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

Oct 31, 2017
3,890
The days of PS3 era Sony releasing tons of weird, varied, and experimental exclusives are long gone
You're simply going from weird or experimental indie games to weird or experimental VR games.

Just hold off on saying that until after you play it.
I look forward to your lttp.
AAA isn't about quality; it's about budget.

A small team made Astro Bot. It received little in advertising. AAA games are heavily marketed and expensive.

Astro Bot is great. It's still not AAA.
 
Oct 29, 2017
381
Can't believe you guys are ignoring the fact that Sony always had a diversity of Ist Party games. From the PS1 era and to now they always had a diverse set of titles. I just hope they keep pushing that style like they always did.
 
Oct 26, 2017
6,737
This isn't true at all though? Are you telling me the viewing numbers for something like PSX or TGS are the same, or anywhere even near, E3 levels? Heck, Twitch itself broke it's all-time concurrent viewing record just this last E3.
You are comparing days of shows from nearly every big publisher to a single platform show, it's not comparable, you should compare PlayStation's E3 to PSX and I don't think there'd be much of a difference. like TLoU 2 wasn't hurt by being revealed at PSX.
Who is saying TGS is E3 tier either?
 
Oct 28, 2017
521
Yeah, I've been saying output has declined and they need to buy or expand resources. Nobody liked it.

Shaun knows what's what.

Insomniac, BluePoint and Kojima Productions should all be considered.
 
Oct 30, 2017
608
, no Ratchet was not AAA and neither was Knack (or Gravity Rush 2 for that matter).
Does that even matter? Ratchet and Clank plays great, has incredibly production quality behind it. I don't think there's another cartoonish styled game that has better visuals than it this generation. Similarly with Gravity Rush 2, It's got a fairly large world, decent length story, incredible destruction going on within the world, great mesh between tech and art direction DF even mentioned it as some of the best tech that year. Tearaway is a incredibly fun game with unique visuals and Dreams is one of the most ambitious looking title this generation huge in scope, incredible visuals. Both from the same developers as LBP. I'm not sure why AAA or not hurts the experience or lack of experience given the amount of polish, creativity and ambitions that went into these kinds of games.
 
Feb 12, 2018
695
You are comparing days of shows from nearly every big publisher to a single platform show, it's not comparable, you should compare PlayStation's E3 to PSX and I don't think there'd be much of a difference. like TLoU 2 wasn't hurt by being revealed at PSX.
Who is saying TGS is E3 tier either?
Did you see who I replied to? They were saying E3 itself doesn't do much and isn't needed. I disagree. During E3 time more people tune in to watch game related news, as is evident by the yearly increased viewership. Sony E3 2018 had 1.5 million people watching, roughly. I highly doubt PSX 2017 had anywhere near those numbers.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,081
Midwest
You're simply going from weird or experimental indie games to weird or experimental VR games.



AAA isn't about quality; it's about budget.

A small team made Astro Bot. It received little in advertising. AAA games are heavily marketed and expensive.

Astro Bot is great. It's still not AAA.
But I'd argue it's the notion or mindset that budget translates into a better quality (it doesn't) and that's what I'm talking about. Why else would anyone ask for a higher budget or something fall into the AAA category? For something to be of higher quality. I said hold off on asking for that until after he played the game to see it doesn't need said budget.

I know what AAA means lol.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,603
This isn't true at all though? Are you telling me the viewing numbers for something like PSX or TGS are the same, or anywhere even near, E3 levels? Heck, Twitch itself broke it's all-time concurrent viewing record just this last E3.
Over all viewing numbers don't matter to Sony .
What matter to Sony is there own numbers .
You can put up a TLOU2 or any big AAA trailer at any time and it will get millions of views .
You can do your own event and have all eyes and press talking about you and it won't be less than E3.
In the long term E3 does not have a big effect on much .
 
Oct 31, 2017
3,890
But I'd argue it's the notion or mindset that budget translates into a better quality (it doesn't) and that's what I'm talking about. Why else would anyone ask for a higher budget or something fall into the AAA category? For something to be of higher quality. I said hold off on asking for that until after he played the game to see it doesn't need said budget.

I know what AAA means lol.
Gotcha.

I think it's because the experience would change. For example, I'm not looking for an indie game like Horizon Zero Dawn or God of War or Uncharted 4 because it wouldn't work the same at all in terms of scope. A platformer that's AAA might be a grander experience, like a current-gen Mario 64 with loads of levels, secrets, and tons of hours of playtime.

Astro Bot is a great platformer and is a different kind of experience than a 3D Mario overall. I'm glad it exists and I'm 100% down for a sequel. But I get wanting a AAA platformer because how the game evolves and what it delivers will likely be a different experience to something like Crash Bandicoot or Astro Bot.
 
Oct 26, 2017
6,737
Did you see who I replied to? They were saying E3 itself doesn't do much and isn't needed. I disagree. During E3 time more people tune in to watch game related news, as is evident by the yearly increased viewership. Sony E3 2018 had 1.5 million people watching, roughly. I highly doubt PSX 2017 had anywhere near those numbers.
It increases largely because it's pretty much the only time we get a bunch of announcements anymore, not because it's E3, but because of the content, which doesn't need E3 and I'd much prefer if we didn't have to wait for E3 every year.
Live viewers mean pretty much fuck all either when 90% of the total viewers just watch the trailers on YouTube in the next days.
 
