PlayStation Shuts Down PixelOpus, Will Sony Become a Studio Devourer?

The end of Concrete Genie developers is more than just the closure of a small studio

The closure of a studio is always disappointing, especially when it comes from a giant like PlayStation. The company recently confirmed the end of PixelOpus, a small studio they founded in search of innovation and fresh ideas. However, the years have passed, and it seems that the PlayStation of old has gradually disappeared.

While PixelOpus was a very small part of PlayStation Studios, its closure sends a very clear message: PlayStation is only interested in high-budget AAA productions. So their studios must meet expectations or suffer the consequences. Will PlayStation and Sony become studio devourers due to their ambition? Below, we reflect on this.

The End of PixelOpus is More Than Just the Closing of a Small Studio

PixelOpus announced its closure with a discouraging message that generated a wave of criticism towards PlayStation and Sony on social media. The team led by Dominic Robilliard bid farewell with a show of gratitude to the players, who raised their voices to request an explanation.

Soon after, a PlayStation representative confirmed what everyone feared: PixelOpus did not meet expectations with its projects and was simply discarded. Consequently, their next game for PlayStation 5 was apparently canceled.

"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 was decided that PixelOpus will close on June 2," PlayStation communicated.

This move was perceived as an attack against the creative side and legacy of the brand, which seems to only want to stand on the shoulders of giants. Inevitably, the announcement reminded everyone of the fateful fate suffered by SIE Japan Studio, a company that built much of the brand's seal years ago. Fans know that PlayStation has what it takes to make adjustments and fix what doesn't work in its structure, so for many, the definitive closure of a studio seems like an extreme measure.

On the other hand, the closure of PixelOpus was announced a few days before the celebrations for Guerrilla Games' 20th anniversary, one of PlayStation Studios' favorites. All of this is added to the scandal Sony has caused over Activision Blizzard and Call of Duty, controversy where it has somewhat despised its studios, franchises, and developers.

The end of PixelOpus is more than just the closing of a small team. It not only highlights that the PlayStation machinery is imperfect but also makes it clear that the company will not hesitate to cut off part of its legacy. All to present itself as the top brand in the market and consolidate that image of the house of big studios and productions.

Where did that organic growth that Jim Ryan boasts about go? And that search for innovation and variety? Why not support those studios perceived as lesser against giants like Naughty Dog and Santa Monica? It is clear that PlayStation has had a different and successful strategy for years but should not abandon teams like PixelOpus, who bet on unique experiences such as Entwined and Concrete Genie.

While they are not gigantic and multimillion-dollar productions like those PlayStation has accustomed us to, they are undoubtedly games that give the brand personality and a strong presence. Primarily because they are titles that go beyond a formula that works and take risks with concepts that seek innovation and fresh ideas. Just as it happened with Japan Studios' titles a few generations ago.

By turning their backs on these studios, PlayStation makes a bold bet that is not well-received by players, as it detracts an important value from its ecosystem. That added value that studios like PixelOpus gave to the brand now slowly fades in favor of established studios, high-profile titles, and soon, service games.

Here resonate the words of Shawn Layden, former head of PlayStation, who always insisted on the search for innovation through experimentation, taking risks, and learning from mistakes. The executive was always vocal about how important it was to offer all kinds of experiences to players and not pigeonhole oneself into a formula that kills the richness of the industry.

Precisely, Layden was one of the industry representatives who lamented the closure of PixelOpus since he knows firsthand what a studio of this type represented within PlayStation. Likewise, he is aware of the change of course of the brand with Jim Ryan at the helm.

"If all your teams look and act the same way, if they all share the same story and point of view, products will not evolve and eventually become opaque and unimaginative. Equality is the death of innovation and creativity," the executive affirmed in 2019.


The history of PlayStation is full of successes, but also of big stumbles and controversial decisions. Its strategy based on big productions has taken a heavy toll over the years and, to settle its debts, it has had to make sacrifices and close several development studios.

Incognito Entertainment, Zipper Interactive, Guerrilla Cambridge, Bigbig Studios, Evolution Studios, and Manchester Studio are in PlayStation's studio graveyard. The worrying thing is that they all have one thing in common: they closed their doors for not meeting expectations after a review process by Sony.

Obviously, the company must verify what works and what doesn't in its strategy since this way it can make necessary changes to optimize its business. But is it really necessary to end entire teams that were an important part of its identity? The death of studios like PixelOpus and Japan Studios is still worrying because other similar teams could be at risk now or in the future.

Are other studios in danger?
Are other studios in danger?

Recently, Media Molecule announced the end of support for Dreams, a title that clearly did not live up to the promises of its ambitious concept. At the same time, the studio lost its co-founder Mark Healer. Therefore, it is inevitable not to worry about the future of the studio even though it already has a new project in the pipeline.

On the other hand, Deviation Games, a studio backed by PlayStation, suffered a wave of layoffs a few days ago, and it is unknown what will happen to its PS5 title. To make matters worse, rumors suggest that PlayStation canceled a AAA shooter from Final Strike Games, a company that was also a victim of layoffs due to the project's failure.

PlayStation has already admitted that it has had to cancel many games to achieve success. The question is whether it will become a studio devourer to maintain its position. Especially since it will soon enter the realm of service games with projects from various studios. These types of games are always a toss-up and can represent a risk for other teams, especially if they don't meet Sony's expectations.

What will happen to Media Molecule, Bend Studio, Housemarque, Team Asobi, Firesprite, Haven Studios, Valkyrie Entertainment if they fail in their next or first project? Naughty Dog, Polyphony Digital, Santa Monica Studio, Sucker Punch Productions, Insomniac Games, and Bungie seem far from danger even if they stumble, but the situation seems different with the other mentioned teams.

Jim Ryan has insisted on the idea that PlayStation is the home of memorable games, where visual spectacle, graphic muscle, great stories, and immersive worlds reign. Undoubtedly, the company has delivered us games with incredible production values in every way and, surely, it will continue doing so in the coming years. Despite this, it is worth asking at what cost and what is it willing to give up to fulfill its promise.


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