The news today that Sony have decided to close Studio Liverpool came as quite a hard pill to swallow.
Having grown up playing games developed by Psygnosis, and then Studio Liverpool when they were absorbed by Sony Worldwide Studios, it was one of my journalistic highlights when I got to meet some of the team members at a Sony event in Manchester – and then feel like I had grown to know them via the medium of Twitter. It is because of these wonderful people I felt compelled to give my account on exactly why I feel the loss of Studio Liverpool is such a blow to the UK development scene.
Although Studio Liverpool have been in existence for 28 years – 17 of which as Psygnosis and, from 1993, 17 years as a Sony owned studio – I was first introduced to their fantastic work in the days of the PlayStation One. Incredible titles such as Destruction Derby, Rollcage, G-Police and Colony Wars soaked up so much of my childhood, however I owe my gaming heart to arguably the most influential game the PlayStation ever saw, WipEout.
As anyone who knows me knows, I adore WipEout - so much so I wrote a retrospective piece a little while back on the series. I could go on ad nauseum about how fantastic it really is, but instead I’ll urge you to go and discover why the series can’t be toppled by anybody else who dares try.
Although WipEout may have been the highlight of everything the studio has ever made, it’s rich back catalogue of incredible titles just goes to show that Sony’s oldest and second largest in-house development studio had made a massive impact to the gaming landscape. Destruction Derby and Rollcage both absorbed countless hours of my time, and the striking art style that permeated every single one of the studios titles showed just how trailblazing the staff were.
It’s sad to see the doors closed to not only a studio full of incredible talent – who will no doubt be eagerly snapped up by developers across the world – but it’s also sad to think that the fantastic community that was built around its rich history could wither away now that the studio isn’t there to keep fans eagerly awaiting their next announcements.
Sure Sony own the WipEout franchise and so will probably churn another few out if that’s what fans want, but already these possible sequels feel hollow. WipEout formed a complete image for the PlayStation when it launched in Europe, it pioneered the use of licenced music in games, and it continually pushed the visual bar on every console it graced – even now PS One Wip3out is impressive to look at, and PS3 launch title WipEout HD Fury looks better than many newer games, and you can’t deny that WipEout 2048 is the series best entry.
It’s no word of a lie then when I say that the folks that work at, or have worked at Studio Liverpool have influenced the entire face of gaming. They were there in the 80s to provide excellent, and much sought after, 8 and 16 bit tiles; they were there at the dawn of the PlayStation to usher in a new era in computer technology, and they’ve always been the UK based studio that has pushed forward the boundries of what we all thought were possible on new and current hardware.
Studio Liverpool may be gone, but to me they’ll never be forgotten.