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Sony lay-offs explained by insider, Hennig left Naughty Dog due to Uncharted 4 creative differences – rumour

Friday, 28th March 2014 08:34 GMT By Dave Cook

Uncharted 4 creative differences led to the departure of series writer Amy Hennig, according to an alleged Sony insider. The tipster has also claimed that Sony Santa Monica’s canned sci-fi IP failed every QA test it had taken.

UPDATE: We have since been informed that some of the source’s claims are untrue by someone close to the matter. As such, the article below has been amended.

ORIGINAL STORY:

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It follows a round of lay-offs at Driveclub team Evolution Studios, Sony Santa Monica Studio and Guerrilla Games Cambridge. Seth Killian also left the God of War studio, and Naughty Dog’s Justin Richmond and Amy Hennig have both departed the Uncharted studio.

New claims regarding the lay-offs have come from industry insider Pete Dodd, who often posts Sony related leaks and rumours on NeoGAF. While the site’s moderators do need to see proof to back up rumours before posting, please do treat the following as rumour and nothing more.

On Sony Santa Monica, Dodd wrote, “Stig and his team spent almost 100 million dollars on a game that failed every QA test that took. The game sucked. They shitcanned the game and a lot of the people involved. They offered stig a spot on barlog’s project – he didn’t want to go from game director to something lesser so he quit.

“This makes sense, right? Shitty game, money wasted, people fired, head guy leaves out of ego? I mean that all makes sense.”

Turning to Naughty Dog, he went on, “Amy Hennig has creative differences about the direction that UC4 should go in. Egos swell, she leaves. She’s happy, she will make another studio much better when she gets there. Justin Richmond, an ally of Hennig’s, gets an offer he can’t refuse from Riot. He leaves.

“These things happen. Naughty Dog is going to be fine. UC4 will still be awesome. Riot will be better with the pickup of Richmond and whoever gets Hennig will be better off. The sky isn’t falling.”

Back to Sony Santa Monica, “Wouldn’t you shitcan stig’s project that cost them almost 100 mil and had nothing of value to show for it? In fact they should have done it two years ago. The fact they let it go this far is a testament to how much they believed in him after GoW 3.

“And all of this is happening before the fiscal year ends. Is sony trimming fat? Of course. Sony corporation is not in a great spot. So they are tightening up a bit. But a lot of people are connecting dots that don’t need to be connected. Hennig/Richmond is about creative differences and ego. Stig is about wasted money and time. Taken on their own they all make sense. Combine them together and you get glenn beck with a chalkboard.

“And Jack Tretton was about money and inability to move up. He will make more money and have more power somewhere else – something Sony simply could not offer him. Shit happens.

“It’s the same with the xbox department guys. People move around. People leave for other companies. Shit happens.”

Dodd then offered further clarity on what’s happening at Sony Santa Monica Studio, and Stig Asmussen’s project. “I heard various numbers between 75mil and 90 mil for Stig’s game. I said “almost 100″ because, well, both are almost 100 mil. They restarted the game, from scratch, THREE TIMES! And it sucked every time. The whole “it was too much like destiny” thing is bullshit. It was more horror-ish and like Dead Space than Destiny. That whole thing was sony jumping on the grenade to help Stig save face. And help themselves save face as they wasted a fucking TON of money.

“They started concept on it before GoW 3 shipped. Once GoW 3 shipped the moved to Darkside. They didn’t have online or DLC or shit like that to worry about. They jumped right into the next project.
The game initially was supposed to be out this year. It’s been clear for a couple years now that wasn’t gonna happen… but it does explain the giant hole in their fall lineup.”

On the whole situation at Sony right now, Dodd concluded, “There are reasons why Sony lost a lot of money during the PS3 years. They are trying not to repeat that. People losing jobs sucks. I feel for the SSM guys and everyone else. But Sony needs to run a tighter ship if they want to make money. They can’t allow teams to piss around for years with nothing to show. That’s why they completely restructured Japan Studio. Those guys had dozens of games that were going nowhere. It’s why they shuttered Zipper. MAG, while amazing – imo, was an expensive failure. Socom 4 was an expensive failure. They closed them down.

“Now they are tightening up on teams that aren’t delivering. It sucks – but it makes sense. The playstation division is in strong state right now. The PS3 is finally making money for them, the PS4 is off to best start in console history, and they are correcting the money-wasting mistakes of the prior generation. I’m not saying we should have a party now – there are clearly hurdles to overcome.

“Stig’s game being gone created a giant hole in their lineup. The timing of these things has tinfoil hats flying everywhere. Sony corporate has very big problems it needs to handle. Shit isn’t all rosy at sony – i’m not trying to say that. But it’s not doom and gloom either. These are all separate events that happened for very logical reasons when you look at them individually.”

