Shawn Layden, a gaming consultant and former boss of PlayStation Studios, expressed his opinion about the problems of the gaming industry. He fears that consolidation could lead to stagnation of the industry. Leyden also doubts the effectiveness of the Xbox Game Pass model and believes that gaming is on the threshold of a new era.Sean Layden

An interview with Sean Leyden appeared on the GamesIndustry portal.

biz July 27. The publication spoke with a veteran of the gaming industry on the background of his appointment to Streamline Media Group as an adviser on business development and gaming direction.

Leiden worked at Sony for 34 years until he left the company in 2019. During this time, he has changed many positions, including CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America and chairman of PlayStation Worldwide Studios. He had a hand in launching several generations of consoles — up to the PlayStation 4.

On July 27, Leiden joined the Streamline Media Group consulting team. It will help the company, which initially specialized in outsourcing, to enter the US market and launch games using its own IP.

Below are the key points from Leiden’s interview.

About subscription services and cloud gamingNow the audience of console games has about 250 million people.

Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, is convinced that services like Xbox Game Pass or xCloud will help significantly increase this number. However, Leyden does not agree with him.

According to him, people buy consoles for the sake of content. Cloud gaming can partially solve the problem and even save users from having to purchase hardware for games. However, so far there is simply no necessary infrastructure for this.

Leiden also doubts the effectiveness of the subscription services model for games. To use them, people still need consoles or other devices. According to him, it looks like a vicious circle.

“It’s difficult to release a game with a budget of $120 million in a subscription service, charging the user $9.99 per month. Take a pencil and calculate: you will need 500 million subscribers before you start to recoup your investments. You will have to lose money to become a leader. But even so, there are only 250 million consoles in the world, and you will not be able to increase the number of subscribers to half a billion in any way. No one has yet found a solution to this problem,” Leiden notes.

About consolidation and growing competitionLeiden notes that with each new generation of consoles, development budgets are doubling.

If the production of games for PS4 cost $ 100-150 million, then in the heyday of the PS5 this figure will exceed $ 200 million.

Not every company will be able to compete in such an environment and pay for the development of AAA titles. This is partly why the market is now undergoing massive consolidation, in which Leiden sees many negative sides.

“Consolidation is, in a sense, the enemy of diversity. Because of this, many players disappear from the market, which unite into large conglomerates. I’m afraid that over time this will lead to the death of the industry and create the same, devoid of diversity world,” he explains.

According to Leiden, companies today are forced to produce endless safe sequels and games of only certain genres. Because of this, there is no place for experimental titles on the market.

“It hurts both the industry and the fans. If we continue to make games for the same people and tell the same stories, we will see the collapse of the gaming industry,” Leiden believes.

According to him, “a revolution has matured in the industry.” The sooner companies understand this and find a solution to the existing problems, the better it will be for the whole sphere.

About the end of the second era of gamingLeiden notes that the end of the second era of gaming is now coming.

It lasted for the last 25-30 years and made the main bet on consoles.

According to him, in the future, the leaders will be those companies that will set the direction of development for the new era. Now many people are still concerned about iron sales, but soon the industry will need to radically change established business models and strategies.

Leiden does not specify exactly how this should happen, but cites his collaboration with Streamline as an example. One of the ways to develop the industry, he sees in attracting new creators with fresh ideas, who previously for some reason were afraid or could not get into the gaming sphere. “We have to open up these opportunities for them, it’s super important,” Leiden notes.

Advantages and difficulties of indie developmentNew ideas and creative developers are now focused on the indie scene.

These studios are not constrained by corporate frameworks and can, among other things, give novice specialists a way into the industry.

However, Leyden believes that indie developers face no fewer difficulties. The main one is the constant search for funding. At the same time, publishers have so many levers of pressure on small studios that “creators do not have the opportunity to promote their vision.”

As a result, indie studios are forced to either cut their already modest budgets, or crunch in the hope of getting a contract with a publisher. Outside of successful projects, there are many developers who simply burn out in the face of fierce competition.