Shawn Layden: Consolidation is the enemy of diversity

From "At Gamelab last year, Shawn Layden grabbed headlines for calling out the spiralling costs of game development.

Although much was made of his suggestion that games should be smaller (or more expensive), his concerns are rooted in the reality that for all the revenue growth seen in the console space, audience growth remains elusive. The number of people who own consoles today is broadly the same as it was in the late 1990s, around 240 to 260 million people."

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MIDGETonSTILTS1758d ago (Edited 58d ago )

Is anybody else surprised that the amount of consoles worldwide has remained static since the late 90s?

EvertonFC58d ago (Edited 58d ago )

It's why AAA will be dead if the industry isn't careful and what I mean by that is 1st party AAA have a audience of 20million max and that hasn't changed either from 10/15years ago? It's the 20million hardcore gamer only picking up those AAA titles yet f2p has gone from a few million players to huge numbers (50/100m) with fortnite etc and very little money needed to develop the game compared to AAA budgets.
I'm 45 and I hate to say it but the industry isn't going in the direction I want it too 😔
I'll probably be a VR and AR only gamer in the future


Yeah it sounds like price hikes are inevitable for AAA games unless they can expand the audience, and it’s only shrinking since younger consumers are adopting f2p games like fortnite instead.

I hope some devs aren’t afraid to charge what they need for a high quality experience.

DarXyde58d ago

Hm, costs are certainly going up (hence a big reason we're seeing games on PC and console more and rallying behind an architecture that makes it easier to port). Nixxes will have their work cut out for them on Sony's side of things.

Maybe it's just me... but in the interest of protecting the industry, I'm not against product placement ads in games (with some ground rules, of course—cannot influence content in games beyond product placement like a character wearing a Seiko watch, cannot influence the window of development resulting in rushed games, etc.).

Thing is, this would be much more manageable if people were cool with paying more. Remember when a game selling 500k copies was super profitable? Costs have outstripped everything. I don't blame gamers either, by the way—money is hard to come by.

There are plenty competing interests to keep the industry financially viable. At the end of the day, we've been seeing compromises every generation: fewer exclusives, longer development cycles, black and white manuals to eventually digital ones or none at all; microtransactions, digital only games, loot boxes, copy/paste jobs, etc.

On the other side of that, developers are working longer hours and may get fired/laid off if a game underperforms (which is crazy because it may literally be the CEOs input that results in subpar projects.

There are so many moving pieces and the stakes keep increasing. All of the platform holders are fighting against industry collapse in their own ways (Nintendo not pursuing power to keep hardware profitable and licensing first party titles to get a publisher cut/licensing cut, Sony with VR and expanding the audience to PC, Microsoft with a subscription model).

I wish them all luck, but yeah. This is a tricky one.

glennhkboy58d ago

Outside of US & Western Europe, mobile phone is the major gaming platform. Only Nintendo is trying to compete in that same mobile market.

DJStotty58d ago (Edited 58d ago )

False info, what he means is userbase of Playstation and Nintendo has been more or less static since the 90's, he is not factoring in today's markets of mobile, xbox, tablet into that equation.

The audience of console gamers has grown exponentially since the 90's.

PS1 - 102 million global
Sega Saturn - 8.8 million global
3DO - no data
N64 - 32 million global
Jaguar - no data

So gen 5 - console launch dates between 1993-1997 would be the "late 90's" he is referencing right? Since Gen 6 did not start till 1999-2020.

I don't see 240 million console owners in the data?

Compared with today

PS4 - 115 million total
Switch - 88 million total
Xbox One - 50 million total

So no, console owners has literally doubled since the late 90's, deduced from cold hard data.

GamesAsAService58d ago

I never gave it much thought, but it does seem to make sense.

I think that there are a lot of hurdles that keep the console user base at the number it currently is at.

- Buying a dedicated gaming machine vs buying devices that can do gaming as well.
- Cost of new AAA games (which tend to be the justification for console gaming to exist in the first place AKA "if it wasn't for console gaming we would just be playing shitty mobile games" criticism)

I think these two items keep console gaming at that 250 m number that is being cited by Shawn.

