It’s been nearly two years since former Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shawn Layden left the company, announced to the world with nothing more than a Twitter post. Fans have speculated the reason several times, but now the man himself has commented on it.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Layden explains that he was running low on the industry as a whole. “It’s an activity for young people. I felt: this is a good time to put the pin on my legacy.”
He goes on to explain that after helping to release big PS4 exclusives like Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War, he saw the opportunity as a chance to come out on top. “It seemed like a good time to come out on top and allow another generation to bring the PlayStation 5 to market.” The conversation then moves on to rumors of a power struggle between him and current Sony boss Jim Ryan, but Layden didn’t elaborate. “I think I took advantage of it when I thought it best to do it. And I couldn’t be happier.”
Layden also talked about the cost of developing games. Development “seems to double in cost across all platforms,” he said, noting that his budgets for recent big PlayStation 4 titles hit $100 million each. “If we can’t stop the cost curve from rising, all we can do is try to lower the risk. It puts you in a place where you are encouraged to follow the sequences.” He predicted that PS5 games will cost $200 million to produce and that prices will continue to grow exponentially thereafter.
The result of these higher budgets is an endless cavalcade of obsolete annual releases in ubiquitous series like Call of Duty and madden. At the same time, each company is chasing the latest trends of billions of dollars, of candy Crush The Fortnite and Roblox. “What happens there is you end up with 3-4 game silos or game types that continue to exist, and variety is squeezed out.”
Finally, not as part of the interview, but as a Twitter curiosity, interviewer Jason Schreier asked what happened to Deep Down, the Capcom exclusive announced early in the PS4’s life. Layden just replied after thinking for a second: “I have no idea”.
One thing I didn’t include in the newsletter — I asked what happened to the PS4 exclusive Deep Down (which was announced in 2013, then vanished). He had to think for a second, then responded: “I have no idea.” 🤷
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) September 3, 2021