EXCLUSIVE: SCE Santa Monica’s Layoffs, Sci-Fi IP, and God of War

February 27, 2014

UPDATE 28/02: Cory Barlog, employee at Sony Santa Monica, disagrees with the content of this report. As indicated by his twitter:


Take it for what you will.

We’ve spoken to our sources for clarification (hard to ignore the words of an actual dev). They’ve stated that while Destiny comparisons may not have been the coup de grâce for Sony Santa Monica’s sci-fi new IP, they are adamant that there absolutely were similarities between the game’s original build and Destiny‘s debut reveal. Furthermore, Santa Monica staff were apparently acknowledging of these similarities, frustrated, and that a later build of the game had clear changes implement.

What’s the truth? We’ve no bloody idea. Barlog’s words of wisdom should be taken as weighty as he works at the studio. Our sources? That’s up for you to decide. It’s worth noting that while Barlog does refer to this piece as “nonsense”, he does not specify what exactly is nonsense, or if it’s the entire thing. The latter is highly unlikely, as rumours of the new IP being science fiction are far from new. Our weigh in? The emphasis on Destiny specifically causing the new IP’s cancellation is misleading and not entirely true. Instead, we believe it is most likely a combination of changes made to the build, and naturally troubled development (something many titles face), as well as possible financial/downsizing issues with Sony/SSM, being the prime cause for cancellation. We are, however, inclined to believe our sources in that comparisons to Destiny were acknowledged by staff at Sony Santa Monica, and this played some role (positively or negatively) in the course of development. We also maintain that God of War for PlayStation 4 is indeed in development, and that some staff who worked on the new IP but did not face layoffs have moved on to this project.

What’s your thoughts?

ORIGINAL REPORT: As you’ve no doubt heard by now courtesy of IGN and a statement from Sony Computer Entertainment, SCE subsidiary “Santa Monica Studio” has been hit by a round of layoffs. According to reports, such as statements from ex-staff, the lay-offs sit at around 50 personnel and include the cancellation of a new IP.

While not an earth shattering revelation, Rocket Chainsaw has been in contact with multiple sources close to the situation to get a better idea of who was laid off, the studio’s future, as well as the cancelled IP.

According to our sources, a majority of layoffs consist of key staff that were working on Santa Monica’s new IP, the project now more or less scrapped into oblivion. While details on the project are scarce, we’ve been told it was a science fiction title not all that far removed from Bungie and Activision’s Destiny, and a very large project at the studio, with sources expressing very positive enthusiasm for the project’s vision and potential. We’ve also been told that after Destiny was formally revealed parts of Santa Monica’s sci-fi project underwent rather significant changes, the original vision apparently quite similar to what Bungie is cooking up, changes applied to distance the two. Based on information supplied, we’re lead to believe the choice to divert Santa Monica’s project away from Destiny comparisons lead to somewhat troubled development, the studio unable to fully get the project back on course, ultimately culminating in its cancellation.

As for Santa Monica’s future, sources reveal that Sony’s prime objective with staff remaining from the now cancelled sci-fi IP is to move them over to development on a next generation God of War (among other things), set to launch at some point on PlayStation 4. While the move is hardly unsurprising, given the expectation that Sony would not abandon one of its most popular intellectual properties, we’re told a number of ex-scifi IP staff moved over aren’t happy about the change and are lamenting the loss of their original project.

Rocket Chainsaw will attempt to uncover more about the cancelled sci-fi project, and report any discoveries in the near future.