Who’ll make Wipeout for PS4? We weigh up candidates for Sony’s traditional launch game

Future racer Wipeout has been one of Sony’s go-to launch games. Wherever there’s been new hardware there’s been new Wipout, so why would PS4 be any different? Except on August 2012, Studio Liverpool, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s flagship studio, one of the biggest in Sony’s Worldwide Studios family, and Wipeout developer, closed.

Who’ll make Wipeout for PS4?

According to the statement given, the closure was due to SCE “focusing our investment plans on other Studios that are currently working on exciting new projects”. While the studio was most famous for the Wipeout series reports suggest it was working on two projects for PS4: a Splinter Cell-like title and a “dramatically different” Wipeout.

Wipeout ps4Artwork of the Wipeout project made its way into the open via concept artist Darren Douglas, suggesting a futuristic take on street racing. But with Studio Liverpool dead, who could possibly carry on the work that it started and develop a Wipeout game for the next PlayStation? We take a look at some of the options in a bit more detail.

Evolution Studios

Starting with the Worldwide Studios group, if a first-party studio within SCE handled a new Wipeout, odds-on favorite would be Evolution Studios. A sister studio of the old Studio Liverpool, it picked up a few of the members of the Wipeout team when Liverpool closed last summer.

Adding substance is a 2009 interview, where SCE Worldwide Studios European boss Michael Denny said Evolution and Studio Liverpool would eventually share location space together. And although debunked afterwards, it was rumoured initially last September by MCV that the Motorstorm developer would take over the series. Evolution is said to be working on a new IP for PS4, but afterwards, maybe we’ll see it take on a new iteration of the series.

United Front Games

One possible option could be a developer outside of SCE’s ranks. United Front is the obvious choice with previous when it come to Sony racers: step up the cutesy ModNation Racers and LittleBigPlanet Karting produced in collaboration with Media Molecule. Sleeping Dogs proves it has a wide range of skills as well as creating more realistic or mature games.

United Front also happens to be hiring for its next game: one particular listing for a game designer mentions, “racing game design experience” as a preference. And the LinkedIn of one particular UFG producer mentions an unannounced project that he’s been working on since December of last year.

It’s unlikely United Front would be given free reign with a flagship brand however. More probably  they’d be watched over by an internal dev. Sony Santa Monica is known to be a technical group with a history of working collaboratively with external studios – it’s overseen everything from the God Of War PSP installments to StarHawk and The Last Guardian. However Santa Monica doesn’t have racing experience per se (closest to it is the Twisted Metal series) so what about Sony San Diego? It has some some expertise with the ModNation Racers series for PS3 and the portables. Though it’s difficult to imagine how that would work, the option is on the table to collaborate with Sony Santa Monica, just as it did on ModNation Racers with United Front Games.

An entirely new studio?

And then there’s the final option. What if a new studio took on the IP in the similar vein that Liverpool-based Lucid Games, which consists of ex-staff of the now defunct Bizarre Creations, are said to be working on Project Gotham Racing 5?

The likely contender on this front are Sawfly Studios, the upstart that consists of ex-Studio Liverpool vets, including Wipeout 2048 lead designer Karl Jones. That’s currently working on a brand new IP for “smart phones and tablets”. When asked about working with the Wipeout IP, it said that while its main focus was on its first title, managing director Michael Humphrey said it was “looking at a number of opportunities at the moment”.

Those are some options wide open as to who could make a new game. But whoever does bring a new Wipeout title to the table, whether mentioned in this piece or other studios we may not have covered, needs to bring their A game. Wipeout is one of the biggest flagship IPs in Sony’s arsenal. If – and when – it does come, lets hope it’ll be a worthy instalment to the series.