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New Shawn Layden Game Informer interview (E3, new Breaking Bad PSVR experience, first party, crossplay, etc.)

DMVfan123

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
5,502
Virginia
#1
https://www.gameinformer.com/interview/2019/02/11/shawn-layden-on-playstation-and-the-future
Game Informer: Games are always changing. You guys have done an amazing job of innovating, and there was even a time when people were saying single-player games are dead, and you said, “That’s cute…”

Shawn Layden: Hold my beer.

Do you see multiplayer, games-as-service – things you have not done historically – do you think you need to open up Worldwide Studios to these types of games?

I think we have to do both. That’s not a cop-out. I think we have set the high-water mark for being the best in long-form narrative gaming. We have some of the best storytellers in the business working on Worldwide Studios projects, whether that’s Sucker Punch or the team at Bend working on Days Gone, and of course Naughty Dog and Santa Monica Studios. I think that’s a super strength of ours. I was very happy to see that five of the games of the year nominees are Worldwide Studios games.
I’m going there, because I felt that that has been a cultural thing, and I think that having cross-play – I know it’s in its beta at the moment with Rocket League and Fortnite – but that’s a big change for Sony as far as an attitude toward that community you’ve been pointing to.

The whole concept of cross-play, or the movement behind it, whatever you want to call it, really got big in our rear-view mirror super-fast. There’s something back there, and things are closer than they appear, and there it was. We were looking at it, “Fortnite? Rocket League? The biggest communities for those games are here,” and there were discussions about what are the implications of that. We like to manage our online communities as curated as possible. How do we ensure the same quality of experience if we let everyone come into the sandbox at the same time. And, again, the PlayStation community is so large it’s not like you couldn’t fill up a lobby if you wanted to fire up a game.

But I think we learned, from the feedback from our fans, that it was important. And it wasn’t just important to a vocal minority. Though, if you look at any of the numbers of the actual cross-play population? That Venn diagram isn’t too big. Even the fans who weren’t personally going to participate in a cross-play activity across different hardware pieces, just felt that it was kind of tone-deaf of PlayStation. We’ve tried to be so good certainly over the last four or five years to be in tune with our fans and to listen to what they want and try to be a friends of the gamer. We looked at that approach. This… this is just not friendly.
I’ve had so many arguments about this. Even when we had VR on our cover, I said, “This shows it’s viable, and it’s something you can do, but there are literal technological things that need to happen to get it to be as comfortable as you want it to be.” You have to invest and take those first steps that are going to be a more rickety chair rather than an Aeron.

We have to work through that, and that’s a whole learning curve, and we’re getting there, but VR starts getting exciting as well. When we brought Hollywood showrunners up here to give them the first look and see what VR could mean for linear programmed TV and film, almost to a person, when they took the headset off… well, it began with an expletive, but then they said something to the equivalent of, “This blows up narrative. How am I as a director… if you have agency in this experience, how do I get you to look at the right things at the right time?” I joked with them and said, “You have enjoyed the tyranny of the camera. You have to look at this! Make sure to get that reaction.” They said, “How are we going to know how to make them look here or there?” I said, “Lucky for you, there is a whole group of people who have learned to solve that problem.” “Who are they?” Game designers.

Game designers have been putting that invisible hand into so many games for so many years. All that time when you thought you had free will? "I am making all the choices myself!" Sure you are. "I’m going to go over there because I want to." Sure, because you want to.

I think there is an interesting confluence that is going to occur for even the film and television community coming to VR that I think games are going to be very helpful with. Right now we’re working on, with our cousins at Sony pictures, a Breaking Bad VR piece.
What lead you to the decision to back away from E3 in 2019?

We’ve been going to E3 since the beginning, which was... 1995, I believe was the first E3. Back in 1995, and PlayStation One was just out and there were Sega Saturns, there was some Nintendo stuff going on, I’m sure. It really was a trade show focusing on retailers and the media. No general admission, just people in the industry. Retailers would come up and say things like, “Hi, I’m from Sears and I’m the buyer. I’m in charge of Hot Wheels, Barbie, VHS, and video games. So what’s this PlayStation thing I am hearing about?” And there was a huge educational component, talking to retailers. Sharing what games were coming out and what products we had, all across the industry. Back then you had actual magazines that were printed on paper.

[Laughs] Oh, I know. Though, we definitely are the vinyl today.

There were longer lead times, obviously, you know your business.

