Ex-PlayStation Boss Has Warning For Games Industry

Shawn Layden has been away from PlayStation for four years now, but retirement hasn’t stopped him from weighing in on bigger gaming trends. A long time ago changing blockbuster development budgetsthe former CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America added studio consolidation and the state of game preservation to his warnings for the video game industry.

Last month, Layden shared some of these weather concerns his keynote speech at the GamesIndustry.biz Investment Summit. “”First, consolidation can be an enemy of creativity,” he said, referring to a purchase of several game publishers. “I also think that the increase in gaming costs is an existential threat to all of us. And the entry of (Google, Netflix, Apple and Amazon) into the sector—also known as ‘barbarians at the gate.'”

The lifelong Sony veteran, who stepped down in 2019 amid a corporate reshuffling, expanded on some of these points in a interview last week with the Lan Party podcast. Since leaving the PlayStation 5 creator, Layden, perhaps unintentionally, sometimes took the role of an off-stage chorus of a Greek tragedy, indicating the possibility of impending doom if the game companies do not ” disrupt” themselves before the market. by finding broader appeal and more sustainable business models.

A perennial critic in the trend toward 40-60 hour blockbusters that take several years and hundreds of millions to develop, Layden talks about the need for companies to “de-risk” expensive projects by back to sequels and building Hollywood franchises. The recent race to acquire studios, with Microsoft, Sony, Embracer, Take-Two, and more spending billions to add to their portfolios, may lead to less creativity because several teams are put to work to serve the projects.

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“My concern with consolidation is that it often affects creativity. For example, it takes small, independent, wildhorse studios and brings them into a larger conglomerate and essentially time slows down the bigger you are. , time slows down,” said Layden. “I also worry when studios are bought and instead of finding a way to make their game, they might be absorbed into a bigger business that makes a bigger that game, you know, how many studios are involved in making blockbuster games to stagger. the mind.”

He said that in certain instances, acquisitions can save studios from closing and he’s glad to see that, but he remains concerned about the long-term impact of the larger trend. “I’m just concerned about what this will do to spur creativity within the studios, and will they be able to keep that kind of independent creativity alive or will they be absorbed into the larger whole? Time will tell, but it’s a little bit of a concern. When you go from hundreds of voices to a lot of voices, you lose some voices,” Layden said.

The Aloy flows towards Burning Shores.

PICTURE: Guerrilla Games

The former executive also questioned how many games would continue to grow by focusing on existing genres that failed to win over people. “If we keep putting together four or five genres, we’re not going to get new players because people are already saying we’re not interested in your genres,” Layden said. “Don’t fool yourself into being someone who says ‘no’ Call of Duty in the last 15 years start suddenly saying ‘yes’ to Call of Duty.”

Layden has a rather harsh assessment of General industry approach to game preservation as well. Backwards compatibility applies to Xbox Series X/S and PS5, and Nintendo is flirting with it for the Switch 2, but there are still large libraries of games on older hardware, including consoles as recent as the PlayStation 3, that are difficult if not impossible to access on current platforms. Even PlayStation Plus, which added older PS1 and PSP classics to its subscription library last year, has been slow to add them.

“Preservation is important,” Layden said. “I hope that a lot of people in the industry, in fact the big players, start to realize that there is an obligation and a responsibility. These are not throwaway things that we make. These are things that should be around for a long time because future generations will be able to enjoy it the same way we have and it’s a crime we’re not doing more to protect it.”

While companies are happy to remaster old games or sell new anthologies like this week Metal Gear Solid Master Collection, there has never been a bigger combined campaign of publishers and console manufacturers to invest in keeping gaming history alive and available. As Layden points out, this rarely helps the bottom line. Culturally, however, it’s an important way for one generation of gamers to share their passion with the next. Besides, a medium unbroken from its past can have a hard time seeing where it’s going next.

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