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Psygnosis Limited
IndustryVideo game industry
Founded1984; 35 years ago (1984)
FounderIan Hetherington
David Lawson
Jonathan Ellis
Defunct22 August 2012 (2012-08-22)
Napier Court, Wavertree Technology Park, Liverpool L13 1HD United Kingdom
ProductsLemmings series
Wipeout series
Colony Wars series
Formula One series
ParentSony Computer Entertainment

Psygnosis Limited (later known as SCE Studio Liverpool) was a video game developer and publisher headquartered at Wavertree Technology Park in Liverpool, England. Founded in 1984 by Jonathan Ellis, Ian Hetherington and David Lawson. The company was known for a number of well-received games on the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, among other platforms, and is best known for their Lemmings series.

In 1993, the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment and turned their attention to the original PlayStation platform. They later became known as Sony Studio Liverpool, organized as part of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios. Studio Liverpool was the oldest and second largest development house within Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's stable of developers, and is best known for the Wipeout series of futuristic racing games, with the first installment released in 1995. The studio is also known for the Formula One series of licensed racing games, and the Colony Wars series.

Reports of Studio Liverpool's closure surfaced on 22 August 2012, with Edge quoting staff tweets.[2] Staff were told the news by the vice president of Sony Worldwide Studios Europe, Michael Denny.[3] Sony said that the Liverpool site would remain in operation, as it was home to a number of Sony World Wide Studios and SCEE Departments.[4] At the time of its closure, it employed roughly one hundred people comprising two development teams. Mick Hocking oversaw Studio Liverpool's operations as its last Group Studio Director, a position he continued to hold within Evolution Studios.


As Psygnosis

The Psyclapse name was used on some early releases

Founded by Jonathan Ellis, Ian Hetherington and David Lawson, the Liverpool-based Psygnosis was indirectly born from the ashes of the defunct 8-bit game company Imagine Software, where Lawson was one of the founders and Hetherington was financial director. After the collapse of Imagine in 1984, the name and trademarks were bought by Ocean Software, while the rights of the software remained with original copyright owners.[] After Imagine, Lawson and Hetherington set up a new company called Finchspeed which used Bandersnatch (one of Imagine's much-hyped but never completed "Megagames") as the basis of what became Brataccas, the first game published by Psygnosis.[5]

The name of another Imagine Megagame - the proposed but never developed Psyclapse - was later used by Psygnosis as an alternative label for some of their releases,[6] such as Captain Fizz Meets The Blaster-Trons[7] and Ballistix.

Psygnosis produced only one title in 1986, Deep Space, a complex, difficult space exploration game. The box artwork was very distinctive with a black background and fantasy artwork bordered in red. This style was maintained for the better part of ten years. For the next few years, Psygnosis's releases contained increasingly improved graphics, but were marred by similarly difficult gameplay and control methods.

The original company headquarters were located at the Port of Liverpool Building at the Pier Head in Liverpool, but soon moved to Century Buildings in Brunswick Business Park (also in Liverpool), and later moved down the road 200 metres to South Harrington Building in South Harrington Dock.

Although Psygnosis primarily became a game publisher, some games were developed fully or partly in-house. During the early days, artists were employed full-time at the headquarters, offering third-party developers, who were often just single programmers, a high-quality art resource. This allowed Psygnosis to maintain high graphical standards across the board. The original artists were Garvan Corbett, Jeff Bramfitt, Colin Rushby and Jim Bowers, with Neil Thompson joining a little later.

Obliterator, released in 1988, contained an opening animation by Jim Bowers. This short scene would pave the way for increasingly sophisticated intro animations, starting with 2D hand drawn sequences, and progressing into FMV and 3D rendered movies created with Sculpt 4D on the Amiga. Eventually, Psygnosis would buy Silicon Graphics workstations for the sole purpose of creating these animations.

While most game companies of the mid-to-late 1980s (including Psygnosis) were releasing identical games on both the Amiga and Atari ST, Psygnosis started to use the full potential of the Amiga's more powerful hardware to produce technically stunning games, with the landmark title Shadow of the Beast bringing the company its greatest success so far in 1989. Its multi-layered parallax scrolling and music were highly advanced for the time and as such led to the game being used as a showcase demonstration for the Amiga in many computer shops.

Psygnosis consolidated its fame after publishing the DMA Design Lemmings game franchise: debuting in 1991 on the Amiga, Lemmings was ported to a plethora of different computer and video game platforms, generating many sequels and variations of its concept through the years. Microcosm, a game that appeared on the FM Towns, Amiga CD32, and 3DO furthered the company's reputation for games with excellent graphics but limited and poorly designed gameplay.

