Shawn Layden, former head of SIE, has spoken to Bloomberg about the “future of gaming”.
In the interview, Layden noted how,
“[Game development] seems to double in cost [with] every platform”.
Whilst still at the helm at Sony, Layden’s projects routinely hit $100 million.
This is a number that Layden predicts will only grow exponentially from there.
Furthermore, Layden added how,
“If we can’t stop the cost curve from going up, all we can do is try to de-risk it. That puts you in a place where you’re incentivised towards sequels”.
Layden went on to note how the increased cost in development has lead to the stale annual releases (of games such as Call of Duty and Madden, etc). All of these titles are, with some tweaks/changes here and there, copy and pasted from the previous year’s entries.
The Unsustainable and Unattainable Dream
Furthermore, every publisher is also trying to chase that latest billion-dollar trend; hence why we see dozens (if not, hundreds) of Candy Crush, Fortnite/Battle Royale, and Roblox/Minecraft clones;
“What happens there is you end up with three to four silos of games or game types that continue to exist, and variety is squeezed out”.
Layden noted how he was instrumental in the industry’s obsession with larger, open-worlds and “beautiful graphics”. The result is that every game will look glorious. However, ultimately, they will probably be more or less the same as every other game.
“I think I contributed a part into showing the world what amazing gameplay can look like”, Layden said.
Its an interesting take from Layden, who sees himself partially responsible for the trend the industry has taken in recent years. Of course, Layden helped issue in a period of gaming unlike any other, with games the calibre of The Last of Us and God of War coming whilst under his rule.
Time will tell if (or when) Layden’s predictions come true.
The other side to this conversation is how it will affect gamers going forward. We have already seen game prices increase over the years, with the proposed $70 being, almost, an expected outcome. It, therefore, doesn’t (or at least, shouldn’t) be outside the realms of possibility to think that, one day, $100 for a game may be the end result.
And then, obviously, the extras on top of that.