Sony is growing Team Asobi, the developer of the wonderful PlayStation 5 pack-in game Astro’s PlayRoom.
In a post on the PlayStation Blog, Nicolas Doucet, studio director and creative director at the Tokyo-based studio, said Team Asobi “is now spreading its wings and growing bigger!”
“This is a very exciting time for the team, and we are very much looking forward to this next chapter,” Doucet continued.
Sony’s support of Team Asobi comes following a restructure of Sony’s Japan Studio, and after a staff exodus that has seen Gravity Rush and Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama leave to form new studio Bokeh. The last game that was an original Japan Studio joint was Knack 2.
It has been suggested that Sony has deprioritised Japan in favour of the west, and shifted its powerbase from Tokyo to San Mateo, California. As Martin Robinson wrote in his farewell to Japan Studio:
“Sales of the PS5 in Japan have been miserable – as has the supply, it’s also worth pointing out – but another shift can be found within a piece of that console’s design. By swapping the function of the O and X buttons around on the PS5’s user interface, going against 25 years of tradition in Japan and implying the new bosses at Sony Interactive Entertainment were saying it’s their way or no way at all.”
In a blog post, Head of PlayStation Studios Hermen Hulst insisted Japanese games and talent “remain extremely important to PlayStation Studios and to Sony Interactive Entertainment”.
“Japan and Asia are strongly associated with our legacy: the success of Sony, the PlayStation brand, and many of our iconic PlayStation franchises were actually born in that region,” Hulst said.
“I remember watching the PS5 Showcase event from last year. It struck me how much Japanese influence there was in the games that we showed. And what a key part of PlayStation’s DNA that is. It’s one of the things that makes PlayStation different, unique in my mind.
“I know the potential from high-quality games from Japan and Asia, and some of the best development talent in the world is found there. They have that history of innovation, of craftsmanship and skill, that pride and team spirit. We very much want to continue those traditions.
“Polyphony Digital is such an important part of the PlayStation family, making the best driving simulation games in the world. We’re building Team Asobi in Tokyo, a world-class studio that are developing a franchise for all ages with global appeal. Such a creative team.
“And alongside Asobi, we will continue to maintain and build partnerships through our external development team. So I’m really excited about the future of PlayStation games from Japan, and Asia. And I’m grateful for the interest and passionate support for our Japanese teams.”
So, what can we expect from Team Asobi? As Hulst says, a “franchise for all ages with global appeal”. That could be anything, really. But, given how brilliantly Astro’s PlayRoom turned out, I’m excited to see what’s next.