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Sony signs exclusive deal with Evolution Studios

WRC developer joins the ranks of SCEE's exclusive partners.

SCEE has announced the signing of an exclusive publishing deal with Evolution Studios, the UK-based developers of the World Rally Championship series, which will see the firm working exclusively on Sony platforms.

The Cheshire-based studio is currently working on World Rally Championship 4, due for release on the PlayStation 2 this October, while the company's satellite studio, BigBig, is developing an original title for the PlayStation Portable.

The new exclusivity deal will see the WRC franchise continuing on Sony's platforms, as well as covering the creation of new and original game titles - with Evolution also set to begin development on future Sony platforms.

This isn't the first such exclusivity deal to be arranged by Sony this year; back in March, the firm signed a similar agreement with Dutch development studio Guerrilla Games, which is currently working on the highly anticipated FPS title Killzone for the PS2.

Such moves are widely seen as an effort by SCEE to complement its already impressive internal development capacity by cultivating a Nintendo-esque network of "second party" studios - a move which not only guarantees continued support for existing platforms, but also gives the company an assurance of high quality early titles for its future systems.

"We've enjoyed an unparalleled working relationship with Evolution Studios over the past 4 years," according to SCEE's executive vice president for development, Phil Harrison, "and the quality of their work on the WRC franchise can be measured by the millions of loyal fans who love the series. This strategic alliance allows our organisations to work even more closely together as we prepare for the combined challenges of new formats and expanded game design horizons."

Evolution Studios was founded in 1999 by Digital Image Design founder Martin Kenwright (who is now managing director of the company) and Psygnosis founder Ian Hetherington, and has developed three successful titles in the World Rally Championship series for SCEE. Last year, the firm revealed plans to expand the studio through the establishment of satellite studios under the "Devolution" programme; BigBig Studios was the first studio to come under the auspices of this plan.

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