It was a really trying time for Sony and their in-house studio, Evolution, to get the Driveclub franchise up and running. Sony wanted something different to anything else currently on the market, and with Gran Turismo taking almost half a decade between releases to get released, having something to counter Need for Speed, or even Forza Motorsport, would logically be a welcome asset to their portfolio. Sadly, after suffering losses from a restructuring that took place within Evolution last year, Sony has elected to call it a day and shut down the studio.
The announcement came first from Evolution Studios senior community manager for Motorstorm and Driveclub, Jamie Brayshaw. He tweeted the announcement calling it “the end of an incredible era”, and thanked the fans for their support. Brayshaw also attached a letter with his tweet to fans, explaining that the Driveclub brand would be taken over by the team at Playstation (aka Sony Worldwide studios).
The decision seems to have been a calculated one for Sony. After finishing the recent Bikes addition to Driveclub, and posting up lots of content, new cars, racetracks and liveries for the game, it seems to be as good a time as any to bow out and move on to the next project. This doesn’t seem to be a profitability problem either, as Driveclub sold many, many copies across the globe, and reached the two million units sold mark in July 2015. The game may have had some serious, deal-breaking bugs and issues with multiplayer on launch, but Driveclub ended up influencing many changes that were made to PSN back-end since, and Sony’s Playstation brand and PSN are all the better for it.
In a statement sent to Gamesindustry.biz, Sony confirmed the studio’s closing, but did not specify the reasons why Evolution was receiving the axe this time.
Comment by Sony
Regular reviews take place throughout SCE Worldwide Studios, ensuring that the resources that we have in such a competitive landscape can create and produce high quality, innovative and commercially viable projects.
As part of this process we have reviewed and assessed all current projects and plans for the short and medium term and have decided to make some changes to the European studios structure.
As a result, it has been decided that Evolution Studio will close.
It is regrettable that this decision will lead to compulsory redundancies. We accept that this decision will mean that we risk losing high calibre staff but by focusing on other Studios that already have exciting new projects in development we believe we will be in a stronger position going forward and able to offer the best possible content of the highest quality for our consumers.
Where possible we will try to reallocate people onto other projects. If appropriate opportunities are not possible within the company, we will assist staff in any way we can, including speaking with local employers and with other development companies.
Evolution has been an important part of SCE Worldwide Studios for over 10 years – working on ground-breaking racing titles like WRC, Motorstorm and DRIVECLUB.
This decision should not take anything away from the great work that Evolution has produced.
I wish the team at Evolution well. Driveclub is one of the best racing games I’ve played in recent years, and it just continued to get better as time passed. I hope that Sony hands the IP over to a developer who is just as capable.