Shawn Layden, former head of Sony PlayStation, was the protagonist of an interesting interview with GamesIndustry on the current state of the gaming industry, also proposing his own alternative vision to ensure greater sustainability to projects, such as the fact of creating Triple A shorter games to keep costs down.
Layden reported as i production costs for triple A games have increased enormously in this last generation and also in the previous one, remembering how it has gone from maximum budgets from a million dollars to costs that now normally reach between 80 and 150 million dollars just for what it concerns production and development, excluding marketing costs.
This also involves an elongation of the development time which reach five years, in addition to the other distortions typical of the video game industry such as grueling shifts and crunching. It’s not a healthy situation and needs some sort of reset, according to Layden.
“I don’t think we can take these numbers again in the next generation multiply them further for two thinking they can grow this way, “said Layden.” I think industry in general should stop for a moment and think about how to develop, wondering what we are building? What are the expectations of the public? What is the best way to complete our story and say what we want to say? ”
A solution, according to Layden, could be reduce content from a quantitative point of view: “It is difficult to reach 50 or 60 hours as a goal for each adventure, because in this way the game becomes much more expensive. Furthermore, if this is to be a basic element, it also risks closing out the possibility of market access for interesting authors and stories that do not reach this scale, we must re-evaluate this aspect “.
According to Layden, in short, we could go back to triple A games that last less, maybe up to 12 or 15 hours: This would not only prevent a progressive and insane increase in production costs and developer efforts over long spans, but could also open up to greater variety of different game experiences and stories, which can be better told and staged in a more contained time frame.
Shawn Layden left Sony in October 2019 and some have been chased out of confusion in managing the generational transition or internal wars with other managers, but in any case he seems to have maintained a certain lucidity in the overall vision of the gaming industry.