Future of DriveClub now in limbo.
Evolution Studios is to close, Sony Computer Entertainment has said.
The DriveClub and Motorstorm developer was founded in 1999 and bought by SCE in 2007.
"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," said Sony in an internal email sent out just before the announcement, also the statement sent out by the company after the news broke.
"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 talented 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, and this decision should not take anything away from the great work that Evolution has produced over this time."
Minutes before the news broke, a Sony source told me that "bits" that were in the works for the series was now "thrown in the air". My source added they weren't sure whether the franchise would continue or not. Whether that means new games or updates done elsewhere outside Evolution is anyone's guess, though DriveClub was built to be a service and not be as reliant on new installments, so it likely would have been focused on the latter than the former with the exception of DriveClub Bikes, released last year as DLC for the main game and as a standalone game. As it'd turn out, it'd be Evolution's last released game. The future of DriveClub VR for PlayStation VR, shown at recent events, is now very much in limbo too with this news. I've checked in with Sony to clarify the future of that project.
DriveClub director Paul Rustchynsky tweeted a statement after the news came out.
Personally speaking, it is a massive shame. Evolution Studios has been one of my favourite studios in the racing genre. Their very first game WRC was a fantastic rally game, whereas Motorstorm was just terrific. And as you may have seen several times on this blog, I rate DriveClub very highly despite its disastrous launch. Fifth in my 2014 GOTY and Bikes getting into my top ten last year. As a result of its continuing efforts to improve and improve following that launch, it's now in my top five games for the generation so far. And I wouldn't be surprised if it's still there after the end of the generation.
All the best to those affected at this time at Evolution Studios.