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Sony Game Division Finds New Westside Home for Santa Monica Studio

The Reserve also houses TMZ, while Playa Vista has lured Google's YouTube, Microsoft, EA and ad agencies like Team One, Deutsch and TBWAChiatDay

Sony may be slashing costs across its film studio, but its games division — propped up recently by the launch of the PlayStation 4 — is in expansion mode.

Sony Computer Entertainment’s Santa Monica Studio, which produces Sony’s “God of War” franchise is moving from its cramped headquarters to the southwest corner of the Reserve, a large 20-acre facility on Jefferson Boulevard, in Playa Vista this summer. (No word yet if the studio will update its name, accordingly).

Sony is the latest media giant to move into Playa Vista; Microsoft, Google’s YouTube, TMZ, and ad agencies Team One, Deutsch, TBWAChiatDay and Zimmerman Advertising recently set up shop there. Electronic Arts already was in the area that’s been nicknamed Silicon Beach.

New headquarters, which once housed a post office, will provide the game studio with 85,000 square feet of space, and serve as the home for its designers, artists, engineers, producers, music and administrative staff.

“We took some time to hone in on location,” said Shannon Studstill, founder and head of Sony Santa Monica, where she produced its first game “Kinetica,” before heading up the “God of War” franchise, one of Sony’s biggest hits. She recently oversaw “PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.” “We love Santa Monica. It’s been our home for over a decade.”

But Studstill was attracted to the Reserve building, given the 30,000 square feet of open-air floor plan the redesigned office space offers to Sony’s production teams.

“It’s four or five times the size we have now,” and encourages collaboration, Studstill said. The current space is a long building, which the exec describes like a dinner table, making communication difficult.

Six separate kitchens in the Santa Monica space will also be combined into one in the new facility. “We’re going to drive traffic to that space,” Studstill said, “and hopefully create more of a culture of sharing.”

Sony Santa Monica has around 240 employees — making it seem a little more boutique in size when compared to the staff levels of other studios, which can be upward of 800.

Studstill likes it that way.

The Santa Monica facility was known for helping independent gamemakers like thatgamecompany, Giant Sparrow and Superbot, formerly Broodworks, produce their titles by providing funding and office space.

New facility will continue to do that but also have additional room to house two indie studios at the same time versus just one as it does now.

“With the new space we will have more to offer,” Studstill said, including more conference rooms, an improved sound bay, and a motion capture studio.

“We’re building on what we know,” Studstill said.

Over the next year, the studio is working on “Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture” and “Hohokum,” as well as versions of thatgamecompany’s “flOw” and “Flower” for the PS4 platform in order to “extend the player opportunities” for the indie games. New installments of “God of War” are likely.

Studstill said she anticipates the studio’s team to grow at some point.

“We’re always looking at opportunity hires and enhancing the creative workforce,” she said.

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