Sony announce 900 layoffs across Naughty Dog, Guerilla, Insomniac and PlayStation studios worldwide

Another day, another videogame company jettisoning a large number of people “who have contributed to our success” so as to position themselves for growth in the face of “challenging times”. Today it’s Sony’s turn with the axe: the PlayStation publisher have announced plans to reduce their global workforce by about 8% or 900 people, so as “to future ready ourselves to set the business up for what lies ahead”, in the words of outgoing president and CEO Jim Ryan.

Several well-known PlayStation studios are affected, including The Last Of Us developer Naughty Dog, Ratchet & Clank developer Insomniac Games, Horizon developer Guerilla Games and PlayStation VR specialists Firesprite. It’s also proposed that PlayStation close Sony London in their entirety, though the exact scale of the reductions remains to be seen.

PlayStation’s leadership emailed staff about the reduction plans this morning, and we now have public confirmation from Ryan. “The PlayStation community means everything to us, so I felt it was important to update you on a difficult day at our company,” he said in a statement. “We have made the extremely hard decision to announce our plan to commence a reduction of our overall headcount globally by about 8% or about 900 people, subject to local law and consultation processes. Employees across the globe, including our studios, are impacted.

“These are incredibly talented people who have been part of our success, and we are very grateful for their contributions,” the statement continues. “However, the industry has changed immensely, and we need to future ready ourselves to set the business up for what lies ahead. We need to deliver on expectations from developers and gamers and continue to propel future technology in gaming, so we took a step back to ensure we are set up to continue bringing the best gaming experiences to the community.”

Ryan appended a copy of the aforesaid email to staff, which includes a brief provisional outline of the likely fallout, block-quoted below:

We envision reducing our headcount by about 900 people, or about 8% of our current workforce

There will be impact for employees across all SIE regions – Americas, EMEA, Japan, and APAC

Several PlayStation Studios are affected

I know that receiving this news will be hard and unsettling and you are wondering what this means for you. Timelines and procedures for how we approach this will vary based on your location due to local laws and regulations.

For those of you in the US, all impacted employees will be notified today.

In the UK, it is proposed:

That PlayStation Studios’ London Studio will close in its entirety;

That there will be reductions in Firesprite studio;

And that there will be reductions in various functions across SIE in the UK.

Any changes will be made following a consultation period, with potentially affected employees being told about it today. The post also outlines various career support programs and severance benefits, which will vary by region – it doesn’t go into details.

Ryan ends by saying that “while these are challenging times, it is not indicative of a lack of strength of our company, our brand, or our industry”. That isn’t quite the impression given by Sony’s movements over the past year: carrying out smaller mass layoffs at various studios, cancelling The Last Of Us Online, and recently lowering their PS5 sales forecasts, which led to Sony’s stock price falling by $10 billion.

Sony are far from the only big publisher who are currently bulldozing their own workforce in the name of growth, nor are these even the largest reductions this year. Microsoft, a $3 trillion corporation, announced plans to streamline themselves of almost 2000 employees last month, Embracer are in the middle of nuking every studio or license they bought over the past decade or so, Unity began 2024 by announcing 1,800 layoffs, and Twitch are dumping 500 people in the wake of “optimistic” hiring.

Best of luck to everybody affected, and to everybody who doesn’t yet know whether they’re affected. I feel especially bad for Sony London, creators of PSVR games like Blood And Truth, a brace of PSP and PlayStation Move titles and, way back in the day, The Getaway, a GTA clone set in Britain. They are or were working on “an online multiplayer game set in a modern day, fantasy London”. As Hit Points editor and former Edge editor Nathan Brown points out, the Sony London team posted the below on Twitter just a few days ago, celebrating Jim Ryan’s approaching retirement (to be clear, he’s not among the layoffs announced today). You feel like Ryan probably should have mentioned how things were going at the time.

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