Sony Shuts Down Liverpool Studio Behind ‘WipeOut’ Series

The studio behind my personal favorite anti-gravity racing series has closed its doors.

Ugh, first Nintendo Power, then the PopCap layoffs yesterday (oh, you didn’t hear that PopCap let go of 50 employees?), and now Sony’s shutting the doors on the Sony Liverpool Studio. Some weeks in video gaming are rough.

In a story originating out of the GRCade forums, a user calling him or herself Shadow posted a claim that the studio was closing and all of its projects getting the axe. Sony later confirmed the closure, explaining the publisher would be shifting its focus and that internal teams “are currently working on exciting new projects.” Meanwhile, some of the Liverpool team might make their way to other Sony teams, but the publisher warned that there would still be some people out of work at the end of the day.

On the WipeOut 2048 Facebook page, the Liverpool team took a moment to reflect on the studio closure and thank the fans:

As some of you may have heard Sony have chosen to close Studio Liverpool as of today.
This page will no longer be maintained by the WipEout Team.

We have loved making every game, every minute and every one of you. Keep the faith, keep loving WipEout.

Thank you for everything, Pilots. It’s been an amazing journey and we’ll miss you.

A little personal history: the original WipeOut was part of a sampler disc that shipped with the PSOne, and I played that game’s first track over and over, until I was able to play the full game on release. The Liverpool team was then called Psygnosis and with the sequel, WipeOut XL, they’d pretty much cemented the series in my mind as one of the greatest things to happen to gaming.

It was hard not to get excited about the sleek designs of the anti-grav ships that populated the game, or the spare, metallic environments that made up the game’s tracks. And we can’t talk about the series without talking about the soundtracks Psygnosis/Liverpool assembled, featuring the likes of Orbital, Daft Punk, the Prodigy, Aphex Twin, and of course, Cold Storage (for a taste of what great electronic music sounded like in the mid-90’s, pick up the XL soundtrack).

From the ultra-modern, austere designs of WipeOut 3 to the more aggressive, natural environments of the sole PS2 entry in the series, WipeOut Fusion, I’ve played every entry (okay, not the one on the N64) since the series’ inception, each making me clamor for the next. If I was hard on the first title for the Vita, it was only because this was failed to provide the shock of the new that previous games in the series had, but I couldn’t fault it with simply being a very good racer.

As we always do with these kinds of things, we wish the team the best of luck and on a personal note, thanks for all of the fantastic games, guys.

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