SuperBot Entertainment is known as the developer of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, but a few months after the game’s release, Sony Computer Entertainment cut ties with the company. So where are they now and how did they come to be? Here is the story of SuperBot Entertainment.
Shannon Studstill, an executive producer and director of internal production for series such as Warhawk, Twisted Metal Head On, and the God of War series, began a studio. After leaving EA (in which she spent 18 months at), Studstill founded the company in 2009, Broodworks, as a second party developer for Sony. The studio was rumored to be initially going to be working on “medium casual video game development” for the PlayStation Portable and possibly the PlayStation Vita. However, nothing came out of the studio since the company founded until it was renamed SuperBot Entertainment. Perhaps, Broodworks was a company that was simply helping Sony’s first party titles. Shannon Studstill, the founder of Broodworks left in May 2011. Shannon Studstill is currently Senior Director at Sony Computer Entertainment.
Chan Park became President of the company, and Omar Kendall, the director of UFC Undisputed for THQ, was brought into the studio to be the creative director of a new game called Title Fight. The game was a concept at the time, constructed by Sony Santa Monica, but was passed on to SuperBot Entertainment. The studio was also proclaimed to be “purpose built” for the game as they hired developers from both UFC Undisputed and Mortal Kombat for the project. An initial concept video for the game was shown at San Diego Comic Con later during a panel for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
It features the Eucadian Soldier from Warhawk, Kratos, Parappa The Rapper and Fat Princess fighting on a stage that is inspired by the train level from Uncharted 2. It also features the blend of Warhawk ships which shoot missiles at the characters. In addition, A God of War stage with Hades in the background is shown, and the concept was mostly present in the final product, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
Paul Gale, an insider of the industry, leaked the render of Sweet Tooth for the project, and said that Parappa the Rapper, Sly Cooper, Nathan Drake, Fat Princess, Kratos, Sweet Tooth, and Radec were going to be in the game. This turned out to be correct. On April 27th 2012, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale was officially announced on GameTrailers TV. The game was initially proclaimed to be a “Super Smash Bros” clone immediately, even by now former IGN writer, Colin Moriarty, who said that Sony and SuperBot Entertainment “blatantly and unabashedly borrowed from Nintendo’s ubiquitous brawler Super Smash Bros. in innumerable ways.” However, Moriarty further stated that “it’s not very often that a clone gives its inspiration a serious run for its money […] and it seems ready to just do that.” This initial thought, on the other hand, remained to be a factor even to this day. In fact, Omar Kendall, when asked if he was able to bring any character to the game that is impossible of getting, jokingly said that he would like to include Mario.
As development continued to grow, so did the team. A few notable inclusions from the fighting game community were Seth Killian and Daniel Maniago (Clockwork). Seth Killian was assigned lead game designer for the project after being community manager and advisor with Capcom for Street Fighter 4. Clockwork worked as a community manager.
When the game released on November 20th 2012, the game received a Metacritic score of 74. The game was critiqued for having a lacking single player campaign while offering solid fighting game mechanics.
When speaking on Podcast Beyond, Shuhei Yoshida, the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, said that PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale sold “over a million copies.” Seth Killian, later on, said to Sturdy Pine that “it sold well.” The studio in the months afterwards released Kat, Emmett, Issac Clarke, and Zeus as additional DLC. Further stages were created as well, including a Heavenly Sword/Wipeout stage, and a Medieval/The Unfinished Swan stage. Some concepts created during development included Dart from The Legend of Dragoon, and a Gravity Rush/Journey stage, but these were scrapped. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale won one of the most prestigious awards in the gaming industry, DICE’s Best Fighting Game of 2012. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale won over the likes of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Street Fighter X Tekken, Soul Calibur V, and Persona 4 Arena.
In February 2013, however, Sony Computer Entertainment and SuperBot Entertainment parted ways. Sony Santa Monica was put in charge to finish the Issac Clarke and Zeus DLC which would be included for free with God of War: Ascension. The studio, after fan feedback, would later announce a balance patch that would fix the balance issues in the game. This, however, took a long time to develop as it was finally available on April 8, 2014. Just before February 2013, SuperBot Entertainment seemed as though they were hiring more people for a sequel or further content, but unfortunately this was not the case.
Fans began to speculate whether or not the company closed operations, as none of their social outlets have been updated since the split. However, in an interview with Edge Online (via Polygon), SuperBot Entertainment (David Yang, the director of operations at the company) confirmed that they will be building a new IP. He also mentioned that “they have substantially shrunk down operations” Later on, however, it seemed that there were many layoffs at this “purpose-built” studio and this new IP turned out to be not what the fans were expecting.
In a joint partnership with Section Studios, SuperBot Entertainment began work on an edutainment game for kids called CuddleFish Friends for iOS and Android. According to a press release, they were trying to build a “uniquely engaging interactive book experience that teaches about the ocean and its creatures.” This fell under the radar, and very few gaming websites picked up on it. Even the PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale fans were unaware of it. The game released on September 23rd, 2013.
After developing CuddleFish Friends for the iOS and Android in co-operation with Section Studios, the studio seemingly closed down as the website, at the time of writing, is non-existent. Their social media outlets also weren’t updated shortly after their split with Sony Computer Entertainment. In addition, SuperBot Entertainment’s Facebook, Pinterest, Foursquare and YouTube accounts have been deleted and someone has hacked the Twitter account. The takedown of SuperBot Entertainment’s website and multiple social media outlets leads to the idea that the company has closed. As of February 2014, the studio was finishing Book 2 for CuddleFish Friends and they released the game on May 30th, 2014. SuperBot Entertainment since that February 2014 post has been silent.
Whatever the case, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale still remains to have an active community, and many hope a sequel comes to light. SuperBot Entertainment, if you indeed closed, your fans will miss you.
Sources: Engadget, LinkedIn, IGN, Paul Gale Network, Operation Rainfall, Sturdy Pine, Event Hubs, Edge Online (via Polygon), PlayStation Euphoria (via Polygon), App Modo, prMac, Facebook.