an opportunity there to really shine but the team was never given a chance to reach its full potential. sounds like a misguided purchase and premature decision to sever ties in the end, but all the best to the development team going forward.
@Porco - PixelOpus was not purchased/acquired, they were created under PlayStation, just like Bend Studio, Santa Monica Studios, Polyphony Digital, London Studio, San Diego Studio, XDev, etc.
@JustPlainLoco thanks for clarrifying. i read the wiki page and apparently the studio was formed via the recruitment of university students from a game development program. the team consisted of 9 members since 2014, however, so it did not branch out or grow to anything substantial. this is a strange in-house studio for sony in either case as it was not given many resources and was neglected.
I'm sure they'd have seen success maybe launching there new games day one on PS+ like Stray.
@nhSnork Media Molecule and Asobi are the last of that old creative PlayStation magic. I hope they last it wouldn't be the same without them. Like there is Gran Turismo 5 (did make enough back likely) and Last Guardian wasting money.
Unfortunate Pixel Opus weren't able to show off more of their skills further down the line like others that were close to PlayStation and proved themselves with small games to the bigger ones over time.
That or lacking creative PSN titles like we used to get on PS3/PS4 (even a few niche VR games were made by other PS studios) or Indie like first party experiences that seem to only be possible by independent studios like Playtonic with Yooka Laylee, like Bokeh (old Japan Studio Siren devs I think), like Bloodstained's devs and others that are run by veteran developers or smaller Indies.
Not surprised even the Everybody's Golf studio went to Switch to release their golf game. Not published by Nintendo but at least more respected over there I bet due to how Mario Golf has been and disappointing fans.
In my opinion, Sony should've kept Pixelopus as a first-party studio.
For me, here's the thing :
1) You tell your big studios to make huge AAA games in order to sell them at 70 bucks and make a great profit out of them.
2) You tell your small studios to make indie or AA games in order to put them on PS+ on day one and sell a lot of subscriptions.
There are big games meant to be sold in coutless units (the ones that Sony seem to adore) but there are small games that aren't meant to sell many units (the ones Sony seem to avoid) and the challenge isn't to ignore those small games but to make them profitable by putting them on a subricption service day one and enouraging people to discover them since these people don't see themselves spending 40 ou 30 bucks on these small games...
I share his disappointment in Sony's decision, was looking forward to PixelOpus' future projects.
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