A game director at Sony’s racing studio Evolution feared the outfit would close entirely following the luckless launch of critically acclaimed title MotorStorm Apocalypse.
“It’s been quite a tough year for us, especially early on in the year," Matt Southern told Eurogamer.
"We made a game we’re really proud of and for some really heartbreaking reasons things didn’t go so well. I was worried it might be the end of Evolution," he said.
In March, MotorStorm Apocalypse’s global launch was thrown into disarray when a massive tsunami swept through Japan after it was rocked by one of the biggest earthquakes in modern times.
The 8.9 magnitude earthquake, which crippled Japanese businesses, left the Tokyo headquartered Sony with the decision to hold off Apocalypse due to its depiction of natural disasters.
“In perspective we’ve got nothing to complain about,” Southern said.
But the troubles were coupled with general negativity surrounding the racing genre and the clouded outlook for triple-A studios in the UK.
This year Activision closed Bizarre Creations after claiming there were too many commercial limitations within the racing genre. At the time, the publisher said: "although we made a substantial investment in creating a new IP, Blur, it did not find a commercial audience." The publisher had curbed marketing of the title upon release.
Months later, Disney closed Black Rock Studios – the Brighton outfit’s final game was a triple-A racing title.
"Racing has had a very tough time, even without extraordinary circumstances like the ones we went through,” Southern said.
But he went on to praise Sony for backing the group despite the climate of studio closures. Evolution is now developing a Vita edition of MotorStorm.
“Sony has defended us and protected us and allowed us to experiment,” he added.
"We split the company up into three teams, one making [the Vita game], one supporting MotorStorm Apocalypse post-launch with DLC and multiplayer, and another bunch of guys just brainstorming new ideas. In a climate like the one we’ve had this year, that is rare."
Following the release of Apocalypse, Southern said an anxiety spread through the studio. But the mood lifted when Sony gave the green light to the Vita game.
"We all started to pick ourselves up and get excited about it,” he said.
“We’re not out of it yet, [but] things are turning round, I think. The studio’s really, really buzzing now."