I mean, it looks like product that is being produced by the gaming industry in its current form is keeping enthusiasts like ourselves coming back, but in terms of gaining a new customers and expanding the audience, the industry in its current form is not doing enough to get more people to join in.

What do you think would get more people into console gaming? Do you think that we would lose something if the industry pivoted towards expanding the console market?

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 58d ago
Atom66658d ago

I'm not even sure we can say static.

Consider that both the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X were counted within last gen numbers. There was a lot of double dipping there.

Plus, you could also include dedicated handheld in the mix.

DS + PSP = a combined 230million.

3DS + Vita = a combined 90million?

PC and Mobile have grown, but the dedicated gaming device is in a tough spot. But this is why we saw Nintendo lean into the hybrid approach and Xbox (and now Sony) opened up to expansion on PC.

Revenue is still going in the right direction, but the classic closed box approach won't last forever. Like any business, you're either growing or you're dying.

Eonjay59d ago

What the actual hell are you responding to?

LucasRuinedChildhood58d ago (Edited 58d ago )

He probably just saw the word "diversity" and thought Layden was talking about race (he's actually talking diversity of game output) because he didn't bother reading the article.

annoyedgamer59d ago

Sounds like he is saying monopolies hurts the industry which I can agree with.

Eonjay59d ago

No I can't really think of a single situation where Monopoly has resulted in cheaper prices for the consumer.

Lightning7759d ago (Edited 59d ago )

That's what he's saying Somewhat. He saying there's less risks being taken in the industry, shunning the little guys and making deals or making games that are 200m$ ventures. Talking with the same ppl making the same type of games.

I would argue that these big AAA games are are very important in exploring what a game could be, the next big thing. The possible break through with cutting edge technology to bring these games to life or build a brand new engaging game mechanics. The little guys dont have the money nor the resources to do things like that. It starts with the big guys then trickles down to the little guys as these new systems, techniques and technology gets more widely adopted. IMO I think there are Way too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to Aaa's development. Look at Cyberpunk.

If we're talking Sony I think he left prematurely. Sony has 25 games spanning across this generation in which half are new IP. Sony are most definitely taking risks. Now if he's talking the rest of the industry and 3rd party. Then yeah I can agree with him there no doubt.

porkChop59d ago

He didn't "leave" Sony prematurely, he was forced out by Jim Ryan. He's pretty much confirmed it at this point by liking hundreds of tweets referencing it.

Redemption-6458d ago

Seriously can you please provide me with proof Jim forced out Shawn? I would love to see where all these made up stories are coming from. If anything, Shawn was literally Jim's boss, and possibly his eventual successor. Sony changed leadership from PS3 to PS4 and now to PS5. The board of directors get to pick and fire a CEO, so I don't know how you think Jim, who was under Shawn would force him out. Anyway I look forward to you proving me wrong with your evidence.

58d ago
TheHan58d ago

That’s far from what he’s saying.

Rude-ro58d ago (Edited 58d ago )

Not monopolies…
The cashing in.

The number of concurrent gamers every gen is not growing.
The growth that is had is from generations sharing and passing down per a family.
Eventually, a parent will sacrifice their hobby if their sibling/s keep playing because it is becoming too expensive to support multiple gamers in one house.

Diversity comes from chances…if a company pushes the price too far, cuts will need to be made to see returns. Ie your smaller developers, that bring diversity into gaming go away.

It is a solid point.

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Imortus_san59d ago ShowReplies(8)
JustTheFax59d ago

He has such a punchable face. Can't stand the lispy douchebag

Chriswheeler2259d ago

Its the no neck look as well.

Orchard59d ago

Perhaps, but he oversaw PS & WW Studios during their best years in recent history and gave us some pretty awesome games & new IPs.

EvertonFC58d ago

That's Aaron greenberg and Phil spencer

JustTheFax57d ago

Yeah they are pretty punchable too

Rimeskeem58d ago

That’s Shawn, not Phil. Wrong guy.

BLow58d ago

That's great. Thanks for letting us all know that. Do you actually have a response to what he said? Or are we just doing personal attacks. I know that's the thing now days.

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