Psygnosis also created the "Face-Off" games in the Nickelodeon 1992 television game show, Nick Arcade, such as "Post Haste", "Jet Jocks" and "Battle of the Bands".

In 1993, the company was acquired by Sony Electronic Publishing.[8][9] In preparation for the September 1995 introduction of Sony's PlayStation console in Western markets, Psygnosis started creating games using the PlayStation as primary reference hardware. Among the most famous creations of this period were Wipeout, G-Police, and the Colony Wars series, some of which were ported to PC and to other platforms. Psygnosis stated that the PlayStation marked a turning point in their game design, and that their games were now moving away from the prerendered graphics and limited gameplay that the company had become associated with.[10] This was a successful period for the company; in the 1995-96 financial year, Psygnosis games accounted for 40% of all video games sales in Europe.[11]

The acquisition was rewarding for Sony in another aspect: development kits for PlayStation consoles. As it had previously published PSY-Q development kits for various consoles by SN Systems, Psygnosis arranged for them to create a development system for the PS based on cheap PC hardware. Sony evaluated the system during CES in January 1994 and decided to adopt it.[12]

As Psygnosis expanded after the Sony buyout, another satellite office was opened in Century Building with later offices opening in Stroud, England, London, Chester, Paris, Germany, and Foster City in California (as the Customer Support & Marketing with software development done in San Francisco), now the home of Sony Computer Entertainment America. The company headquarters has resided at Wavertree Technology Park since 1995.

The Stroud studio was opened in November 1993 in order to attract disgruntled MicroProse employees. Staff grew from initially about 50 to about 70 in 1997.[13] Among the titles created at Stroud are Overboard! and G-Police.[13] The Wheelhouse--its publishing name--was closed in 2000 as part of the Sony Computer Entertainment takeover of Psygnosis. Some members joined Bristol-based Rage Software, but faced a similar demise a number of years later.

Despite being owned by Sony, Psygnosis retained a degree of independence from its parent company during this period and continued to develop and publish titles for other platforms,[14] including the Sega Saturn[15][16] and the Nintendo 64.[17] This caused friction between Psygnosis and Sony, and in 1996 Sony engaged SBC Warburg's services in finding a buyer for Psygnosis.[18][19] However, though bids reportedly went as high as $300 million (more than ten times what Sony paid for the company just three years before),[20] after six months Sony rescinded its decision to sell Psygnosis. Relations between the two companies had improved during this time, and Sony became reconciled to Psygnosis releasing games for competing platforms.[21] Shortly after, Psygnosis took over distribution of its own titles, a task that Sony had been handling following the buyout.[22]

As Studio Liverpool

The SCE Studio Liverpool logo

In 2000, the publishing branch of the company was merged into Sony Computer Entertainment Europe as a whole, and the Psygnosis brand was dropped in favour of SCE Studio Liverpool, which marked the full integration of the studio within Sony Computer Entertainment. Psygnosis's Camden and Stroud studios were renamed Studio Camden (later merged with Team Soho to form SCE London Studio) and Studio Stroud.

The newly named SCE Studio Liverpool released its first title, Formula One 2001, in 2001. The game was also the studio's first release on the PlayStation 2, and the first entry in the Formula One series after taking over from developer Studio 33. From 2001 to 2007, Studio Liverpool released 8 installments in the series between the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3. However, Sony Computer Entertainment's exclusive licence with the Formula One Group expired, without renewal, before the 2007 season, marking the end of any further Formula One series installments from the developer.

Studio Liverpool also created Wipeout Fusion, the first of two installments of the series on the PlayStation 2, released in 2002. Next they developed Wipeout Pure for the PlayStation Portable, which launched alongside the handheld in 2005 to significant acclaim, with many media outlets heralding it a return to glory for the series. They followed up with the sequel Wipeout Pulse in 2007 which was later ported to the PlayStation 2 and released in Europe.

