Sony Studio Firesprite Faces Allegations of Toxic Culture Amidst Layoffs

Amidst layoffs at Sony Studio Firesprite, allegations of toxic culture have surfaced.
Firesprite Playstation Family
Image: Sony

Firesprite, a video game developer from Liverpool, was acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2021. A recent report by Eurogamer has brought attention to allegations of a problematic work environment at the company. The report, which includes accounts from current and former employees who chose to remain anonymous, describes a studio facing challenges adjusting to its new ownership.

According to the report, the allegations include concerns about leadership, discrimination, and a deterioration in company culture. Problems started shortly after the company was taken over, with several important people leaving, including almost all of the studio’s original leaders. Then, new leaders from Sony’s support studio XDev were chosen, and some employees said they didn’t have enough experience and didn’t have the same values as the old leaders.

“Sony has committed the worst possible mistake in buying a studio and meddling to the point where it may end up in a death spiral and unable to complete any of the projects it is working on.”

Eurogamer source

The report also includes accusations of discrimination based on sex and age against two XDev executives, allegations that were said to be ignored by Sony following an internal inquiry. Some individuals allegedly took legal action and were compensated by Sony.

The pressure to meet deadlines for the PlayStation VR2 launch title Horizon Call of the Mountain has reportedly led to a culture of crunch and burnout among staff. The project saw its team size double in three months, causing integration difficulties and a shift in scope and quality.

While some workers recognized efforts to support diversity and inclusion under the new leadership, the report overall shows a large decrease in company culture. Former employees described a change from a previously positive and helpful environment to one marked by stress, a lack of understanding, and poor communication from the leadership.

The situation at Firesprite shows the ongoing difficulties that game studios experience after being acquired or merged. However, this may be even more difficult due to Sony’s recent layoffs and studio closures. Balancing a good work environment, meeting business goals, and blending different company cultures is a complex challenge in the gaming industry.

Sony has not publicly responded to the allegations outlined in the Eurogamer report. If you want to read the whole thing, you’ll find a bit more detail, but it is just a bunch of quotes strung together. We’ve covered the more important bits and made it a bit more understandable. The important part is that many former staff members allegedly had issues with the studio after Sony acquired it.

Jorge A. Aguilar

Jorge A. Aguilar

Jorge A. Aguilar, also known as Aggy, is the current Assigning Editor.

He started his career as an esports, influencer, and streaming writer for Sportskeeda. He then moved to GFinity Esports to cover streaming, games, guides, and news before moving to the Social team where he ended his time as the Lead of Social Content.

He also worked a writer and editor for both Pro Game Guides and Dot Esports, and as a writer for PC Invasion, Attack of the Fanboy, and Android Police. Aggy is the former Managing Editor and Operations Overseer of N4G Unlocked and a former Gaming editor for WePC.

Throughout his time in the industry, he's trained over 100 writers, written thousands of articles on multiple sites, written more reviews than he cares to count, and edited tens of thousands of articles. He has also written some games published by Tales, some books, and a comic sold to Telus International.

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