I also remember standing in lines with that guy from Toys ‘R Us and he was like, “I do Barbie, and now we need to do video games.” That would be an interesting learning curve.

There was functionally no internet then. So, fast forward 22, 23 years. In our business, we conclude all of our major retail activities at an event we call Destination PlayStation which occurs in February. The media landscape has changed, which you know better than anybody, and with the internet being on 24-7, there is no silent periods where people aren’t getting game news.

There is not.

It’s happening all the time, so those constituencies have become sort of lesser impact at this event, and so you begin to wonder – and this is not necessarily new, this has been going on for some time – what is E3?

I would agree.

What does this show become? They’ve tried the last couple of years – ‘they’ being the ESA. I’m on the board so it’s me, too – brought in ‘prosumers’ or people who could get in on a very limited ticket program and you could see very quickly, there is no such thing as a hybrid trade show and consumer show. That’s just a car crash. Either your show is optimized around the consumer experience, à la Tokyo Game Show, à la Gamescom, or you’re a trade experience like CES or the Motor Show, or E3. The Motor Show I understand because cars are heavy and getting them all together in one place is a massive undertaking, but we’re gaming. We live in the ether. We’re digital. We’re everywhere at once. So what is the role of an event that occurs at, frankly, an arbitrary date in June? How does that work for all the stories you want to tell? This year, coming to 2019, I’ll be honest – we just didn’t have a new story to tell. And when Sony rings the bell for everyone to come ‘round, they have an expectation for something that is completely new and amazing. We looked at the lineup and we can probably only give fans a lot of updates on things they already know, so how does this work for us?

We’re doing fewer games at any given time than any time before in our history. Back in the day, when we were doing 15-20 games at a time; there was always a new game. Something was in a window that we could have that conversation about. But 2019, for us, that confluence just didn’t occur. So rather than raising fans’ expectations for them to think, “Oh what’s Sony going to be saying at E3?” We decided we would step away. To be fair, we weren’t the first company to do that. EA and Activision have stepped back, and Microsoft has scaled down. This has engendered a conversation in the halls of the ESA. What do we do? How do we transform E3 into a place of more relevance and now. You look at Comic Con crowds and you get desirous of that, or PAX East or PAX West, and the kind of energy that comes from those shows.

We can speak directly to our fans like never before, and they want to come and associate themselves with our activities as never before. We probably want to find a way to embrace that cohort because that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about direct to consumers. How am I telling my story? And what am I able to show them? So, I would like to see E3 turn into more of a festival of gaming. It’s not this company against that company and that company against this company. We’re not in our hideaways on our platforms, we’re just doorways into this room full of gamers. That’s my future hope for E3.

Why is the ESA reluctant to embrace the more fan-focused style of show?

It’s not really reluctant. As a collective, we don’t know what we don’t know and it is… is this Prince of Persia? If I jump, will the bridge be there? That’s what the ESA is right now. If we jump from the trade show thing to the consumer show… I do think the bridge will appear. We did PSX, we didn’t know what that was going to be like. We did it for the 25th anniversary of PlayStation, but we got lucky. If you build it, they will come. That’s the conversation we’re having in real time right now with the ESA. Just because PlayStation is not at E3 2019 doesn’t mean we won’t be there in 2020.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,219
#4
Hmm ok see ya next year maybe? Seems more likely by then.
I just want an update to ghosts of tsushima personally lol.
 
Oct 25, 2017
10,232
#6
It’s not really reluctant. As a collective, we don’t know what we don’t know and it is… is this Prince of Persia? If I jump, will the bridge be there? That’s what the ESA is right now. If we jump from the trade show thing to the consumer show… I do think the bridge will appear. We did PSX, we didn’t know what that was going to be like. We did it for the 25th anniversary of PlayStation, but we got lucky. If you build it, they will come. That’s the conversation we’re having in real time right now with the ESA. Just because PlayStation is not at E3 2019 doesn’t mean we won’t be there in 2020.
PS5 2020.
 
Oct 29, 2017
916
Brazil
#8
Seems more likely everyday now that E3 will make the jump to a public event. Shawn is right about that. The crowd will be there for whatever they decide to do.

And yeah, 2020 seems like it will be a huge year for Playstation. The conclusion of PS4 and its last few exclusives and the reveal of PS5 seems obvious at this point.
 