In 2008, they released Wipeout HD, a downloadable title for the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network service, consisting of various courses taken from both Wipeout Pure and Wipeout Pulse remade in high definition. An expansion pack for Wipeout HD named Wipeout HD Fury is available at PlayStation Network, including new game modes, new tracks, new music and new ship skins/models.[23] In 2007 a copy of Manhunt 2 was leaked online prior to its release by an employee from the Sony Europe Liverpool office.[24]

On 29 January 2010, Sony made a public statement.[25] The closure of Studio Liverpool was announced on 22 August 2012. In a press release Sony stated that after an assessment of all European studios, it had decided to close Studio Liverpool. Sony said that the Liverpool site would remain in operation, as it is home to a number of Sony World Wide Studios and SCEE Departments.[4]

Eurogamer was told by an unnamed source, that at the time of its closure, Studio Liverpool was working on two PlayStation 4 launch titles. One was a Wipeout title described as "dramatically different", the other was a motion capture based game along the lines of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell.[26]

Spin-off studios

In 2013 a number of former Studio Liverpool employees formed two new studios: Firesprite[27] which worked on the visuals of The Playroom for the PlayStation 4.,[28] and Playrise Digital who had success in the mobile sector with Table Top Racing and are now working on a brand version for PS4, Xbox One and PC called "Table Top Racing: World Tour".


XDev, Sony's external development studio is responsible for managing the development of titles at developers that are outside of Sony's own developer group. It has won 8 British Academy (BAFTA) video game awards and AIAS awards for LittleBigPlanet, 3 BAFTA awards for the Buzz! series and Develop Industry Excellence Awards for MotorStorm and Buzz!.[29]


