Matt Southern, Evolution Studios group game director, has revealed his fear that the troubled launch and subsequent commercial failure of MotorStorm Apocalypse "might be the end" of the Sony-owned developer.
However, with the Runcorn-based outfit now making a new entry in the highly-regarded racing series for the European Vita launch, Southern hailed Sony for backing his team, telling Eurogamer TV: "[It has] defended us and protected us and allowed us to experiment".
Originally due for release on 18th March, PS3 racer MotorStorm Apocalypse was delayed by Sony due to "parallels" between its setting and the earthquake that devastated Japan earlier that month.
So, despite being praised as "the best MotorStorm yet" in its Eurogamer eight-out-of-ten review, major retailers cancelled pre-orders, its rescheduled release debuted at a disappointing 17 in the UK charts, and the game was eventually canned outright in Japan.
"It's been quite a tough year for us, especially early on in the year," said Southern. "We made a game we're really proud of and for some really heartbreaking reasons things didn't go so well. In perspective we've got nothing to complain about.
"I was worried it might be the end of Evolution," he added. "Racing has had a very tough time, even without extraordinary circumstances like the ones we went through."
Two major UK racing game studios, Black Rock and Bizarre Creations, were closed by Disney and Activision respectively in 2011 due to poor sales.
With MotorStorm RC announced last week for Vita and PS3, Southern spoke of his "absolute joy to have been part of Sony", owing to the support Evolution has received.
"We split the company up into three teams, one making RC, one supporting MotorStorm Apocalypse post-launch with DLC and multiplayer, and another bunch of guys just brainstorming new ideas. In a climate like the one we've had this year, that is rare."
Once RC was given the green light, Southern revealed, "we all started to pick ourselves up and get excited about it. We're not out of it yet, [but] things are turning round, I think. The studio's really, really buzzing now."