Oct 26, 2017
4,617
#10
This year, coming to 2019, I’ll be honest – we just didn’t have a new story to tell
uhhhh
that means in 2019 sony literally will have no conference of any kind, even psx?
that's super disappointing
 
Aug 23, 2018
111
#11
So see you at E3 2020 when you have is a new console to promote?

As we go into next gen, I think Cross Play will become much bigger than the “not too big Venn diagram” when the console populations reset back to zero. Especially if the Xbox Live on Switch rumors are true. Being able to login into XBL on any Device (steaming or otherwise) and easily matchmake with your friends seems like it would be good for gamers/consumers as a whole.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
3,265
#15
Another nice interview. They're doing everything they can to say, "PS5 is coming, we're not ready to talk about it, chill out." without actually saying it.
 
Oct 27, 2017
4,109
Miami, FL
#16
This piece on PS Now and PSVR was telling regarding where they're headed.

One of the terrible circumstances of our gaming industry is that every time we launch a new console technology, we sort of put the last generation to bed. That doesn’t occur in movies. That doesn’t occur in music, but it occurs all the time in games. But PS Now is a way where all of a sudden you can bring back to life an entire PS3 catalogue though your PS4, through the streaming technology. It’s kind of new, kind of different. You can see what that would suggest for the future, so I think that was a good experiment. Maybe we didn’t explain it enough to really illustrate why it should be important to you.

With some of our technology pieces, I think PSVR is a very exciting space for us to be. They talk about first mover advantage? I’m sure there is another word about first mover that doesn’t have the word advantage in it, but we are pioneers. We aren’t good followers. I think we’re better leaders. And with PSVR, what I like about it… there have been very few times in my career – and I have been working in technology since the late '80s – when you get to be part of a truly 1.0 experience. The problem is nowadays, people’s expectations and spans are so short. Now it’s, “Oh! PSVR, that’s great! When is it going to be this size?” I try to put into context for people and I say, “Remember that funny Nokia phone that had that ringtone that we all had back in the day? You can’t look at that Nokia phone and look at your smartphone and see how you got to there.” By the same token, you look at PSVR right now, none of us are going to be able to imagine what it will look like 10 years from now, but the change will be that dramatic. You can’t get to 5.0 until you do 1.0. It’s just the nature of the thing.
 
Jan 27, 2018
2,659
#18
This year, coming to 2019, I’ll be honest – we just didn’t have a new story to tell. And when Sony rings the bell for everyone to come ‘round, they have an expectation for something that is completely new and amazing. We looked at the lineup and we can probably only give fans a lot of updates on things they already know, so how does this work for us?
There it is, pack it up boys, nothing to see in 2019. Jokes aside, he said similar things in interviews before this one. It's looking like they are surely holding out for stuff to be in a presentable state instead of showing logo's for upcoming and new games. When he said he want's to communicate more and directly with the fans, I wonder if it will be deep dives by developers and progress updates on the already announced big titles. Like a direct style video dedicated to a single game similar to what Nintendo is doing.
 
Oct 28, 2017
2,540
Brazil
#19
Spent 12 hours giving an answer about the no show at E3 only to confirm they basically have nothing new to show and might come back next year (of course they will).
 
Oct 30, 2017
4,931
Denmark
#20
It’s not really reluctant. As a collective, we don’t know what we don’t know and it is… is this Prince of Persia? If I jump, will the bridge be there? That’s what the ESA is right now. If we jump from the trade show thing to the consumer show… I do think the bridge will appear. We did PSX, we didn’t know what that was going to be like. We did it for the 25th anniversary of PlayStation, but we got lucky. If you build it, they will come. That’s the conversation we’re having in real time right now with the ESA. Just because PlayStation is not at E3 2019 doesn’t mean we won’t be there in 2020.
I've thought so for a while. Shawn laying pressure on ESA to pick that lane he spoke of.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,257
#24
I like what he said about PSVR a lot, they're in it for the long haul and we're just at the beginning of VR. Man I can't wait to see what PSVR2 will bring to the table.

That PSNOW comment could be interpreted in a way, that it'll be their BC solution in the future.
If it's like on the One and you can pop in your disc and it'll download your game for free from PSNOW then I'm all in.
But if you'll need to subscribe to PSNOW to play any old PS1234 game, then I'm out and they'll need to brace themselves for a monumental Shitstorm.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,041
#25
So see you at E3 2020 when you have is a new console to promote?

