Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian creator Fumito Ueda has left Sony, Eurogamer understands.

Japanese video game development sources indicated the 41-year-old is working on finishing oft-delayed PlayStation 3 exclusive The Last Guardian in a freelance capacity.

Ueda's departure from Sony internal development studio Team Ico is one of the reasons for the game's protracted development, Eurogamer was told.

Following the completion of the game, Ueda will embark on personal projects.

In September Sony reassured gamers that Team Ico was still "hard at work" on The Last Guardian, despite the high-profile PS3 exclusive missing the Tokyo Game Show.

The previous month SCE Studios president Shuhei Yoshida gave an exasperated-sounding Last Guardian progress update:

"It's been very difficult in terms of seeing the progress: not as fast as we'd been hoping for, and the team has been under big pressure," he said.

The Last Guardian was delayed earlier this year to an unspecified time in 2012. The cat-eagle adventure was originally slated for a "late 2011" release.

Ueda was director and lead designer on PlayStation 2 games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, which both took four years to develop.

The Last Guardian was first mentioned as being in development over four years ago, in February 2007, by Japanese magazine Famitsu. It was eventually revealed at E3 2009 with an eye-catching trailer. However, it failed to show at E3 2011, Gamescom 2011 and Tokyo Game Show 2011.

Sony told Eurogamer it does not comment on rumour and speculation.

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Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

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