PlayStation Studios Malaysia to play expanded role in Sony’s most important franchises

Founded in 2020, PlayStation Studios Malaysia is the latest first-party PlayStation studio built from the ground up by Sony. Until recently, little was known about the projects the studio was working on, but now we have the answer. They all.

During a panel discussion at Level Up KL in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, Hasnul Hadi Samsudin, head of PlayStation Studios Malaysia, and Neil Ingram from PlayStation’s San Diego-based visual art team explained that Sony’s newest in-house startup studio is involved in the development of first-party games such as The Last of Us Part I and MLB The Show 2022, as well as playing a role in a number of other first-party titles.

From left: Neil Ingram, Senior Director of Visual Arts, PlayStation Studios, and Hasnul Hadi Samsudin, Head of PlayStation Studios Malaysia. | Photo by Daniel Robson

The new Malaysian studio was established in Kuala Lumpur as a support studio, working closely with PlayStation’s San Diego-based creative arts team, particularly the visual arts team. The studio has 77 employees, working on character models and other visual assets, as well as motion capture.

“It’s a very small contribution so far,” Samsudin responded when asked what kind of work the studio has done on MLB The Show and The Last of Us. “When we started, the team was very small. A lot of what we do is asset development, especially for the MLB games. In The Last of Us Part I, we had something called Death Hints, which are hints that tell the player what to do in certain situations. The (Sony) animation team was supposed to work on it, but they had a lot of work to do, so it was left to us. But now we have a full-fledged art team, and we can do environment modeling, concept art, and we also have a good animation team working on some games that I can’t talk about right now.”

We currently have a full-fledged art team that can do environment modeling and concept art, as well as a talented animation team that is working on a few games that I can’t talk about at the moment.

The San Diego visual arts team works on all first-party PlayStation games, as well as other Sony projects, such as assisting with CG animation tech on the Netflix series Love, Death & Robots. Ingram said his team is “working on 15 to 25 games at any given time.”

The addition of the new Malaysian studio will allow Sony to manage what it calls “global production,” making each game with collaboration from people all over the world. “The games are made on one planet,” Ingram said.

“We’re selling these amazing experiences to a global market, so we have to create them for a global market,” Ingram continued.

He cited industries such as VFX and mobile phone as leading the way in this thinking, and said the gaming industry is lagging behind.

Malaysia’s rapid growth as a gaming hub

Elsewhere at Level Up KL, PlayStation’s Malaysian studio gave a talk on motion capture, detailing some of the process in that area.

Over the past decade or so, Malaysia has become a major hub for supporting video game development, with studios such as Lemon Sky Studios, Passion Republic and Streamline Studios building on their technical expertise by working with leading Western and Japanese studios on franchises ranging from Street Fighter to Final Fantasy, Destiny and Dark Souls.

Kuala Lumpur is a city with a diverse mix of nationalities and cultures, boasting a low cost of living and a high standard of living, so the talent pool is growing rapidly. In addition to PlayStation, several international developers, including Bandai Namco, Codemasters and Larian Studios, have set up studios in Malaysia in the past few years.

Ingram explained how together with Samsudin, they had considered the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia as a base for the new studio, with the abundance of talented people there and the market potential being the deciding factors in setting up a new studio there.

“There’s nothing you can do in the world of AAA games that you can’t do in Malaysia,” Ingram says. “Not only are they efficient at doing the job, but their willingness to grow the local development community is key.”

Samsudin, who has been working remotely since the pandemic hit, has assembled a team of 77 employees, but only started working in the new office space this week. He shared photos of the beautifully designed office on his Twitter account, which garnered a lot of attention online.

Meanwhile, at Level Up KL, PlayStation’s booth was decorated with a fusion of its trademark circle, cross, square and triangle logo and traditional Malaysian cuisine, adding a unique local flavour to the company’s operations.

Malaysia is fast becoming a gaming hub. | Photo by Daniel Robson
Malaysia is fast becoming a gaming hub. | Photo by Daniel Robson

When asked by IGN Japan how players can benefit from PlayStation’s global production approach, and the efforts of the Kuala Lumpur team in particular, Samsudin replied, “I think the biggest benefit is that PlayStation is all about the experience. So we want to deliver the best quality so that the end user feels like they’re playing a PlayStation game and that means quality.”

“There’s a level of expectation that we all have and we all work towards it, and at the end of the day, the guys will have a smile on their face and say, ‘This is amazing.’ It doesn’t matter where it comes from, I hope the guys know it comes from all the great people here, but I just hope they enjoy the game.”

Thumbnail photo credit: Hasnul Hadi Samsudin

Daniel Robson is IGN Japan.

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