There is a way to expand the games audience to support the rising costs of the biggest games, but Shawn Layden doesn't think Game Pass is it.
Shawn Layden, former head of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, has been particularly outspoken about the rising costs of AAA game development, previously saying that those games would need to be shorter, or the player base would need grow for this model to be sustainable going forward.
Layden, who recently took up a role in Streamline Media Group's advisory board, spoke to Gamesindustry.biz about a wide range of topics, including how he believes the games industry could widen its base and speak to more than the same group of 250 million players, which has yet to achieve the exponential growth necessary to sustain its rising costs of development.
One potential area to grow the userbase is game streaming, which Layden supports, even if he doesn't believe a compelling model has emerged there yet.
"People don't buy consoles because they want more steel and plastic in the living room. People buy consoles because they want access to the content," said Layden.
"If you can find a way to get the content into people's homes without a box, then yes, indeed. Everyone has a streaming solution of some form. Most of it is limited by whether you have a decent internet connection. And they haven't constructed the business model that works yet for that."
And what about the subscription model for video games? Layden doesn't buy that the massive AAA games, which cost in excess of $100 million, can be sustained by launching into services like Game Pass.
"It's very hard to launch a $120M game on a subscription service charging $9.99 a month," he claimed. "You pencil it out, you're going to have to have 500 million subscribers before you start to recoup your investment.
"That's why right now you need to take a loss-leading position to try to grow that base. But still, if you have only 250 million consoles out there, you're not going to get to half a billion subscribers. So how do you circle that square? Nobody has figured that out yet."
The way forward, according to Layden, is to diversify games so that it attracts new users outside the standard 250 million, and he believes Streamline Media Group has a proven model that can create those games.