Via DualShockers.

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23 Comments

  1. Gekidami

    I vote that the title for this article be renamed to: Sony lay-offs explained by insider: “Shit happens”

    #1 4 months ago
  2. DrDamn

    @Dave
    The QA failing comment was about Stig’s game at SSM not DriveClub.

    #2 4 months ago
  3. Fin

    @DrDamn

    Yup was just about to point this out too.

    #3 4 months ago
  4. mistermogul

    ^ Yep and me!

    #4 4 months ago
  5. brotherhoodofthewolf

    quoting neogaf posts as sources LOL

    #5 4 months ago
  6. jonnymelamet

    Hold on a second…

    Lay offs mean trouble. Trouble means desperation desperation means…terrorists. Sony are firing people for being terrorists!!! Glenn Beck would understand.

    Seriously though, it is good to see that Sony is doing what is required as a business to stay alive. It is a smart move for them to continually trim fat.

    #6 4 months ago
  7. Dave Cook

    @DrDamn Yeah :) But he said a wee thing about Driveclub too.

    #7 4 months ago
  8. Dave Cook

    @brotherhoodofthewolf Yeah, they have to back up their claims to the moderators, so yes there will be an element of truth to this. Did you not read my explanation.

    #8 4 months ago
  9. CycloneFox

    If you look at Sonys history and especially at the Playstation division with the PSX to be the first to blow away Nintendo, the PS2 as one of the most successful console ever, the PS3 that even with its big handicaps and a higher price overtook the XBox360 which launched a year earlier and last but not least, the PS4 which had the biggest console launch in history and is the fastest selling console of all time, you can only ask yourself, why Sony is still struggling so much.

    I can see why Bravia and Vaio were not as successful in the recent years. But in the smartphone division, for example, Xperia makes some of the best devices on the market and is mostly even cheaper than Samsung or (obviously) Apple, while also adding some nice advantages like PS Mobile.

    It just confuses me a lot. Maybe I’m just getting old, coming from the MTV generation, where wacky Playstation ads from Sony where the cool stuff…

    #9 4 months ago
  10. DoubleM

    Hennig and Uncharted 3 director leaving Naughty Dog just means one thing: They’re making Uncharted into another The Last of Us.

    A second team made the Last of Us while the Naughty Dog’s key people were working on Uncharted or something else, but from the looks of it, I can say that second team is now their main team.

    I still have hope. I have faith in Naughty Dog; but at the same time I’m really worried for Uncharted. I just hope that the new directors are not the Last of Us guys.

    #10 4 months ago
  11. Gekidami

    @DoubleM
    The guys leading TLOU team were the guys that made the best UC game; UC2. Now they’re leading UC4. I really dont see why anyone would be worried.

    #11 4 months ago
  12. CycloneFox

    @DoubleM: While loving The Last of Us, I’m really worried for Uncharted. I love the believable characters and their conversations in The Last of Us and also like it if Uncharted gets a little more serious and shows more layers of it’s characters. But I don’t want Uncharted to become so super-serious and always depressing, as The Last of Us already is.
    It is nice to have both. Uncharted has to stay the super exaggerating, over-the-top action game, that it is, with funny dialogs, likable characters, a great feeling of adventure and great graphics that make it almost seem realistic. While games like The Last of Us have anti-heroes, feel realistic in content and are depressing.

    I don’t want Naughty Dog to say: “Well, Drake is killing a lot of Dudes, so we should change his image into an anti-hero, like Joel, to make it more believable”, but it somehow makes the impression, that it might go that way. But I have faith in Naughty Dog, that they know, they need the best of both instead of only going the same way with all their future games.

    #12 4 months ago
  13. DoubleM

    Hennig was the creative director and writer of all three games and she had nothing to do with The Last of Us. Taking Henning away from Uncharted is like making an MGS game without Kojima.

    I’m worried they may prioritize story and make Uncharted into another interactive movie. While we have many games with great stories and great gameplay, The Last of Us wasn’t one of them.

    #13 4 months ago
  14. Erthazus

    If developer joins Riot games then Sony does not pay enough for these AAA developers.

    League Of Legends is the most popular game in the world and there are 32 million players playing EACH DAY and how much people play Uncharted 3? 100K maybe? 200???

    #14 4 months ago
  15. Erthazus

    + the devs that made Uncharted 3 which in my opinion was worse then Uncharted 2 is making the game while TLOU team is trying to figure out their next iP or TLOU2.

    So, expected.

