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Shawn Layden interview - on Sony's first party development, streaming, E3, acquisitions and more

Oct 26, 2017
1,765
#1
So Shawn Layden is doing the DICE keynote this year (tomorrow), and CNET has an interview with him before the conference.

https://www.cnet.com/news/sonys-shawn-layden-wants-fewer-bigger-playstation-games/

Speaking from his office in San Mateo, California, just up the road from other massive game makers like Nintendo and Electronic Arts, Layden didn't discuss the new device [PS5]. But he did say new technologies that could replace home consoles, like game streaming technology similar to Netflix, are still years away from mass adoption.

He also hinted that Sony's ready to buy up other game makers as it looks to expand the types of games it makes.
With games like Fortnite: Battle Royale becoming so popular, how do you decide what types of games to make? Whether it's creating a direct competitor me-too type game or something different?
I don't want to get into me-too, it seems like I think the world's got all the battle royale it needs right now.

I think we've done a lot over the last three or four years to get us to a place right now where we're building fewer games per year than ever before, but we're spending more time, more energy, certainly more money, on making them.

So we're striking on all the beats that we want to, and we're getting both critical and commercial acclaim. Let's see now what we might add to our arsenal. I've looked at some opportunities in the past, it's an opportunity to look for the ones that are the best cultural fit.
How do you decide what game makers you'll buy?
We're always exploring opportunities. If we found a partner or a team or a game that we felt was particularly meaningful and interesting in a service area, we will look to bring that in. We're always open to that kind of experience.

We try to make it really easy for our teams to focus on what our vision is for the future. And we have simplified it to "first, best or must."

If your title is going to be "first" and creating a genre, or "first" and creating a new game activity, let's look at that. If you're going to make an action adventure game, It better be "best" in class. And we have the third category called "must," which is we must support the platform, we must be present when new technology comes out.
And delivered over not-the-internet still as well? The first thing I think about when people talk about even downloadable games is the military -- there isn't always good internet to download games in war zones. They need something you can bring to them in a postage box. But that's challenging. When you were developing the PS4, there was talk about making it downloadable only, but you decided to stick to the disk partially because of these reasons.

I don't know what the timeline is. If the PlayStation continues to grow at this rate, we can leave no gamer behind. But streaming is something that PlayStation is active in and we want to make sure we keep current in that technology.
More at the link about the reasoning of pulling out of E3, streaming, etc: https://www.cnet.com/news/sonys-shawn-layden-wants-fewer-bigger-playstation-games/
 
Mar 4, 2018
1,692
#4
Good interview but terrible article outside of that. Sony did very well during the holidays but they’re pushing the struggling narrative because it wasn’t their best year ever. Lol
 

CosmicSea

Alt account
Member
Feb 5, 2019
502
#5
Good interview but terrible article outside of that. Sony did very well during the holidays but they’re pushing the struggling narrative because it wasn’t their best year ever. Lol
Seems to be a weird Narrative going around that Sony is somehow stumbling and setting themselves up for failure in the US media... No idea why. Sony's momentum is as strong as ever going into next gen.
 
Jan 27, 2018
2,366
#6
So what happens to big announcements? Do they just happen on YouTube? What does this perfect Shawn Layden future look like?
In a perfect Shawn Layden future, I'm living in Tahiti.
Oh give me a break Layden.
 
Oct 26, 2017
5,539
#8
I dont know why but that quote about "best cultural fit" and "I've looked at some opportunities in the past" makes me think he is hinting at Insomniac Games negotiations
 
Oct 28, 2017
96
#10
I love that he straight up admits that part of the problem with attending E3 is that everyone gets disappointed if they dont drop megatons.

Its not enough to just show cool games anymore.
 
Feb 10, 2018
10,081
#13
"How do you decide what game makers you'll buy?
We're always exploring opportunities. If we found a partner or a team or a game that we felt was particularly meaningful and interesting in a service area, we will look to bring that in. We're always open to that kind of experience."

This does state that they intend to buy more studios, more like if they see something good, they may buy it, which is different to having the intention to buy.
 
Mar 4, 2018
1,692
#16
Seems to be a weird Narrative going around that Sony is somehow stumbling and setting themselves up for failure in the US media... No idea why. Sony's momentum is as strong as ever going into next gen.
US media did the same with the PS4, nothing new. Also the writer seems to suggest they are ready to buy up new studios but his response doesn’t indicate anything like that, just a hypothetical answer.
 
Oct 27, 2017
277
#17
while i understand not having a conference if you have nothing to show since fans always expect big huge megatons. I still think its stupid to not have a presence on the floor.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,160
#19
Don’t start chasing trends again Sony. There’s a graveyard full of Smash, Mario Kart, Halo killers and more out there you populated with corpses.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,671
Vienna
#20
I dont know why but that quote about "best cultural fit" and "I've looked at some opportunities in the past" makes me think he is hinting at Insomniac Games negotiations
Will not happen because Insomniac would say no.

