RIP Studio Liverpool: PS4 launch titles shelved as iconic UK game development house closes

Japanese electronics and entertainment giant Sony has shut down one of the UK's oldest and best loved video game houses, Studio Liverpool, as the company continues to "reorganise" its operations amidst general industry turbulence.

Born in 1984 as Psygnosis, the software development studio made its name early on in the gaming revolution with landmark titles like Shadow of the Beast, which was available for ultra-retro systems like the Amiga, Atari ST, and Commodore 64.

It was acquired by Sony in 1993 and rebranded as Studio Liverpool in 1999, working on a number of PlayStation projects thereafter, with the fantasy racing Wipeout series representing its biggest hit. Perhaps fittingly, Wipeout 2048 for the PlayStation Vita now represents the final game produced by Sony Liverpool.

"It has been decided that Liverpool Studio should be closed. Liverpool Studio has been an important part of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios since the outset of PlayStation, and has contributed greatly to PlayStation over the years. Everyone connected with Liverpool Studio, past and present, can be very proud of their achievements," Sony said in a statement.

"However, it was felt that by focusing our investment plans on other studios that are currently working on exciting new projects, we would be in a stronger position to offer the best possible content for our consumers," the firm added.

Saying that only part of the Liverpool campus was being shut down, Sony proffered that the location will still feature a number of SCE departments and that the game development team members affected by the closure would be relocated throughout other studios.

The company did, however, admit that some job losses were inevitable.

Sony's decision to shut down Studio Liverpool will also affect PlayStation fans, as the sudden news means that two PS4 launch titles have been cancelled: the Wipeout franchise was looking forward to a new iteration for the next-gen console and had reportedly already enjoyed up to 18 months of development.

An unnamed stealth action title thought to be drawing inspiration from the likes of Splinter Cell and Assassin's Creed was also put on hold.

However, in more promising news for dedicated Sony gamers, the latest speculation to emerge with regards to the PS4 points to the future hardware supporting 4K resolution as part of the company's drive to incentivise upgrades to its new range of ultra-definition television sets. Sony's 4K hardware also starred in Vue Cinema's recent London 2012 Olympics screenings.

Still, no amount of persiflage can disguise the disappointment many UK gamers – or at least those over a certain age – will be feeling today, not to mention the vexation of the game developers themselves.

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