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Former PlayStation Boss Says AAA Game Development Is ‘Just Not Sustainable’

Shawn Layden, the former PlayStation Worldwide Studios boss, has criticised the current AAA game development business and has encouraged developers to make changes.

According to, Layden, who left PlayStation last year after working with the company for more than 20 years, made the comments when speaking at the Gamelab Live conference and said that the cost of game development doubling with each new console generation is problematic for the industry and unsustainable.

During his speech, Layden touched on the game development process of AAA games such as God Of War and the critically acclaimed The Last Of Us Part 2 before recalling how video games previously had development budgets of around $1 million – a cost which has since grown to between $80 and $150 million.

“I don’t think that, in the next generation, you can take those numbers and multiply them by two and think that you can grow,” he explained. “I think the industry as a whole needs to sit back and go, ‘Alright, what are we building? What’s the audience expectation? What is the best way to get our story across, and say what we need to say?”

Changing The Industry

Layden then highlighted the discrepancy between the rising cost of video game development and the purchase price of a game which has remained consistent for several years.

He said: “It’s been $59.99 since I started in this business, but the cost of games have gone up ten times. If you don’t have elasticity on the price-point, but you have huge volatility on the cost line, the model becomes more difficult. I think this generation is going to see those two imperatives collide.”

Layden then called for the AAA video games industry to develop games around 12 to 15-hours in length as opposed to the current trend where games take 30-hours or more to complete.

Explaining his decision, Layden said: “I would finish more games, first of all, and just like a well-edited piece of literature or a movie, looking at the discipline around that could give us tighter, more compelling content. It’s something I’d like to see a return to in this business.”

Users across social media have supported Layden’s comments, with many claiming they would prefer to play several shorter unique stories over padded longer games. What do you think? Comment below and let us know.

Image Credit: Screenshot – PlayStation YouTube

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