They want to be independent and after Spider Man, their financial situation should be very good.
 
Oct 8, 2018
2,344
#23
And with our decision to do fewer games -- bigger games -- over longer periods of time, we got to a point where June of 2019 was not a time for us to have a new thing to say. And we feel like if we ring the bell and people show up here in force, people have expectation "Oh, they're going to tell us something."
then yea, seems like no major event until after june 2019.
bummer....
 
Oct 27, 2017
8,483
UK
#24
And with our decision to do fewer games -- bigger games -- over longer periods of time, we got to a point where June of 2019 was not a time for us to have a new thing to say.
Fewer but bigger games is not what I wanted to hear, but I do understand their need to differentiate and play to their strengths.

I just hope that means we will still get games like Bound and Concrete Genie and they don't only focus on the big AAA stuff in future.
 
Dec 22, 2018
1,397
#26
I wonder who Sony would buy?

It won't be Insomniac, never going to happen.

But I could see the guys who make Sly.

Sanzaru
 
Mar 4, 2018
1,692
#29
Fewer but bigger games is not what I wanted to hear, but I do understand their need to differentiate and play to their strengths.

I just hope that means we will still get stuff like Bound and Concrete Genie and they don't only focus on the big AAA stuff in future.
He’s talking about compared to PS1/2 days. Maybe even 3 but it has been true this whole gen that less big games are made in general.
 
OP
OP
gofreak
Oct 26, 2017
1,765
#33
"How do you decide what game makers you'll buy?
We're always exploring opportunities. If we found a partner or a team or a game that we felt was particularly meaningful and interesting in a service area, we will look to bring that in. We're always open to that kind of experience."

This does state that they intend to buy more studios, more like if they see something good, they may buy it, which is different to having the intention to buy.
True, but I think it could be correctly classed as a 'hint' - like the author suggests - since he seems to bring up the topic of acquisition unprompted in the answer to the prior question. ("Let's see now what we might add to our arsenal. I've looked at some opportunities in the past, it's an opportunity to look for the ones that are the best cultural fit. ")

What I think is interesting is that in that context the suggestion seems to be that they're pretty happy with what they've got, and if they were going to bring something in, it might be something different to what they already have. 'In a service area' could mean many things... it's nebulous, it could refer to technology acquisitions more than game maker acquisitions, but in a latter context, maybe it means a different type of game than what they usually make. I think Media Molecule is maybe their only studio to date that makes more 'service-y'/'games-as-a-platform' type stuff.
 
Feb 10, 2018
10,081
#35
True, but I think it can be correctly classed as a 'hint' - like the author suggests - since he seems to bring up the topic of acquisition unprompted in the answer to the prior question.

What I think is interesting is that in that context the suggestion seems to be that they're pretty happy with what they've got, and if they were going to bring something in, it might be something different to what they already have. 'In a service area' could mean many things... it's nebulous, it could refer to technology acquisitions more than game maker acquisitions, but in a latter context, maybe it means a different type of game than what they usually make. I think Media Molecule is maybe their only studio to date that makes more 'service-y'/'games-as-a-platform' type stuff.
Not really, seems like the usual PR spiel.

Anyway Sony don't need more devs, ppl are only pushing that Sony need to buy because MS have recently brought some.
 
Oct 31, 2017
4,278
#38
Fewer but bigger games is not what I wanted to hear, but I do understand their need to differentiate and play to their strengths.

I just hope that means we will still get games like Bound and Concrete Genie and they don't only focus on the big AAA stuff in future.
Considering how much he loves Astro Bot, I'm sure smaller games are always in the pipeline. Pixelopus seems created just for that, too, with Sony Japan's projects being smaller in terms of budget.

I think he means, as far as their big games, there are probably fewer. At the same time, God of War PS4 contains way more content, and is a much better game, than 3 and Ascension, so it evens out with content outdoing number of games.
 
Jul 14, 2018
4,010
#40
Ewww
Don't know why anyone would hope a 3rd party be brought.
There are other great franchises and original I. P blueprint could do.
With MS buying Obsidian, Pandora's Box has already been opened. I wouldn't be surprised if they bought them and Insomniac (although this one is much less probable).
 
Oct 27, 2017
8,483
UK
#40
He’s talking about compared to PS1/2 days. Maybe even 3 but it has been true this whole gen that less big games are made in general.
But I'd argue that Sony has bucked that trend this generation though, from Wipeout Omega to Shadow of the Colossus Remake to Matterfall to Bound to Ratchet to Everybody's Golf to Gravity Rush 2 to the PlayLink stuff. Sure they had the big mega-budget AAA stuff, but they've had plenty of medium-budget stuff along the way too.

This latest comment makes it sound like a more recent decision to put resource in to fewer, bigger games.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,027
#41
The "fewer but bigger games" strategy is respectable but also very risky. And I don't think this strategy implies any studio acquisition, unlike the writer suggest. Layden is leaving the door open but if anything this ITW reinforce the idea that Sony will not acquire any studio the foreseable future.

