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Former PlayStation COO Shawn Layden: 'Consolidation is the enemy of diversity'

Increasing game development costs are not sustainable in the long run

July 28, 2021 / 03:47 PM IST
The number of console users today is roughly the same as the late 1990's

The number of console users today is roughly the same as the late 1990's

Ex COO of Sony Network Entertainment International, Shawn Layden has said that increased costs of game development the industry is seeing now are not sustainable.

In an interview with, Layden points out that the number of people who own consoles today is roughly the same as in the late 1990s, around 240 to 260 million people. Those numbers aren't enough to justify the money spent on game development in the long run, especially with ballooning costs.

These low numbers have led to predatory practices like monetisation's, loot boxes and increasing costs of owning a game. Layden says that instead of looking to grow the number of people that own a console, companies have instead just gotten players to spend more money on games.

"With each console generation, the cost of games goes up 2x. So PS4 games were $100m to $150m, so it stands to reason that PS5 games -- when they hit their stride -- will be in excess of $200m," said Layden.

"It's going to be very difficult for more than a handful of large players to compete in that space," he added.


He also says that this will lead to more consolidation in the industry, with bigger companies gobbling up smaller ones resulting in a lack of creativity and diversity in the games they make.

This is especially true for Indie game studios who face tough challenges in the times ahead. They will need to constantly look for funding from big name publishers or bow down and be absorbed into the bigger companies.

"Right now, we are narrowing ourselves down into genres and sequels and certain types of games," says Layden. "Favorites like my own, like Parappa and Vib-Ribbon, those things don't seem to get a chance to come out on stage. That's bad for the industry and for fans."
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