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Sony Shutting Down PixelOpus

(Image by Sony Interactive Entertainment)

An internal PlayStation studio will be closing its doors.

PixelOpus, the PlayStation studio behind Concrete Genie and Entwined, will be shutting down. The developer made the announcement last Friday.

The studio revealed the news on Twitter and thanked the community. “As we look to new futures, we wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to the millions of passionate players who have supported us, and our mission to make beautiful, imaginative games with heart. We are so grateful!”

Sony confirmed the closure, telling IGN that the decision was part of an internal evaluation process and PixelOpus will be shut down next month. “PlayStation Studios regularly evaluates its portfolio and the status of studio projects to ensure they meet the organization’s short and long-term strategic objectives. As part of a recent review process, it has been decided that PixelOpus will close on June 2.”

PixelOpus was founded in 2014 as a first-party developer under Sony Computer Entertainment. Initially it mostly consisted of nine graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University and San Jose State University along with some senior developers from Sony. PixelOpus released their first game Entwined in June 2014 for the PlayStation 4 the same day it was announced during Sony’s E3 conference. The rhythm game released the next month for the PS3 and PlayStation Vita. A simplified mobile version also released on iOS and Android called Entwined Challenge that October.

The studio’s second game Concrete Genie released in October 2019 for the PS4 under the new Sony Interactive Entertainment umbrella that formed in 2016. The unique third-person adventure game is about a character named Ash who brings a town back to life by making art with a magic paintbrush. Players use the DualShock 4 controller’s motion features during gameplay as part of the painting mechanic. Concrete Genie also included a virtual reality mode for PlayStation’s headset, although Sony’s San Mateo Studio developed the game’s VR aspects. The game received two BAFTA Game Awards nominations in 2020 for Artistic Achievement and Best Family Game.

The small studio was recently working on an unannounced PlayStation 5 project using Unreal Engine 5 with Sony Pictures Animation, the company behind movies like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) and the Hotel Transylvania franchise.

PixelOpus is based in San Mateo, California where PlayStation’s headquarters are also located. The studio had upwards of around 20 employees. It wasn’t confirmed if any of the employees would be transferred to other Sony studios. One senior game designer stated they’re looking for new work and hoped the team would be reunited somewhere. Dominic Robilliard is the studio’s creative director. He also served as the director on the cancelled Star Wars 1313 under the former LucasArts. Robilliard previously worked on The Getaway franchise for Sony’s London Studio on PS2 and cancelled games The Getaway 3 and Eight Days on PS3.

Bob Archibald, a senior environment artist at PixelOpus, said on Twitter that he felt Concrete Genie made a positive impact. “I like to think that with #ConcreteGenie – we made the world an ever-so-slightly better place…and not too many games these days have the chance to try and do that. I will always be grateful for my time building imaginative worlds with this incredible team.”

Former PlayStation president Shawn Layden said on Twitter that the news of the closure cut deep but he wished the studio well. “So loved working with this team and watching them level up to deliver the genre busting, Concrete Genie, all while maintaining a culture of support, inclusion, challenge,” he said. “Now a new adventure awaits.” Layden served as the head of PlayStation from 2014-2019 through the development on both of PixelOpus’ releases.

Concrete Genie is currently part of the PlayStation Plus Extra catalog, which is downloadable on both PS5 and PS4 for subscribers. Entwined is also available to stream from Sony’s higher tier subscription with a PlayStation Plus Premium membership.

Watch the developers go through the gameplay of Concrete Genie:

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