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Sony Santa Monica Moves to Playa Vista

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By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

July 22, 2014 – The Santa Monica-based video game developer that produced the popular “God of War” franchise as well as a number of cult hits began moving its studio to neighboring Playa Vista Monday.

Sony Santa Monica’s move is the latest by tech companies, including Google, that have left the beachside City, which has been gaining a reputation as a high tech center.

The move was announced last January as part of an initiative by the gaming studio to expand its operations from its cramped Santa Monica office to a 20-acre facility dubbed “The Reserve” on Jefferson Boulevard in Playa Vista.  

There it will join other big-name companies, including Youtube and TMZ, lured by the new facilities designed specifically for tech companies.

The new headquarters will reportedly provide the game company with 85,000 square feet of space, and serve as the home for its approximately 240 designers, artists, engineers, producers, and music and administrative staff.

“We took some time to hone in on location,” Shannon Studstill, founder and head of Sony Santa Monica, told Variety. “We love Santa Monica. It’s been our home for over a decade.”

Studstill said the new space is “four or five times the size we have now,” and encourages collaboration,. The old space is described as a long building, which management likens to a dinner table, making communication difficult.

Santa Monica has gained a reputation for housing a number of start-up tech companies and has earned the name “Silicon Beach,” a term based on the “Silicon Valley” area in Northern California where major tech giants – such as Google, Apple and Facebook – first started and are headquartered.

The studio move strikes a blow to Santa Monica’s reputation, as the game developer is one of Sony’s most successful video game subsidiaries.

But according to Santa Monica Economic Development Manager Jason Harris, the Sony move is just part of an ongoing tech boom cycle on the Westside, where companies grow quickly and eventually move. 

At the same time big companies move out, smaller start ups take advantage of existing infrastructure and move into the empty spaces, starting the cycle over.

“All the boats are rising and someone’s going to move back in,” Harris said. “But most times when someone decides to leave a company, they’ll come back to a place they’re familiar with.

“You see it all the time in Santa Monica,” he said. “They got their start here and then the company leaves. But when they want to start something on their own, they’ll come back.”

Sony Santa Monica is not the first such company to leave Santa Monica for brighter shores.

Google, one of the first major tech companies to open an office in Santa Monica, announced it was leaving for Venice in 2011.

However, Santa Monica will still have a Sony presence within its borders. Naughty Dog, a Sony video game developer that created the popular Crash Bandicoot franchise for the original Playstation, will stay at its headquarters located at the Water Garden complex.

Already a day in their new studio, Sony Santa Monica has already announced a major project for the Playstation 4, which is owned and distributed by Sony Entertainment.

 "Our next great game for @PlayStation 4 will be created in this new studio right here #TheReserve," the company announced on Twitter Sunday.

Though details are sketchy, industry experts are speculating that the Studio will announce a new installment in the popular “God of War” franchise, in time to be included in GamesCon 2014 – a Toronto-based video game convention in August.

In addition to the God of War franchise, Sony Santa Monica also developed the equally popular “Twisted Metal” game as well as third party cult classics “Fat Princess” and “Journey” for the Playstation 3.

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