And the E3 comment was unfortunately even more embarrassing than expected.

And with our decision to do fewer games -- bigger games -- over longer periods of time, we got to a point where June of 2019 was not a time for us to have a new thing to say. And we feel like if we ring the bell and people show up here in force, people have expectation "Oh, they're going to tell us something."

We are progressing the conversation about, how do we transform E3 to be more relevant? Can E3 transition more into a fan festival of gaming, where we don't gather there to drop the new bomb? Can't it just be a celebration of games and have panels where we bring game developers closer to fans?
So the deal is "we are unable to provide a decent show this year, so it would be nice if the E3 could change for everyone and not being about big games and announcements anymore, you know. Just a little fanfest to chill, so no one see that our pockets are empty compared to others."

Give me a fucking break. I'm all for PlayStation games but at this point I can only hope for Microsoft to make a gigantic E3 just to provoke some reaction. It's like Sony lost all its sense of competition.
 
Oct 8, 2018
2,344
#42
regarding acquisitions the only 2 fairly large studios i can see sony looking into buying are bluepoint and kojima productions.
maybe supermassive.
 
Oct 31, 2017
953
#44
The world has changed, but E3 hasn't necessarily changed with it.
And with our decision to do fewer games -- bigger games -- over longer periods of time, we got to a point where June of 2019 was not a time for us to have a new thing to say. And we feel like if we ring the bell and people show up here in force, people have expectation "Oh, they're going to tell us something."
We are progressing the conversation about, how do we transform E3 to be more relevant? Can E3 transition more into a fan festival of gaming, where we don't gather there to drop the new bomb? Can't it just be a celebration of games and have panels where we bring game developers closer to fans?
E3 really needs to change, I agree.
 
Oct 27, 2017
8,483
UK
#45
we got to a point where June of 2019 was not a time for us to have a new thing to say. And we feel like if we ring the bell and people show up here in force, people have expectation "Oh, they're going to tell us something."

We are progressing the conversation about, how do we transform E3 to be more relevant? Can E3 transition more into a fan festival of gaming, where we don't gather there to drop the new bomb? Can't it just be a celebration of games and have panels where we bring game developers closer to fans?
On this basis, I think we can write off the idea that they're having a separate event with announcements in the middle of the year. Still hope for PSX in November though.

Regardless, I think Sony has quickly forgotten the impact their own press conferences had on this generation. The disc-sharing skit and the live audience reaction went viral and Xbox One has had to live with that 6 years down the line.
 
Sep 11, 2018
2,051
#46
Shawn is great at what he does, brought us great games under his belt, it’s clear that they focus on quality over quantity over there at PlayStation.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,194
#47
Yeah it's a joke. Playstation is in the best position they have ever been.
You can say that again.. their articles are so doom and gloom, you'd think Sony had 30 million units sold and MS had 92 million sold to customers. Mind blowing conclusions to reach by US media.
I would honestly say.. there is a clear bias with their writing.. and Im not sure why it is.

Sony may be the market leader in console sales.. but their wealth is dwarfed by MS, the world's most valuable company. Ridiculous to think they want to "root for the underdog" or something , when Sony is still the underdog going into next gen.
 
Mar 4, 2018
1,692
#50
But I'd argue that Sony has bucked that trend this generation though, from Wipeout Omega to Shadow of the Colossus Remake to Matterfall to Bound to Ratchet to Everybody's Golf to Gravity Rush 2 to the PlayLink stuff. Sure they had the big mega-budget AAA stuff, but they've had plenty of medium-budget stuff along the way too.

This latest comment makes it sound like a more recent decision to put resource in to fewer, bigger games.
Not to me, to me it just sounds like they aren’t going to rush big games out to meet a deadline and that’s exactly what they’ve done since a few years after PS4 came out. They learned their lesson with PS3/DriveClub about bringing games out before they were ready.

Didn’t seem to hint at anything AA related to me so I’m sure that will remain just how it is now and I agree they’ve done an excellent job filling gaps with those smaller games.

The "fewer but bigger games" strategy is respectable but also very risky. And I don't think this strategy implies any studio acquisition, unlike the writer suggest. Layden is leaving the door open but if anything this ITW reinforce the idea that Sony will not acquire any studio the foreseable future.

And the E3 comment was unfortunately even more embarrassing than expected.



So the deal is "we are unable to provide a decent show this year, so it would be nice if the E3 could change for everyone and not being about big games and announcements anymore, you know. Just a little fanfest to chill, so no one see that our pockets are empty compared to others."

Give me a fucking break. I'm all for PlayStation games but at this point I can only hope for Microsoft to make a gigantic E3 just to provoke some reaction. It's like Sony lost all its sense of competition.
But MS’s E3s have been terrible for the past several years. Most of what they show are timed exclusives.