Jhe list of beloved video game development studios that have had a long history of success and acclaim that comes to an abrupt end due to unfortunate closures is a long one. Sadly, more studios have been shut down over the years than can easily be tracked, with a number of fans fondly looking back at the many great games they made while still active.
One of those developers was Evolution Studios, which was a name that, at one point, was a force to be reckoned with when it came to the racing genre. Over more than a decade, Evolution Studios released a number of critically and commercially successful titles, and yet, after a single stumble in the early years of the PS4, just like that, the studio was gone. So what exactly happened? How did Evolution Studios go from a consistently successful team to one that parent company Sony no longer considered a viable operation?
Of course, Evolution had a long association with Sony – pretty much the studio’s entire existence, in fact, saw it being heavily associated with PlayStation. Shortly after its inception in 1999, Evolution was quickly tapped by Sony to develop officially licensed World Rally Championship games for the PS2, and the studio’s first title in the series was released as quickly as 2001. , quickly meeting strong reviews and sales. match. From there, for a number of years, Evolution focused exclusively on WRC, release a new episode every year until 2005 WRC: Rally Evolved, until the end of the PlayStation 2 era.
With the PS3 era, Evolution moved forward with the rest of Sony and, after dropping the WRC license, decided to focus on something entirely its own, giving rise to the property the studio would become best known. . for. In the first months of the PS3’s life, the console saw the launch of MotorStorm, a much more dynamic and lively racing experience that has been hailed as a first win for Sony’s new hardware.
The success of MotorStorm spawned a number of sequels, with MotorStorm: Pacific Rift and MotorStorm: Apocalypse launching for the PS3 in 2008 and 2011 respectively, with each game increasingly emphasizing the series’ most high-octane and explosive tendencies. It was a direction that suited most fans just fine, but in 2012, when MotorStorm RC released on PS3 and PS Vita, it felt like the series was starting to run out of Steam.
Either way, Evolution Studios certainly seemed to feel that way, as the development team had put MotorStorm on the back burner and moved on to something they had apparently been waiting to do for a decade, and now they finally had the technology to properly realize the vision. This game became known as DriveClub, and this game was the last game developed by Evolution Studios.
Expectations were high for DriveClub, with Sony and Evolution making big promises for the racing title, highlighting things like its visual fidelity and the experience’s focus on social features and play within a connected community. To meet these expectations, DriveClub has been delayed multiple times, but of course that only increased the anticipation surrounding the game’s launch. did launch, unfortunately, despite its fair share of forces and merits, DriveClub simply could not reach the lofty heights that many hoped for.
Obviously, Sony wasn’t particularly happy with the way things had gone for the racing title, as a few months after its release, the company confirmed that it had laid off more than 50 staff members. ‘Evolution, which at the time was about half of the studio’s entire workforce. The reason presented by Sony for this drastic reduction was to want to streamline Evolution so that the developer could focus on maintaining DriveClub goes like a live service title.
That, of course, didn’t work either. DriveClub received updates and fixes and what have you after release, but things never picked up for the game like Sony and Evolution needed. In October 2016, Sony’s announcement that Evolution Studios hadn’t come as a huge shock, as there had been plenty of signs pointing to the possibility over the previous two years, but it was certainly a blow to many. After a series of consistently strong and successful games over the course of a decade or so, Evolution had suddenly succumbed to the failure of a single game.
What’s interesting about the studio’s trajectory, however, is that this team continued to face ups and downs even after Evolution shut down. Shortly after Sony closed the studio, several of its members teamed up with Codemasters and set up a new studio in Cheshire, known as Codemasters Evo (although they were eventually renamed simply Codemasters Cheshire) . Their first project was Rush, an arcade vehicular combat game – but that proved to be another hurdle for the team.
Rush originally had a great idea, and there were benefits, but ultimately it didn’t have much of an impact on the critical or commercial front. Once again, Codemasters Cheshire has faced layoffs – although this time, at least, the studio hasn’t been shut down…even though Codemasters Cheshire no longer exists. Earlier this year, EA announced that the studio would be used as a support team for Need of speed upcoming games. Less than a month later, the company officially merged Codemasters Cheshire with Criterion Games, the developer responsible for Need of speed.
Whether or not there’s a lot of overlap between former Codemasters Cheshire who’s now part of Criterion and the team at Evolution Studios who gave us CMR on PS2 or MotorStorm on PS3 or even DriveClub on PS4 anyone can guess, but considering all the hashes and changes this team has seen over the years, the smart bet would be no. Of course, if some of these talents is still here, so it can only mean good things for Need of speed. After all, Criterion has had its own share of turmoil over the past decade, which means the studio isn’t exactly what it was when it was at the top of the racing genre either. Having the backing of a team that is equally familiar with the racing genre should hopefully lead to good things.
Either way, there’s no denying that what happened with Evolution Studios was, to say the least, a huge disappointment. More than once the developer has proven that they can deliver solid racing titles, and they have done so with games that are often very different from each other, and have offered things that few of their peers were doing. Seeing this team get eviscerated over and over again certainly wasn’t easy on racing game fans.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Fun Academy as an organization.