Oct 25, 2017
8,460
Considering the large amount of money they must have invested on Death Stranding, getting even closer to Kojima Productions should be a top priority in the line of acquisitions, partnerships, etc. Besides that, I'd echo the sentiment on Bluepoint, but again, what's the point when they're already working exclusively for the system? You don't need to incorporate them, in order to reach a deal for a big internal development.

We tend to fixate on known names and I think perhaps it's the other way around, buying less-known but equally talented companies, as it happened with MM.
Yeah that’s one they should do. With the big backing of Death Stranding/helping bring Kojima’s studio back they should definitely go the rest of the way and lock in KojiPro given their long and important history together and especially also to be able to continue the current technology sharing between his studio and Guerilla long term. As that greatly benefits them both going forward and is such a rare opportunity.

It’s true that Bluepoint seems like a good smaller dev choice too since they’ve clearly fit together extremely well for a long time now that they keep getting back together and the trust gained through the AAA level SotC remake.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,081
Midwest
Gotcha.

I think it's because the experience would change. For example, I'm not looking for an indie game like Horizon Zero Dawn or God of War or Uncharted 4 because it wouldn't work the same at all in terms of scope. A platformer that's AAA might be a grander experience, like a current-gen Mario 64 with loads of levels, secrets, and tons of hours of playtime.

Astro Bot is a great platformer and is a different kind of experience than a 3D Mario overall. I'm glad it exists and I'm 100% down for a sequel. But I get wanting a AAA platformer because how the game evolves and what it delivers will likely be a different experience to something like Crash Bandicoot or Astro Bot.
Yea, I feel that and would also love that. But the stars would have to be aligned for it to happen.
 

THE GUY

Banned
Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,223
Glad they're interested in acquiring new studios if the right opportunity presents itself. Although I'd be happy with them expanding their current studios too.

I've been saying for a while that they need a few more to make the balance perfect. We saw with the PS4 that the first couple years were a little rough from a first party point of view and that was largely because quality games take time. You can't rush them. And if it wasn't for the FromSoftware partnership, there wouldn't have been a great exclusive game until the third year (Uncharted 4). Any AAA game is likely going to be a 4 year endeavor, and possibly longer if you're talking a new IP, which you obviously need at times since you can't keep on making sequels forever. However, there's also a need to support the console throughout the generation. That naturally means, a studio that releases a game late generation isn't going to be able to suddenly show up early in the next generation. They will need time. And the same with those who need to support the console early in the generation. They will need to start moving to the next generation sooner, and therefore will not be able to support the current console towards the end.

This naturally means you need more teams or studios developing games in order to hit the right balance, especially because partners aren't always going to be there to help develop titles for you. If you want 3-4 AAA quality games a year from Sony first party, along with a few others to simply round it out, they'll probably need another 3-4 teams since you need to account for delays and other potential issues too. I feel like they're in a much better position than the others in providing that level of support, but the increasing demands of the current and incoming generation simply means you need more resource.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,831
QLD, Australia
Aside from the non-hint about acquisitions, there’s nothing really new here.

E3 had already been discussed with the same answers - nothing to show and not happy with the current place the event is in deciding if it’s a trade or consumer show.

‘First, best or must’ was discussed extensively when Layden started talking about it at the end of last year.

This interview is really just a ‘compilation’ of already known talking points, with a baity headline.
 

Iwao

Banned
Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,548
regarding acquisitions the only 2 fairly large studios i can see sony looking into buying are bluepoint and kojima productions.
maybe supermassive.
Bluepoint looks to be expanding in a big way and have a decorated history with Sony. They make perfect sense.

They don't need to buy KojiPro given that Kojima chose to work with Sony, was treated like royalty, his brave new direction is being supported with the best of Sony's first-party heft, and he's a bit of a PlayStation fanboy so he wouldn't see the need to go anywhere else if the Sony production pipeline is letting him flex his creative muscle as hard and expensively as possible. Death Stranding looks to be the next big IP for the industry anyway and is owned by Sony.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,629
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.
What was that line about the PS4, "Don't read too much into it"? :D
And it’s only get worse as the new consoles get closer. How about this pre PS4 launch scaremongering from Adam Sessler and Marcus Beer.

https://www.mandatory.com/culture/5...reak-out-is-indicative-of-a-rushed-ps4-launch
 
Oct 31, 2017
2,428
He also hinted that Sony's ready to buy up other game makers as it looks to expand the types of games it makes.
Sony is in a healthy enough position right now that I think they should go for it, and I think they should go for it by acquiring a big publisher in the 10 figure USD or equivalent in JPY or EUR.
 
Oct 29, 2017
1,195
Sony is in a healthy enough position right now that I think they should go for it, and I think they should go for it by acquiring a big publisher in the 10 figure USD or equivalent in JPY or EUR.
Saw someone in one of these threads today suggest (jokingly or not) that they should try to buy Capcom. Wonder both how much that would cost and what sort of disruption that would be to the industry.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,964
"Fewer and bigger" is the last thing I want out of Sony.

