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Sony Looks To Be Replacing Japan Studio’s External Development With Its Expanding XDev Division

eyesabitdull

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because X gon give it to ya
Key And Peele GIF by 2020 MTV Video Music Awards
 

Boss Mog

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Gonna be another great generation from Sony, they never rest on their laurels.
They did with the PS3. The XBOX 360 was the better platform back then, but Sony turned it around with PS4 and became the best again. It's too early to tell for this generation, but the PS5 is off to a better start so far.
 
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bitbydeath

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They did with the PS3. The XBOX 360 was the better platform back then, but Sony turned it around with PS4 and became the best again. It's too early to tell for this generation, but the PS5 is off to a better start so far.
They knew they couldn’t produce a better game than Warhawk, so why bother trying?
 

yurinka

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Right, I think I may have mixed up my words in a place or two, but we're on the same page. It's External Development Studio Europe, the producer's house where they work those 2nd party game partnerships with outside studios developing for Sony.

(Though a little tidbit: "2nd Party" is convenient when we talk about products but I believe it's generally not used by the business. Gio Corsi was the "2nd Party" guy at Sony, for instance, but his title was Director, Third Party Production for SCEA. They usually just say 1st / 3rd.)

Interesting you mention that all 2nd party was moved to XDEV though... is that correct? I for sure noticed Santa Monica shying away from project incubation (their last partner game project was What Remains of Edith Finch in 2017, and they were already way short of what they used to put out from the PS3 days when they had the Fat Princess team and all those ThatGameCompany projects and all the little stuff they produced,) but didn't know that arm actually dropped. Kind of sad, but that was never Santa Monica's strong suit. (And I'm not sure why the Foster City offices seem to not have any producers left anymore, but there's enough business going on at that building anyway.)

That said, though, are you sure is XDEV really the 2nd party hub for everything? Predator Hunting Grounds I don't think mentions XDEV, Iron Man VR also doesn't list XDEV, just Sony WWS (which, whatever) but also "Sony Interactive Entertainment: Global Second Party Games" ... so I guess I'm wrong that companies don't use "Second Party" , because that's formerly Corsi's group.) Sackboy has the XDEV branding but that's by Sumo in Europe so that made sense to me to be managed by XDEV, and then Demon's Souls I don't believe has an XDEV mark.

It would make sense for XDEV to just be name of the external companion to WWS' internal production group (it would also make sense to rename XDEV if they're going to go global, since that "X" reminds me of the other guy...) but are you sure that transition actually fully happened?



I don't know if that was the case that XDEV actually "worked on" any 1st party games, per se? Which titles are you thinking of there? XDEV worked on titles like LBP that helped bring the studio into the Sony family, so they bridged the time between external and internal, then they kept some rights or responsibilities in relationships with those studios even though they reported to SCE Europe or SCE WWS or whatever was the case.

(So, like, doing another credits deep-dive: XDEV gets a full credit on LBP1, then kind of a cursory staff mention in LBP2, I don't see anything in LBP PSP, and then of course LBP 3 and Vita are full XDEV projects again since they're new external studios involved. Similarly, Motorstorm was XDEV in 2006 and then Sony bought them in 2007; Killzone was 2004 and then Sony bought them in 2005 BUT the PSP game Killzone Liberation was 2006 and I think has an XDEV credit to it?)

...This is all very in-the-weeds details, but there aren't many chances to talk about or learn something new about XDEV.



Well, that would be nice, but... it'd be something if big-papa Sony actually threw a big party for its quieter Japanese games all around the world now that it's not just the kooky Japan Studio producing them, but XDEV isn't a hitsmaker factory either. Big Fest and The Inpatient and Matterfall weren't exactly given 5-star accommodations. Even Sackboy Big Adventure was under-represented despite being a key PS5 (and PS4) title. There's only so much love to go around...
Gio Corsi wasn't the 2nd party guy. He was on charge of signing/moneyhatting some ports of 3rd party games or western localization of some 3rd party Japanese only games, mostly for Vita. 3rd party games = non published by Sony.

2nd party games are the 1st party games (so published by Sony, who often keeps the IP for themselves) developed by 3rd party studios. Like the games developed by European teams like Quantic Dream, Housemarque, Sumo Digital (handled by XDev), by American teams like ThatGameCompany, Giant Sparrow, Titan Studios, etc (handled by Santa Monica) or by Japanese teams like From Software, Clap Hanz, Pyramid, etc (handled by Japan Studios). This was how they did work until this year.

The idea is that starting from now, XDEV will handle global 2nd party games. When they did shut down the 2nd party division of Japan Studio mentioned it was because they wanted to unify globally the publishing for PlayStation Studios games. So they were unifying all their 2nd party parts, and now the XDEV website they will handle global 2nd party stuff, so they are the team who will handle it. In addition to handle European 2nd party, XDEV also did support European 1st party studios (like Media Molecule or Guerrilla) with development outsourcing, publishing, communications, etc.

Well, that would be nice, but... it'd be something if big-papa Sony actually threw a big party for its quieter Japanese games all around the world now that it's not just the kooky Japan Studio producing them, but XDEV isn't a hitsmaker factory either. Big Fest and The Inpatient and Matterfall weren't exactly given 5-star accommodations. Even Sackboy Big Adventure was under-represented despite being a key PS5 (and PS4) title. There's only so much love to go around...
Unlike Japan Studio games, most XDEV games are profitable, good reviewed games. Some of them were multi million seller hits (like LBP or the Quantic Dreams games) other ones were smaller scale games designed to target some niches (VR, Housemarque games, Until Dawn, Sackboy, etc) that weren't focusing to get great sales or reviews but to fill certain parts of their catalog, but still got good reviews and sales on their niche. I'm pretty sure Sackboy will sell several millions of units.

