Sony Online Entertainment closes three studios; social games suffer? [Updated]

Sony Online Entertainment(Update: SOE has provides an official response on the closure's effects on social games. Find the statement after the break.)

Sony Online Entertainment
(SOE) has made an upsetting move today, closing its Denver, Seattle and Tuscon studios while laying off a total of 205 employees, Joystiq reports. While SOE has yet to make official confirmation, its social games could take a hit as both SOE Denver and Tucson worked on Facebook games. Sony's "strategic decision to reduce costs and streamline its global workforce" will result in the cancellation of development on The Agency, its awaited spy-combat MMO that SOE Seattle was working on.

The move was also made in favor of focusing development strength on the company's upcoming Planetside and Everquest MMOs. Unfortunately, the only studio left to create Facebook games is SOE headquarters in San Diego, Calif, which just released Catch A Killer on Facebook. Our best wishes go out to all those affected by the closures. SOE's full statement is after the break.

Here's the official statement from SOE provided to Joystiq:
As part of a strategic decision to reduce costs and streamline its global workforce, SOE announced today that it will eliminate 205 positions and close its Denver, Seattle and Tucson studios. As part of this restructuring, SOE is discontinuing production of The Agency so it can focus development resources on delivering two new MMOs based on its renowned PlanetSide and EverQuest properties, while also maintaining its current portfolio of online games. All possible steps are being taken to ensure team members affected by the transition are treated with appropriate concern.

This strategic decision will have no impact on SOE's current portfolio of live games; additionally SOE will transition development efforts for the Denver and Tucson studios' suite of products to its San Diego headquarters. This strategic alignment of development resources better positions SOE to remain a global leader in online gaming and deliver on its promise of creating entertaining games for players of all ages, and servicing the 20 million players that visited SOE servers in just the past year.
SOE Seattle also developed and released a Facebook companion game for the The Agency called The Agency: Covert Ops. As for SOE Tucson, some of its team created PoxNora for Facebook last year. While it's yet to be confirmed, these projects could very well be shuttered right along with The Agency. We've contacted SOE for comment.

Official comment from SOE regarding its effect on social games:
Our free-to-play, casual games and all other live titles will continue on being supported. This strategic decision will have no impact on SOE's current portfolio of games and will better position SOE to deliver on its promise of developing entertaining games for players of all ages and remaining a global leader in online gaming.

What do you think of SOE's decision to close three studios that created social games? What does this spell for the future of SOE in the social games space? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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