Ex-Sony Boss Shawn Layden Explains How to Make Games Faster, Cheaper

Khayl Adam: "Former president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Shawn Layden, began foretelling the current, apocalyptic state of the video game industry in 2020. A piece of conventional wisdom industry onlookers will often cite, Layden himself says it was no remarkable feat, gleaned by observing trend lines over decades. He even offered some suggestions for how developers can cut costs in the future and get their games out quicker."

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DarXyde23d ago

A very fair assessment. I think it's fair to say Nintendo runs away from photorealism at a million miles an hour, and that's really the best approach there. Maybe once in a while if you have a great idea, but you should really have a massive financial buffer to offset potential losses from an unsuccessful project.

Procedural generation is a great idea, but I fail to see how it differs very much from AI—sure, AI requires there to be some precedent to pull from, but I think both have the "green cow" restriction, where something novel is constructed from something that exists (in this case, recognizing a cow and the color green).

To that end, with the talk of more time and less money vs less time and more money, it sounds like Layden believes fewer games being made but with procedural generation will occupy gamers longer...? The challenge there is those games don't really have an end. But he does have data on his side that most people don't actually finish their games. I do, and this lack of closure on an undertaking would drive me a bit mad. But that's just me.

His approach is certainly more sustainable and he's got a great point. Remember how hard games were back on SNES and Sega Genesis? How many of us saw the end of all of those games without cheats or emulation? Many of those games may as well have been procedurally generated because you're hoping to beat it, but in reality it's just about how far you got that day (most games didn't save, in case you're reading this and a bit younger).

I personally prefer to see an end, but I can't really dispute his point either.

Michiel198923d ago

you actually got it twisted, with AI you shouldn't have to have a set of presets or precedent to pull from, it should be able to come up with that itself, with procedural generation you need to have a "ruleset" in which you need to design a level/map. Think of something like how tilesets from hades/diablo work, there is some freedom but if you play a decent amount of time, you will see the same layouts over and over, with AI that shouldn't be the case. If you wanna see some pretty advanced AI in gaming, check out open AI, they did some really impressive stuff with Dota 2 and with at least 1 other game which I can't remember.

DarXyde23d ago


I'm a bit skeptical of the idea that AI would be able to construct something entirely novel. Let's use the example of Google AI creating its own language between two AIs:

An AI would define language in a way that we define language: that is, it is possible to crack the code of this "novel language" because it must follow pre-existing rules for language. Grammar, syntax, etc. AI is essentially restricted to the information it is fed or pulls from, is it not? We often hear how AI models must be trained on something, so like people, it draws inspiration from existing ideas to create something new. If this is not the case, how could two AIs understand the language that is created? There has to be a set of existing rules to allow communication.

I don't mean to say you're wrong, I just don't think there is much distinction between it and procedural generation in game design.

You mention Dota 2 is doing something in this regard. I'll have to take a look at that and see what you mean.

Michiel198922d ago

in the case of ai vs procedural you can basically compare it to:
Procedural being tilesets that can be placed vs AI giving them a full blown level editor.

AI doesn't need to communicate with itself because you can kind of merge them together from what I understand. With openai they gave them only 2 objectives, killing the enemy base is good and dying is bad. From there on they kept the ai playing games against eachother at 10times normal speed or even faster, don't remember exactly how fast and then they managed to merge it somehow. The AI beat the best teams in the world, although after a while it got cheesed because the AI had very little playtime against people compared to playing vs ai, but just the fact that they managed to do that with AI, I'm sure it can handle a level editor and placing some objectives in them.

I'm not sure what you exactly mean with communicating, that a game will have several AI's in one game? because that's not how they do it now, it's one AI running everything, it only needs to communicate with itself. They idea behind is that the game devs will create/train the ai, not put in a blank slate ai and that hopefully after tons of hours for each individual player it will finally be half decent.

I don't mean that the ai will create everything, lore, assets and gameplay, if that's what you're thinking.

Can definitely recommend checking out the dota 2 openai stuff, although it might be hard to understand how good the AI actually is if you didn't play the game. (it also did plenty of terrible stuff, or at least things that people would never do)

derek23d ago

@Darx do you want more Nintendo type games? I don't. Use to be a big fan of Nintendo but they do not change they've been making largely the same games for over 30 years, like they're stuck on repeat. They're fun especially for kids but Nintendo will never make a game like gt7vr.

gold_drake23d ago

its also the fact that nintendo sets a budget for even their mainline games.

darthv7223d ago

When i was younger, games were short and to the point because they were meant to keep taking your $ at the arcades. Then came home games, and people wanted more for their $$ so the games got longer. Now that im older, i prefer shorter games. i have a shit ton of games i have started but never finished due to limited time and patience. This includes a laundry list of big AAA titles and RPG's.

i just can't do it anymore, which is why i play more arcade style games. I always buy the new big game in the hopes i can get into it... but always return to the shorter and easier to pick up and play ones.

gold_drake23d ago

im with ya.

im definitely cautious to what i buy these days.

anast22d ago

I'm the opposite. I used to prefer arcade fighters and etc, but as I get older I enjoy 80hr to 100hr experiences over the course of a few years. My focus has actually gotten stronger as my time has gotten more limited and there aren't that many actual good games to be in a hurry. We have been experiences quantity over quality.

anast22d ago


My typos aren't a good sign of focus here.

