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Originally published March 30, 2012 at 7:08 PM | Page modified March 30, 2012 at 7:21 PM

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Sony to close Zipper game studio in Redmond

In a blow to the Seattle-area game industry, Sony confirmed Friday that it's closing Zipper Interactive, the Redmond studio that created...

Seattle Times senior technology reporter

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In a blow to the Seattle-area game industry, Sony confirmed Friday that it's closing Zipper Interactive, the Redmond studio that created the hit "SOCOM" action-game franchise.

The shutdown comes just a month after Zipper released "Unit 13," a shooting game for Sony's new PlayStation Vita handheld-gaming device.

The company has more than 80 employees. It's unclear whether any will be transferred to other Sony studios.

In a statement, Sony said the closure is part of "a normal cycle of resource realignment." It comes at the end of Sony's fiscal year, during which it's estimated to have lost $2.9 billion.

Zipper's closure comes exactly one year after Sony closed Sony Online Entertainment, another major Seattle-area gaming studio, which was established in 2004. That shutdown was part of a broader layoff of 205 employees that also scuttled "The Agency," an online-spy game the Bellevue studio was developing.

Sony continues to have a presence in the area, though. Last August it bought Bellevue's Sucker Punch Productions, which created the hit "inFamous" series for the PlayStation 3.

Zipper was started in 1995 by veterans of defense-contracting companies who went on to produce strikingly realistic military-action games that helped establish Sony's PlayStation gaming platform.

After developing a series of PC games, the company began working with Sony in 2002 to develop "SOCOM" for the PlayStation 2. The game was introduced alongside a network adapter that gave the PS2 online capabilities.

Sony bought Zipper in 2006, and the "SOCOM" franchise eventually sold more than 12 million units.

Other recent games included "SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs," which showcased Sony's "Move" motion-control system for the PlayStation 3. It was supposed to be a Move launch title in fall 2010, but was delayed until early 2011.

In early 2010, Zipper released "MAG," an ambitious, multiplayer title that let up to 256 people play together at once in massive war games.

In its statement, Sony said Zipper had completed all work associated with "Unit 13" and that "MAG," "SOCOM 4" and "Unit 13" will continue to be supported.

Brier Dudley: 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com

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