As of tomorrow, Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan Studio will undergo a reorganisation and will entirely focus on Team ASOBI moving forward. The result is a lot of developers have been leaving the studio ahead of this restructure. The latest of those is Gravity Rush character designer Shunsuke Saito and Kentaro Motomura, who has worked on a number of titles in the studio.
Saito was character designer and animator for Gravity Rush, roles he reprised alongside art director for the game’s sequel, Gravity Rush 2. He hasn’t mentioned what he will be doing next. Motomura was Senior Producer on titles such as Dark Cloud, WILDARMS, Soul Sacrifice, Bloodborne, and Everybody’s Golf. He will remain in game development although he hasn’t said whether he will move to a new studio or strike out on his own. The duo follow other notable personnel to leave the studio, such as Masaaki Yamagiwa, Masami Yamamoto, and Teruyuki Toriyama. Meanwhile, Keiichiro Toyama left the studio to form Bokeh Game Studio with Kazunobu Sato and Junya Okura.
Sony confirmed last month that SIE Japan Studio would be undergoing a restructure beginning on April 1. The studio will be “re-centered” to Team ASOBI so they can concentrate on the success of Astro’s Playroom. At the time of release, designer Nicolas Doucet stated there were no plans for DLC for the game, or for a sequel, but that seems to have changed. Any other titles will see their external production, software localization, and IP management handled by PlayStation Studios.
Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan continues to insist the Japanese market is “incredibly important” to the company. This is despite rumors the studio’s restructure and the renewed focus on the western market is a result of the disappointing performance of the PlayStation 4 console within the country. Ryan also insists they have “strong ties with Japanese licensees” and want to continue to “develop titles made in Japan“.