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Shawn Layden suggest publishers be patient, let new games grow

The former PlayStation head thinks the industry jumped too many guns much too quickly, and the best way to sort things out is to not be so hasty.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 18, 2024

2 Min Read
Headshot of former Sony INteractive Entertainment head Shawn Layden.
Image via Shawn Layden/Readygg.

Shawn Layden has looked at the last two years of strife within the game industry and come to a conclusion: publishers need to relax.

Talking to GamesIndustry for its new GI Sprint podcast, the ex-PlayStation boss decried the industry for being so quick to shut down a studio or lay off employees. It's "real frustrating" for newer studios, he added, since they don't get a real chance to grow.

"When you bring completely new things that people have not seen before," he said, "the publishing industry doesn't have patience now to nurture these things, and they feel they need the quick big win."

Layoffs have been hitting the industry hard since 2023, particularly newer studios. Some have closed down before their debut project was revealed (much less released), while others have had severe cutbacks in the aftermath of that first title.

To Layden, the "real frustrating" part is how publishers see a game but "don't have the patience to play this thing out into part two or three." He also thinks overreliance on safe bets (aka established IP) will get the industry nowhere.

"The vast majority of the planet has already said Grand Theft Auto is not that interesting, Call of Duty is not that interesting. [...] If people have already said they're not interested, building more of those experiences will not get them in."

New ideas are all well and good, but Layden also believes patience is needed in gauging the market. Layoffs are happening now largely because of "artificial growth" during the pandemic, and some studios admitting their eyes were bigger than their stomachs at the time.

Layden has no ill will for studios who took risky bets back then, but noted cooler heads are needed now. And when companies eventually realize they overextended themselves, the smaller studios should not be the one taking the hit.

"Companies say everybody's got to take a haircut," he continued. "And some of the smallest studios are going: 'Why do I need the haircut? You bought me for a little bit of money to give me some freedom to do the thing I do… I didn't tell you to spend double digit billions of dollars on buying other stuff.'"

Layden's full segment on layoffs and the industry's pandemic boom can be read here.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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