I'm pretty sure Japanese 2nd party games will now get better sales and reviews being handled now by XDEV.


This is more a hint of how the formalities of it will be done. And a note of commencement that this XDEV arm is staffing up. It's also a little confirmation that it wasn't just lip-service that Japanese game makers will still have a place to shop their ideas without Japan Studio (which some people genuinely doubted, what with some of the news surrounding Sony at the time.)

Not world-breaking news, but good news of things moving forward, at least.
Sony said they will increase in over $183M their internal studios staff during this year. It means basically that approximately they plan to double their headcount during this year. So studios like XDEV will grow a lot.

Yep, when Sony removed the Japan Studio part for 2nd party publishing, localization and so on they mentioned it was because they were going to unify their publishing teams into a global team. Now we know it will be handled from XDEV. Jimbo said they plan to have more exclusives than ever, that they are interested on strenghten their relationship with Japanese teams, and Hulst said they will continue investing on 1st and 2nd party games of all kinds and sizes, some mainstream and some more experimental.

So once they have all this ready they may even be publishing more Japanese 2nd party games than before.
 
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yurinka

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I don't know if that was the case that XDEV actually "worked on" any 1st party games, per se? Which titles are you thinking of there? XDEV worked on titles like LBP that helped bring the studio into the Sony family, so they bridged the time between external and internal, then they kept some rights or responsibilities in relationships with those studios even though they reported to SCE Europe or SCE WWS or whatever was the case.

(So, like, doing another credits deep-dive: XDEV gets a full credit on LBP1, then kind of a cursory staff mention in LBP2, I don't see anything in LBP PSP, and then of course LBP 3 and Vita are full XDEV projects again since they're new external studios involved. Similarly, Motorstorm was XDEV in 2006 and then Sony bought them in 2007; Killzone was 2004 and then Sony bought them in 2005 BUT the PSP game Killzone Liberation was 2006 and I think has an XDEV credit to it?)

...This is all very in-the-weeds details, but there aren't many chances to talk about or learn something new about XDEV.
Here you have more extra info of what XDEV did with Sony's European 1st party and 2nd party games, mentioning a few examples:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIE_Worldwide_Studios#XDev

Still no internal development effort then?
XDEV is an internal studio that did support both 1st party and 2nd party games in almost all areas. They announced an increase of $183M on internal development studios salaries during this year, which basically means they double their headcount. And that includes XDEV.
 
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Panajev2001a

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Here you have more extra info of what XDEV did with Sony's European 1st party and 2nd party games, mentioning a few examples:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIE_Worldwide_Studios#XDev


XDEV is an internal studio that did support both 1st party and 2nd party games in almost all areas. They announced an increase of $183M on internal development studios salaries during this year, which basically means they double their headcount. And that includes XDEV.
Looks like… organic growth ;).
 
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CamHostage

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Still no internal development effort then?

Nothing's stopping Sony from acquiring a Japanese studio and bringing them into the Sony Worldwide Studios group if the match was right, some company they worked with a lot like Shift or Q-Games (or if we're thinking crazy-big like MS with its purchases, FromSoft,) or one that's new out there in Japan (maybe even pick up one of these studios started by outcasts of Japan Studio, which would be weird but happens sometimes, and it could still be good for the startup since they have a new contract and new business structure,) or one with a great idea/tech that needs to be part of the family.

The only internal development groups in Japan for Sony right now (unless I miscount...) are Asobi Studio and Polyphony Digital.

However, Sony doesn't seem to be in acquisition mode right now (as far as we know of.) Their last two project announcements have been partnerships for publishing, not onboarding of the team, and I feel like we'll see more of that even though the competition is really hungry right now. (If Sony does buy a studio, they'll probably be massive, like Bethesda was for Microsoft.) XDEV is the Japanese arm of those kinds of partnerships, where they don't buy the team but they fund them and manage the IP and publish the product, fostering a relationship that ideally lasts for as long as many of these Sony partnerships have in the past (some of which eventually became acquisitions).
 
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CamHostage

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Gio Corsi wasn't the 2nd party guy. He was on charge of signing/moneyhatting some ports of 3rd party games or western localization of some 3rd party Japanese only games, mostly for Vita. 3rd party games = non published by Sony.

Oh, I had that wrong, you're right; Gio Corsi was the guy who was like, "Oh, this game would be awesome on Vita, don't you think? Let me make a call..." I got confused because his goodbye letter mentioned people like John Sanders and Christine Converse of the Global Second Party Games, but it'd make sense that there's cross-talk with the groups.

Just saying though, when I was in business, we used the term "2nd Party" around the office, but when it had to be formalized, that was a no-no term. I guess I've gotten old though and it's become part of the general lexicon; Sony has a group named Global Second Party Games right on the business cards, I believe that wouldn't have existed back in the day.

In addition to handle European 2nd party, XDEV also did support European 1st party studios (like Media Molecule or Guerrilla) with development outsourcing, publishing, communications, etc.

I found another one that was XDEV yet also 1st Party: Tearaway released in 2013 but Media Molecule was acquired in 2010, a full year before Tearaway even went into production. So that and Killzone Liberation are fully 1st Party games that XDEV was involved with (and probably like you're saying, they did some outreach and services in Europe on others.)

I would think, though, that as XDEV is extended into more territories and formalized as a business group for more than just Europe, that they'd have fewer cases of the team extending itself as the outreach group for anything that needed a little love locally. (Also, sadly, Sony has way fewer of those little titles to champion these days, but at least their attention has turned from a few little games made by those on its staff payroll to hopefully a similar or larger quantity of games made by partners Sony is investing in to produce PlayStation titles.)
 
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