Shawn Layden, one of the former execs in charge of the PlayStation family of consoles, said in a recent interview with Bloomberg that game budgets double with each generation and that the PS5 is in danger of exceeding $200 million.
The reason this is an issue, says Layden, is that it encourages stagnation since companies are “incentivized towards sequels” to lower risk. “What happens there is that you end up with 3-4 silos of games or game types that continue to exist, and variety is squeezed out,” worries Layden.
As interviewer Jason Schrier notes, the current triple-A games landscape is already playing out in exactly this way, with annualized sequels in franchises like Call of Duty and Madden papering the landscape. And as he also notes, Layden was one of the people at the helm while this trend was growing, though Layden isn’t forthcoming in claiming responsibility.
Instead, he’s attempting to be part of the cure with his new company, Streamline Media Group, at that starts with democratizing game development and holding the door open for everyone: “My goal in the last act of my career is really to bring more people into gaming creation, more people from all over the world, [and] bring more people into the enjoyment of gaming.”
Layden was the chairman of Worldwide Studios at PlayStation until he abruptly stepped down in 2019, and since then has been fairly quiet, though he occasionally chimes in on the state of the industry, like when he recently commented on the sustainability of Xbox’s Game Pass program.
Currently, Shawn Layden is on the advisory board of Streamline Media Group, a games services company. Meanwhile, PlayStation keeps chugging along, with a look at the future of the PS5 platform September 9.