    Anyway, fact is. AAA dev joined Riot games and this is a place where developers being paid with a huge paycheck. Sony is poor and can’t afford top tier devs. Even execs running away from the company that is almost bankrupt.

    #15 4 months ago
  16. CycloneFox

    @Erthazus: What a sad view on the future of gaming…

    But “32 million players” is thanks to LoL being free to play and a game design, that stretches the gameplay over a lot of hours. More players only causes more costs for servers and support, while hoping to get a bigger margin out of it in the end. On the other hand a series like Uncharted sells millions of units for 30-60 $ each, where the biggest investment was the production of content beforehand.
    Also, I have a lot more fun playing Uncharted 3 s multiplayer, than I have with multiplayer exclusive games like LOL or Titanfall, for example. But that’s another topic. (Uncharted 2 was great and a forerunner in many ways and had the perfect pacing, but Uncharted 3 was better in every way, except for the main campaigns pacing perhaps)

    #16 4 months ago
  17. Gekidami

    @DoubleM
    The only Uncharted Amy Hennig wrote on her own was UC3, she was also director along with Justin Richmond. UC3 was far from a bad game, but the plot was full of holes and made little sense. It was annoyingly based on convenience, the writing was pretty lazy.

    For UC4, Bruce Straley & Neil Druckmann are back, they were both director and writer on UC2, like i said before, the best game in the series. I dont see how them making TLOU is a bad thing considering the praise it got.

    As for the fear of UC getting “darker”, the dark under-tone has always been there. UC2 opens with Nate bleeding out in a train wreck, lost in the mountains. The main villain was a cold-blooded murderer who shoots an injured, innocent man right in front of Nate and Elena, yet at the end he also brings up how similar he and Drake are by asking him how many men he’s killed to get that that point. In UC3 a big part of the plot is about Nate’s recklessness and how he puts people in danger (notably Sully) for unclear reasons. Sully and Elena both dont understand why Nate keeps pushing to solve Francis Drake’s mysteries, and Nate doesnt seem to be able to give them an answer either.

    Its also revealed in UC3 that Nate is lying about who he is, he’s been lying to everyone. In the teaser trailer for UC4 it sounds like this new villain is going to blow the whole thing open (“You cant out-run the past, and when it catches up, when all your lies collapse around you, i’ll be there”).

    So yeah, it might be the darkest UC game yet, but its not like there isnt precedence.

    #17 4 months ago
  18. Francis O

    @CycloneFox

    “the PS4 which had the biggest console launch in history and is the fastest selling console of all time.”

    Gotta love today’s Media…..

    They have short memories in order to make a quick buck. PS4 BIGGEST CONSOLE LAUNCH IN HISTORY CLICK HERE!!!!! FASTEST SELLING CONSOLE OF ALL TIME CLICK HERE!!!

    It seems like the Media is hell bent on forgetting what the Wii did in 2006 and the following months.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY20NPp1yjQ

    #18 4 months ago
  19. Erthazus

    @CycloneFox League Of Legends make 200-300 million DOLLARS each year in PROFIT (more then Uncharted or any Sony game)
    and there are ton’s of Free to Play titles and there are non F2P titles that are close to League Of Legends popularity. It’s a fact.

    Server maintance does not cost a lot. See Diablo III – always DRM or Guild Wars 2 that you buy once and play for free forever with full content.

    #19 4 months ago
  20. CycloneFox

    @Francis O: The creator of your video is mixing up a lot of false facts. The Wii sold 3.19 million units in it’s first quater, while the PS4 did that in one single month. The Wii never had such a long term of stock problems, as the PS4 does. Sony can sell as many PS4s as they’re producing right now.

    #20 4 months ago
  21. CycloneFox

    @Erthazus: That’s all right. I know, that free-to-play games make more money, than pay-to-play games. I just wanted to say, that you can not bring those numbers into any linear relations with each other. And there is always another more successful person. But if you argument like this, every one who isn’t Palmer Luckey and doesn’t make 2 billion $ out of nothing in only 18 months is such a looser, that she or he might as well just give up.

    And I don’t want to live in a world, where is only free-to-play games. Just like I said, this would be a really sad future for gaming.

    #21 4 months ago
  22. Dragon

    @CycloneFox,
    Ignore him. He is a hardcore nintendo fan. Runs his own propaganda site.
    PS4 is the fastest selling console ever as of now. There is no disputing that fact,

    #22 4 months ago
  23. Michael Ireland

    Instead of stressing about countless people’s ego clashing, I’ll just be happy to see where Hennig ends up. She is one of my favourite writers in the industry.

    Wherever she ends up, that will be a lucky studio, as long as they don’t squander her talent.

    #23 4 months ago

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