As we go into next gen, I think Cross Play will become much bigger than the “not too big Venn diagram” when the console populations reset back to zero. Especially if the Xbox Live on Switch rumors are true. Being able to login into XBL on any Device (steaming or otherwise) and easily matchmake with your friends seems like it would be good for gamers/consumers as a whole.
Digital Libraries and Backwards Compatibility on both systems will create a lock-in effect. There won't be a large migration of users between platforms. That ship has sailed.
 
Aug 23, 2018
111
#26
Digital Libraries and Backwards Compatibility on both systems will create a lock-in effect. There won't be a large migration of users between platforms. That ship has sailed.

Assuming Sony’s idea of BC is the same as what MS has been doing. In this very interview Layden talks about how PS Now is a way to play entire catalogues of older games on your current console:

But PS Now is a way where all of a sudden you can bring back to life an entire PS3 catalogue though your PS4, through the streaming technology. It’s kind of new, kind of different. You can see what that would suggest for the future, so I think that was a good experiment. Maybe we didn’t explain it enough to really illustrate why it should be important to you.
What if Sony goes with a more robust and affordable PS Now as their answer to BC next gen? It would be a huge misstep, but we’ve seen bigger ones made by both companies at a new console launch.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,574
#27
I like what he said about PSVR a lot, they're in it for the long haul and we're just at the beginning of VR. Man I can't wait to see what PSVR2 will bring to the table.

That PSNOW comment could be interpreted in a way, that it'll be their BC solution in the future.
If it's like on the One and you can pop in your disc and it'll download your game for free from PSNOW then I'm all in.
But if you'll need to subscribe to PSNOW to play any old PS1234 game, then I'm out and they'll need to brace themselves for a monumental Shitstorm.
What if and here me out now...You don't own all the entire PS1234 catalog on disc? You don't think spending some money on games you don't have are worth it? even if some games in the catalog you do own?
 
Oct 28, 2017
622
#32
Assuming Sony’s idea of BC is the same as what MS has been doing. In this very interview Layden talks about how PS Now is a way to play entire catalogues of older games on your current console:



What if Sony goes with a more robust and affordable PS Now as their answer to BC next gen? It would be a huge misstep, but we’ve seen bigger ones made by both companies at a new console launch.
For PS3 yes. I honesty don't expect it to BC with PS5. PS4 BC is a given.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,257
#33
What if and here me out now...You don't own all the entire PS1234 catalog on disc? You don't think spending some money on games you don't have are worth it? even if some games in the catalog you do own?
Not sure if I follow you, yes obviously I don‘t own every game on disc, but I do own discs and digital games from every platform and I‘d rather play these games on the PS5 for free than pay a monthly fee. And yes, I do buy games I don‘t own on disc, like Ape Escape 2 or Final Fantasy IX, physical and digital BC would actually allow them to sell me more of these games in the future. Whereas a monthly paywall and no BC would turn me off instantly.

Edit: Just to be clear, I think PSNOW is a good thing, I don‘t mind alternatives, as long as it‘s not the only way to play old games on PS5.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
2,557
Switzerland
#34
I totally get the comments on E3 as a whole. It needs to change.

I think it's wise to also be upfront about not having anything to show yet, as developments for PS5 are being prepared.
 
Mar 15, 2018
111
Brasil
#36
Shawn Layden is live now at DICE Summit 2019.



Beyond Generations
Conference Opening Keynote

Shawn Layden
Chairman at Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios
Industry veteran Shawn Layden, Chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios, has participated in the evolution of the industry from a rare vantage point encompassing console development, in-house studios and third-party developers. In this presentation, Layden shares his perspective on various industry inflection points he’s experienced during his time with PlayStation and discusses current trends driving the gaming industry – providing context around our shared history to help think about what comes next.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,152
#37
Nice interview, Shawn seems like a smart man. He made some good points about E3 and how Sony doesn’t need a trade show to stay relevant in this day and age.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,574
#38
Edit: Just to be clear, I think PSNOW is a good thing, I don‘t mind alternatives, as long as it‘s not the only way to play old games on PS5.
Ok I get you. So if PS5 has PS4 BC but PS Now still remains with its entire PS12345 catalog will you be happy or bothered?
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,257
#39
Ok I get you. So if PS5 has PS4 BC but PS Now still remains with its entire PS12345 catalog will you be happy or bothered?
That's actually what I expect will happen, PS4 BC is a must, the older platforms would be a very pleasant surprise, but if they're only available on PSNOW then so be it, but I won't subscribe to it. My internet sucks (below 4mbit) and I'd rather own my games.