Founded in 2020, PlayStation Studios Malaysia is the newest first-party PlayStation studio to be created from the ground up by Sony. Until recently, very little has been known about the projects this studio is working on – but now we know the answer. They’re working on everything.
Speaking during a panel at Level Up KL in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, PlayStation Studios Malaysia head Hasnul Hadi Samsudin and Neil Ingram from PlayStation’s San Diego-based Visual Arts team explained how Sony’s newest internal startup studio has been involved in working on first-party games like The Last of Us Part I and MLB The Show 2022, as well as playing a role in many other first-party titles.
The new Malaysia studio was founded in Kuala Lumpur as a support studio, working closely with PlayStation’s Creative Arts team based in San Diego, and more specifically the Visual Arts team within it. The studio has 77 employees working on creating character models and other visual assets as well as motion capture and more.
“So far it’s a very small contribution,” said Samsudin when asked what work his studio carried out on MLB The Show and The Last of Us. “When we started, the team was very small. A lot of what we are doing is asset development for the games, especially for MLB. For The Last of Us Part I, there was this thing called Death Hints, which are tips that tell the player what to do in certain situations, and (Sony’s) animation team were supposed to be working on them but there was a lot to be done, so that came to us. But now we have a full-fledged art team, so we can do environment modeling, concept art, and we have a brilliant animation team that is working on some games that we can’t talk about right now.”
The Visual Arts team in San Diego also touches every first-party game that comes out of PlayStation, as well as other Sony projects such as aiding CG animation tech for Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots series. Ingram said his team “works on 15 to 25 games at any one time”.
Adding the new Malaysia studio to this equation helps Sony to manage what it calls “global production”, whereby each game is made with the help of hands across the globe. As Ingram put it, “It’s one planet making games”.
“You’re selling these amazing experiences to a global market, so you have to make them in a global market,” Ingram continued.
He cited the VFX and mobile phone industries among others as leading the way in this thinking, stating that the game industry has lagged behind.
Malaysia’s rapid growth as a gaming hub
Elsewhere at Level Up KL, PlayStation’s Malaysia studio held a talk on motion capture, where they detailed some of their processes in that field.
Over the past decade or so, Malaysia has become a prime location for videogame development support. Studios such as Lemon Sky Studios, Passion Republic, Streamline Studios and many more have built up impressive technical knowhow by working with major Western and Japanese studios on series from Street Fighter to Final Fantasy to Destiny to Dark Souls.
The talent pool is growing rapidly, with Kuala Lumpur a city that boasts a high standard of living at a low cost for a rich mix of nationalities and cultures. Along with PlayStation, Bandai Namco, Codemasters and Larian Studios are among the overseas developers to launch studios in Malaysia over the past few years.
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Ingram explained how he and Samsudin toured Malaysia as they considered the Southeast Asian country as the location for their new studio. The large local talent pool and market potential were deciding reasons in founding the new studio there.
“There’s nothing that can be done in our world of AAA games that can’t be done here in Malaysia,” said Ingram. “It’s not just a case of them being able to do the work efficiently, but also the local development community’s ambition to grow.”
Samsudin has assembled his team of 77 employees under remote-work conditions due to the pandemic, but just this week they have finally begun to work at their new office space. Samsudin shared photos of the beautifully designed office on his personal Twitter feed, sparking a wave of interest online.
Meanwhile, at Level Up KL, the PlayStation booth was decorated with a rendition of the trademark circle, cross, square and triangle logo blended with traditional Malaysian cuisine, lending a distinct local flavor to their operation.
When asked by IGN Japan what benefit players stand to gain from PlayStation’s global production approach and his Kuala Lumpur team’s effort specifically, Samsudin replied, “I think the biggest benefit is that PlayStation is all about experiences. So we want to bring the best quality so that the end user feels that they are playing a PlayStation game and that this is what quality means.
“There is a level of expectation that we all have and we all strive for, and at the end of the day, the players will smile and say ‘This is great’. It doesn’t matter where it came from – it would be nice for the players to know that it came from all these great people here, but I hope they will just enjoy the games.”
Photo Credit: Hasnul Hadi
Daniel Robson is the editor of IGN Japan.