TiredGamer22d ago

Totally there. With the exception of a few games, I generally feel that games today are full of filler and the experience, even if it is a good one, gets stale after the 10 hour mark and I subconsciously reduce the effort to return to it and finish.

The original God of War is a title that I have never completed. I have gotten about 80% of the way through 3 separate times (original PS2, PS3 Remaster, and Ps Vita version), but I run out of steam at about the same mark and will just fail to return to it. And this kind of thing exemplifies my feeling with a lot of modern games. I just don’t have the desire to continue for hour upon hours once the concept wears thin.

The one modern example I will make an exception to are the FromSoft Souls titles. Those have that wonderful risk/reward old-school play style that keeps my interest for a good deal of time, and I have finished all of the mainline titles.

anast23d ago (Edited 23d ago )

This guy wants people to lower their expectations...I bet the prices will still keep going up though...A company like Sony should have almost impossible expectations, they're good for it, around $97b good with gaming being almost $6b good.

gold_drake23d ago

oh im fully expecting them to go up next gen. either right at the beginning or in the middle.

TiredGamer22d ago

Rational discussion is critical in this stage of game development. We are reaching a point now where you need hundreds of artists to make super detailed graphics in a game that most people don’t notice. I can appreciate photorealism, but the “wow” factor is gone for me and it’s not worth the extra time and money to chase diminishing returns.

Shawn is just talking sense. I’m a lifelong gamer and I only finish a fraction of the games that I start because they are too long for me. And I find myself more interested in retro gaming since the game concepts tend to be more pure and grounded. After PS3/XBox360, I have rarely been “wowed” by game graphics as they have achieved a general level of being good enough.

anast21d ago

I'm good. They can lower the prices and lower the pay and concentrate on making easier games to manage.

gold_drake23d ago

i also think games are so expensive cause of the seasoned directors in most cases. and you know, if you have 100 ppl working on a case, it stacks up fairly quickly.

Show all comments (19)

Game Pass Users Should Expect More Price Bumps in the Future, Says Analyst

Wccftech spoke with MIDiA Research games analyst Rhys Elliott about the recent Game Pass price increase. He believes there will be more of those in the future.

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1d 12h ago
Jin_Sakai1d 12h ago

Phil Spencer really bait and switched Xbox fans. Lol

Alexious12h ago

I mean, they couldn't possibly add all this stuff and keep the price the same

Tankbusta4012h ago

Its the way of all subscription services...the initial offering is an extremely good value because they are after capturing market share.. once any company gets enough people and ingrains their service into their subscribers they always increase prices

Einhander197211h ago(Edited 11h ago)

They could have not bought all these publishers and still got the games.

Then not had to close 4 studios fire 5000 people from their gaming division or had to raise the price because they spent 70 bn for CoD.

How much does the price of game pass need to increase to cover all this development. Is it even possible to get the price high enough to cover the costs before it's unappealing to consumers anymore?

How many more studio closures and price increases need to happen before game pass becomes profitable or even breaks even?

Obscure_Observer11h ago


"How many more studio closures and price increases need to happen before game pass becomes profitable or even breaks even?"

Gamepass subscribers aren´t worried about that. That´s a MS concern.

Let them worry about their money. As long as we continue to get our day one games I couldn´t give a damn.

Already paid for my two year Ultimate subscription plan before the new prices, so I´m good. :)

Einhander197210h ago


Closing Arkane and Tango affected everyone who enjoyed their games, all the people who have lost their jobs were affected. I don't think many game pass subscribers are happy with how Microsoft handled those concerns.

You're not getting any more day one games from those studios and whatever studios get cut in the next round.

And the reaction shows that most game pass subscribers would disagree with you.

You better hope Microsoft doesn't have any more "changes" planned for the next two years...

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 10h ago
ChasterMies10h ago

Xbox fans knew what they were getting. If you got the $1 uograde price for 3 years or Game Pass Ultimate, you probably got your money’s worth.

darthv721d 11h ago

Im not a fan of price increases... but I dont mind paying more so long as nothing is taken away at the same time. I've had my share of subscriptions where the prices went up but they also removed some features. Those situations are what really grinds my gears.

VersusDMC11h ago

So gamepass console that included day one games at 10$ a month being replaced with Gamepass standard at 15$ a month with included core but no more day ones must really grind your gears.