Following a series of rumors that Ico creator Fumito Ueda has left his position at Sony, Gamasutra can confirm that the esteemed creator is no longer an employee at the company.
In a statement received by Gamasutra on Monday, Sony confirmed that while the creator is no longer working as an employee, he is finishing the upcoming The Last Guardian on a contract basis, and is "committed to completing" the project.
Ueda's sudden departure is particularly significant, as The Last Guardian is still in mid-development, and is very much a product of Ueda's creative influence. In addition, Ueda's pedigree of successful games has placed him among Sony's top developers -- making this move a notable loss for the company.
Since joining Sony in 1997, Ueda has released just two titles: Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. While his catalog might be sparse, both games stand among Sony's most celebrated classics, with modern developers still lauding even the decade-old Ico as one of their primary influences.
Prior to joining Sony, Ueda worked at the now-shuttered WARP, where he worked as an animator on the 1996 sci-fi horror title Enemy Zero for Sega Saturn.
The Last Guardian will be Ueda's first project to be released since Shadow of the Colossus in 2005. First revealed in May 2009, the game has seen numerous delays and has been withheld from the public eye for quite some time, with Gamasutra's most recent update dating back to September of last year.
The news of Ueda's departure follows similar news from last week, when The Last Guardian producer Yoshifusa Hayama announced his decision to leave Sony for social gaming company Bossa Studios.