I want more Gravity Rush, not less of it.
His GI interview puts that comment into better context

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.
He's talking about the entire history of Sony's studios. There was a time where they had 15-20 games in development at a time because you could get a big game out in a year or so. That's just not possible anymore. It takes longer than ever to make games now and with more developers than ever, and as a result you also have fewer games in development than in the PSone or PS2 days. Back in the PSone days ND literally released a new game every single year. Crash 1-Team Racing released from 96-99. Even a game like Gravity Rush took that team around four years to develop. So the weird games are still going to be there. Even the smaller games games will be there. It's just that now they take longer and more resources to develop.
 
Mar 4, 2018
1,467
Saw someone in one of these threads today suggest (jokingly or not) that they should try to buy Capcom. Wonder both how much that would cost and what sort of disruption that would be to the industry.
Thats funny but not as funny as those rumors of MS buying EA.
 
Oct 31, 2017
2,428
Saw someone in one of these threads today suggest (jokingly or not) that they should try to buy Capcom. Wonder both how much that would cost and what sort of disruption that would be to the industry.
I'm not and didn't suggest Capcom, but 9697 (Capcom) current market cap is 304,755B Y. You can add a good 30%+ premium on top of that, so roughly around 400,000B Y or 3.7B dollars.

Buying a publisher is never really a good idea. So many unneeded positions, lot of layoffs on top of a ridiculous price.
It's a good idea for shareholders if the purchase can lead to growth and synergy for the acquiring company.
 
Oct 26, 2017
6,737
It's a good idea for shareholders if the purchase can lead to growth and synergy for the acquiring company.
There's much cheaper ways, that doesn't open you up to a lot of potential lawsuits due to massive layoffs and a massive pay out.
If a Publishers shits the bed and they just pick up the corpse it could make a lot of sense, but I don't think there's really anyone in that state that'd be major buy tier.
 
Oct 31, 2017
2,428
There's much cheaper ways, that doesn't open you up to a lot of potential lawsuits due to massive layoffs and a massive pay out.
If a Publishers shits the bed and they just pick up the corpse it could make a lot of sense, but I don't think there's really anyone in that state that'd be major buy tier.
Let's agree to disagree on this one.
 
Oct 30, 2017
3,012
Man, doesn't really sound like Sony is taking a year off at e3, but more like they won't come back till they feel the show is more relevant/modern.

Good piece.
 
OP
OP
gofreak
Oct 26, 2017
1,169
I think the GameInformer article adds a bit of colour to some of the topics raised in this interview.

On E3, for example:

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 also think his comments on 'service games' are interesting taken in concert with his CNET comments:

As far as games-as-service and esports, or recurring revenue models or whatever – if we can do something interesting and meaningful in those areas, we’ll do it. If we were going to partner with another team in some capacity to deliver, again, something interesting and meaningful, we’ll be there and we’ll do it. It’s not that we’re not interested in those areas, it’s just an area we haven’t historically performed very well. If I were Peter Guber, no sooner would I go to the Golden State Warriors and say, "So you guys have won a lot of world championships, but can you play baseball? Sport is sports, right!“ But if there are new teams that have something we can associate with, then certainly. We want to push the boundaries in all the different areas of gaming. It’s important for us to do that.
Add that to his unprompted comment in the CNET interview:

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.
To take the 'team' analogy, I think he sees Sony as now having best-in-breed teams for 'long-form narrative gaming', immersive story driven games. And I think he now has an eye out for additional teams - be it partners or acquisitions - that can be best in breed at other types of games 'gaas, service games' etc. That's the vibe I'm getting - I expect the next 'second-party' partnerships and/or acquisitions will be for games in the 'GaaS'/service area, of types other than what they currently are already super strong at.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,295
Helsinki, Finland
Why don't you try reading the thread before you respond to early posts, you may find an answer.
Well...

You didn't seem very against 3rd party acquisitions when Microsoft did it.
EDIT:
The thought of MS buying them, you seem fine with MS acquiring 3rd parties, but not Sony. Weird.
History has shown us MS has worked to creatively bankrupt studios (forcing them to make 1 i. p etc forever), not sure why your opinion sounds more optimistic when it involves ms.
How come you are so against large publishers buying third party devs all of a sudden? Also, Bluepoint has a history of working with Sony so it wouldn't be something completely out of left field... Their last two games were Sony exclusives that were Remastered.
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,964
Wait......... what’s this Destination PlayStation event?

Is that purely for Pubs or Retailers?
It's specifically for retailers. But they have a bunch of publishers come out to show off their games to retailers. Back in 2014 info for the new CoD (Advanced Warfare) leaked out from there. And Rockstar was planned to be there that year but pulled out at the last second, attendees then said to expect an E3 announcement from them. And sure enough we got GTAV current-gen from them announced during Sony's conference. So, Sony has plugged the holes pretty well since then and not much has leaked out. It's a pretty airtight with the most you can hope for is that some retailer attending drops some meat. But even that is unlikely.