Games developed or published as Psygnosis

Name Year Platforms Description
3D Lemmings 1995 DOS Also known as Lemmings 3D, a puzzle strategy game.
1996 PlayStation
Sega Saturn
3D Lemmings Winterland 1995 DOS An expansion for 3D Lemmings for the DOS version only, featuring additional levels and a winter theme.
3X: The Science of War
Adidas Power Soccer 1996 PlayStation
A Bug's Life (video game) 1998 PlayStation An adaptation of the movie A Bug's Life
A Bug's Life (video game) 1999 Microsoft Windows An adaptation of the movie A Bug's Life
Adidas Power Soccer: International '97 1997 PlayStation
Agony 1992 Amiga A side-scrolling shoot 'em up in a fantasy setting.
Air Support 1992 Amiga A top-down strategy game with a first-person view for some missions.
Atari ST
All New World of Lemmings 1995 Amiga A sequel to Lemmings 2 with some additional features.
1994 DOS
Alundra 1997 PlayStation An action adventure game about a boy who learns he has the power to enter people's dreams, acclaimed for its bizarre storyline and smooth gameplay.
2007 PlayStation Network
Amnios 1991 Amiga A top-down, multi-directional, scrolling, shoot 'em up set on ten different planets.
Anarchy 1990 Amiga A side-scrolling shooter where the player pilots a futuristic tank.
Atari ST
Aquaventura 1992
Armour-Geddon 1991 Amiga A strategy video game.
Atari ST
Armour-Geddon 2: Codename Hellfire 1994 Amiga A strategy video game.
Assault Rigs 1996 PlayStation An action game set in the near future featuring a tank simulation game.
1997 Sega Saturn
1996 Windows
Atomino 1990 Amiga A puzzle game based on building molecules from atoms.
Atari ST
1991 Commodore 64
1990 DOS
Attack of the Saucerman 1999 PlayStation An action game.
Awesome 1990 Amiga An action strategy science fiction game with a variety of gameplay styles.
Atari ST
FM Towns
Baal 1988 Amiga A platform shoot 'em up that garnered little attention or critical acclaim.
Atari ST
Commodore 64
Ballistix 1989 Acorn Electron A futuristic sports game involving a game with similarities to hockey and billiards.
Atari ST
BBC Micro
Commodore 64
1991 TurboGrafx-16
Barbarian 1987 Amiga A platform game featuring the eponymous muscle-bound barbarian. This title showcased the Atari ST and Amiga's superior multimedia capabilities.
1988 Amstrad CPC
1987 Atari ST
1988 Commodore 64
ZX Spectrum
Barbarian II 1991 Amiga 500 A fantasy action-adventure game featuring the same brute from the first game, Barbarian.
Atari ST
Benefactor 1994 Amiga A puzzle/platform game which shares some similarities to Lemmings.
Amiga CD32
Bill's Tomato Game 1992 Amiga A puzzle game, platform game where a tomato must rescue his girlfriend from a squirrel.
Atari ST
Blast Radius 1998 PlayStation A space combat simulator
Blood Money 1989 Amiga A scrolling shooter where the player travels through four different worlds; a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version was unreleased.
Atari ST
Commodore 64
Blue Ice 1995 Windows A graphical adventure puzzle video game.
Bob's Bad Day 1993 Amiga
Bram Stoker's Dracula 1993
Brataccas 1986
Brian the Lion 1994 Amiga A Platforming game.
The Carl Lewis Challenge 1992
Captain Fizz Meets The Blaster-Trons 1988 Also known as Icarus.
Carthage 1990 Amiga
Atari ST
Christmas Lemmings 1991 Also known as Holiday Lemmings.
Chronicles of the Sword 1996 DOS
Chrono Quest 1988 Amiga
Atari ST
Colony Wars 1997 PlayStation
Colony Wars: Vengeance 1998 PlayStation
Colony Wars: Red Sun 2000 PlayStation
Combat Air Patrol 1993
Creepers 1993
Cytron 1992
Darker 1995
Darkstalkers 1996 Responsible for PlayStation port.
Daughter of Serpents 1992 DOS
Deadline 1996
Deep Space 1986
Defcon 5 1995
Destruction Derby 1995
Destruction Derby 2 1996
Destruction Derby 64 1999
Destruction Derby Raw 2000
Diggers 2: Extractors 1995
Discworld 1995
Discworld II: Mortality Bytes! 1996 Except for the Saturn version.
Drakan: Order of the Flame 1999 Windows
Eagle One: Harrier Attack 1999
Ecstatica 1994
Ecstatica II 1997
Eliminator 1998 PlayStation
Expert Pool 1999 Windows
Formula 1 1996
Formula 1 97 1997
Formula 1 98 1998
Formula One 99 1999
Formula One 2000 2000
G-Police 1997 PlayStation
G-Police: Weapons of Justice 1999 PlayStation
Global Domination 1993
Globdule 1993
Guilty 1995
Hexx: Heresy of the Wizard 1994
Hired Guns 1993
Infestation 1990
Innocent Until Caught 1993
The Killing Game Show 1990 Also known as Fatal Rewind.
Kingsley's Adventure 1999 PlayStation
Krazy Ivan 1996
Lander 1999
Last Action Hero 1993
Leander 1991
Lemmings 1991 Amiga Debatably Psygnosis's most successful game.
Atari ST
ZX Spectrum
Amiga CDTV
SNES/Super Famicom
Acorn Archimedes
Arcade (prototype)
Sharp X68000
TurboGrafx 16 CD/PC Engine CD
Atari Lynx
Sega Master System
Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
Amstrad CPC
Sam Coupé
Commodore 64
Amiga CD32
Philips CD-i
Sega Game Gear
Game Boy
Panasonic 3DO
Windows 95
Apple Macintosh
Sony PlayStation
Game Boy Color
Sony PSP
Sony PS3[30]
Lemmings 2: The Tribes 1993
Lemmings Paintball 1996
Lemmings Revolution 2000
Lifeforce Tenka 1997
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein 1994
Matrix Marauders 1990
Menace 1988
Metal Fatigue 2000
Mickey's Wild Adventure 1996 PlayStation A platform game featuring Disney's Mickey Mouse who travels back in time to his original cartoons.
2011 PlayStation Network
Microcosm 1993
Muppet RaceMania 2000
Misadventures of Flink 1994
Nations: WWII Fighter Command 1999
Nevermind 1989
Nitro 1990
Novastorm 1994
O.D.T. - Escape... Or Die Trying 1998
Obitus 1991
Obliterator 1988
Oh No! More Lemmings 1991
Ork 1991
Overboard! 1997
Panzer Elite 1999
Perihelion: The Prophecy 1993
Prime Mover 1993
Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame 1993 Publisher of the canceled Mega Drive port.
Pro 18 World Tour Golf 1999 PlayStation
Professional Underground League of Pain 1997 DOS Known as Riot in Europe.
Psybadek 1998
Puggsy 1993 Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
Sega CD/Mega CD
Pyrotechnica 1995
Rascal 1998
Rastan 1988
Retro Force 1999
Roll Away 1998 Known as Kula World in Europe, and Kula Quest in Japan.
Rollcage 1999 PlayStation
Rollcage Stage II 2000 PlayStation
Rosco McQueen Firefighter Extreme 1997
Rush Hour 1997 Known as Speedster in Europe, and BatleRound USA in Japan.
The Second Samurai 1994
Sentient 1997
Sentinel Returns 1998
Shadow Master 1997 PlayStation
Shadow of the Beast 1989
Shadow of the Beast II 1990
Shadow of the Beast III 1992
Silverload 1995 DOS A horror adventure game.
Shipwreckers! 1997
Spice World 1998 PlayStation
Stryx 1990
Team Buddies 2000
Tellurian Defense 1999
Terrorpods 1987
Adventures of Lomax, TheThe Adventures of Lomax 1996 PlayStation A platform game, a spin-off of Lemmings, the player is a Lemming who must save his friends.
The City of Lost Children 1997
Theatre of Death 1993
Thunder Truck Rally 1997 PlayStation Known as Monster Trucks in Europe.
Toy Story 1996
Tricks N' Treasures
Urban Assault (cancelled) 1999 PlayStation A port of the FPS/RTS hybrid game developed by TerraTools and Microsoft, that was outsourced to Climax Entertainment, and that was never announced nor released. The port remained undiscovered until 2016, where it was found on a sale of old Climax assets. The original PC game's source code was also found on the Climax lot.
Walker 1993
Wipeout 1995 PlayStation
Wipeout 64 1998 Nintendo 64
Wipeout: 2097/Wipeout XL 1996 PlayStation
Wipeout 3 1999 PlayStation
Wipeout 3: Special Edition 2000 PlayStation
Wiz 'n' Liz: The Frantic Wabbit Wescue 1993
X-It 1995
Zombieville 1998

