Sony-backed Deviation Games has shut down without releasing a game – WGB

By admin Mar9,2024

Deviation Games, which was founded in 2020, has officially closed its doors having never released its debut game which was set to be a brand new IP exclusive to PlayStation.

The studio was founded by Jason Blundell and Dave Anthony, both industry veterans best known for working for Treyarch on the Call of Duty: Black Ops series. By 2021 the studio had gathered 100 employees and announced that a deal had been signed with PlayStation to create a new, original IP that would be exclusive to PlayStation.

Speaking to GameIndustry.biz in June of 2021, Deviation said that the Sony deal would provide “complete financial security for years and years to come”.

At the end of 2022, Jason Blundell announced he was leaving the studio he had helped found. Dave Anthony remained as CEO and also took on the role of game director. At the same time though, the studio also announced it had hired a few more people, such as Louis Castle as senior vice president of development.

In May of 2023, bad news struck as Deviation announced the layoff of around 90 people out of what was said to be 130 employees, sparking discussion that Sony was no longer interested in supporting Deviation and had backed out of the deal.

Just three months ago, Jason Blundell revealed he had joined a PlayStation Studios team, though has not said which one. Other former Deviation staff have also been snapped up by PlayStation, so it is possible that Jason is forming a new studio within PlayStation. Supporting this is Jason’s own Tweet announcing he had joined PlayStation Studios where he stated, “And I work for Jason Blundell.”

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The writing was very much on the wall for Deviation, and so today’s announcement that the studio is closing does not come as a surprise, sadly.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of Deviation Games,” operations officer Kriste Stull announced on LinkedIn. “I want to express my deepest gratitude to our entire team. Thank you for all your hard work, dedication, and contributions to Deviation; I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have worked with each and every one of you.

“To the entire video game industry, we will be hosting a networking event, and we would love for any/all companies/studios hiring to participate. Please reach out to me directly if you are interested in attending.

“To all the Deviators out there, we will always cherish the memories we made together. Thank you for being a part of our journey. Go get ’em!”

Based on this timeline of events, I do see two potential explanations. The first is that Jason Blundell leaving hints at some sort of disagreement about the game Deviation was making. It’s strange that a founding member would opt to walk away just two years after creating a new studio, and it seems like PlayStation wasn’t really seeing what they wanted either. Keep in mind, Sony recently announced their own layoffs due to the company’s shrinking profit margins, so if back in 2023 Deviation wasn’t showing the progress Sony hoped, perhaps they chose to pull out early, resulting in the layoffs.

The other theory is harsher: PlayStation poached a bunch of talent while also pulling out of the deal. Given how many former Deviation employees have wound up at PlayStation along with Jason Blundell, I don’t think it’s too hard to imagine that Sony pulled the plug and was sure they would be able to snap up a bunch of Deviation staff in the aftermath.

The more charitable version: despite not wanting to support the studio any more, PlayStation execs may have wanted to be as supportive as possible to its staff and offered positions to as many people as they could. After all, Deviation was made up of a lot of former Treyarch talent, a valuable asset to Sony and its studios.

Whatever happened, Deviation’s story is a sad one and a reminder that starting up a studio in today’s climate is not easy. I wish all the luck in the world to those affected by the closure

By admin

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