Games developed as SCE Studio Liverpool

See also


  1. ^ "Trivia for Psygnosis Limited".
  2. ^ Brown, Nathan (22 August 2012). "Sony to close Studio Liverpool - Edge Magazine". Archived from the original on 6 December 2012. Retrieved 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ Crossley, Rob. "PlayStation News: Sony to axe Liverpool studio". Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ a b Yin-Poole, Wesley (22 August 2012). "Sony closes WipEout developer Sony Liverpool o News o". Archived from the original on 23 August 2012. Retrieved 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. ^ "The Making Of: Bandersnatch - Edge Magazine". 4 September 2009. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "Psygnosis History". The Purple One. Archived from the original on 29 August 2015. Retrieved 2015. Psyclapse was actually the name of a Commodore 64 game that was never released [but] was to live on as a division of Psygnosis. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ "Captain Fizz Meets the Blaster-Trons (Advert)". Lemon Amiga. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ "SCE Worldwide Studios - SCE Studio Liverpool". 20 February 2009. Archived from the original on 31 January 2013. Retrieved 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ "The 7th International Computer Game Developers Conference". Computer Gaming World. July 1993. p. 34. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ "PlayStation: Sony's Bid for Power". Next Generation. Imagine Media (3): 41. March 1995.
  11. ^ "Sony's Video Games Onslaught Continues!". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (7): 72-73. June 1996.
  12. ^ "History of the PlayStation - PSX Feature at IGN". 28 August 1998. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ a b "E3: Psygnosis Co-founder Speaks: part 2 - PSX News at IGN". 19 June 1997. Archived from the original on 13 February 2012. Retrieved 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  14. ^ "Publisher: Psygnosis". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  15. ^ "Psygnosis Develops for Saturn". 2 February 1996. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  16. ^ "Sleeping with the Enemy". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 81. Sendai Publishing. April 1996. p. 20.
  17. ^ "Psygnosis to Develop for N64". 17 April 1998. Retrieved 2015.
  18. ^ "Divorce for Sony and Psygnosis". Next Generation. No. 19. Imagine Media. July 1996. p. 14.
  19. ^ "Sony May Sell Psygnosis". GamePro. No. 95. IDG. August 1996. pp. 16-17.
  20. ^ Svensson, Christian (November 1996). "Psygnosis Bidding Hits $300 Million". Next Generation. No. 23. Imagine Media. p. 26.
  21. ^ Svensson, Christian (February 1997). "Sony Halts Psygnosis Sale". Next Generation. No. 26. Imagine Media. p. 28.
  22. ^ "Tidbits...". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 94. Ziff Davis. May 1997. p. 20.
  23. ^ Buckley, Tony (1 June 2009). "WipEout HD Fury Expansion Pack - PlayStation.Blog.Europe". Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  24. ^ "Manhunt 2 leaked by Sony Europe employee". Archived from the original on 11 September 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  25. ^ Elliott, Phil (28 January 2010). "Sony to restructure Liverpool studio | GamesIndustry International". Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  26. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (22 August 2012). "Sources: Sony Liverpool was working on WipEout PS4 and a Splinter Cell style game for PS4 o News o". Archived from the original on 24 August 2012. Retrieved 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  27. ^ Wawro, Alex (5 December 2013). "Former Psygnosis/Studio Liverpool devs unite to form Firesprite". Gamasutra. Think Services. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  28. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (6 December 2013). "From the ashes of WipEout dev Studio Liverpool rises Firesprite". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on 8 December 2013. Retrieved 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  29. ^ "SCE Worldwide Studios - Publishing Europe". 25 February 2009. Archived from the original on 15 June 2012. Retrieved 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  30. ^ "Lemmings - the Lemmings Encyclopedia".

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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