The eighth generation of video game consoles have been nothing short of a grand slam for Sony and the PlayStation 4, selling over 91 million units in its lifespan so far. With the newest generation of consoles looming on the ever closing horizon, many have found it interesting to see that the Japanese tech giant has decided to take the year off from attending E3 2019, the biggest gaming expo and press event of the year, leading speculation to run wild on what Sony could have up their sleeve. At the helm of the company’s gaming endeavors, chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios, has remained overall silent outside of his ‘see you in the new year’ tweet late last year. Now, the Sony executive is starting to reemerge in the public, ahead of his upcoming keynote speaking role at tomorrow’s DICE Awards.
In an interview with CNet, the long time Sony staple touched on a number of topics, including the company’s current mindset on how they go about producing first party titles with current trends in mind. “I think we’ve done a lot over the last three or four years to get us to a place right now where we’re building fewer games per year than ever before, but we’re spending more time, more energy, certainly more money, on making them” Layden touched on. “So we’re striking on all the beats that we want to, and we’re getting both critical and commercial acclaim. Let’s see now what we might add to our arsenal. I’ve looked at some opportunities in the past, it’s an opportunity to look for the ones that are the best cultural fit.”
Naturally, his answer led to a follow up surrounding the company’s decision process in terms of acquiring studios. “We’re always exploring opportunities” Layden continued. “If we found a partner or a team or a game that we felt was particularly meaningful and interesting in a service area, we will look to bring that in. We’re always open to that kind of experience. We try to make it really easy for our teams to focus on what our vision is for the future. And we have simplified it to ‘first, best or must.’ If your title is going to be “first” and creating a genre, or “first” and creating a new game activity, let’s look at that. If you’re going to make an action adventure game, It better be “best” in class. And we have the third category called “must,” which is we must support the platform, we must be present when new technology comes out.” First party studios and an emphasis on exclusive titles has always been a sticking point for the now fourth generation gaming hardware company, but competitors have began to take notice of their secret formula. Currently, Microsoft now owns fourteen game studios, with seven of them being added in the past year.
Layden also emphasized that Sony still is putting accessibility in mind first and foremost when delving into a eventual streaming-based future of gaming. While he confirms that PlayStation does have a great ecosystem set in place for those who are interested in streaming with PlayStation Now, Layden promises that the company still views their perspective as “we can leave no gamer behind”. When the PlayStation 4 was first in development, talks of a web based system were plentiful, but the company wanted to keep the system accessible to everyone possible, using the example of military members using the hardware. Many wouldn’t have access to internet when on deployment (or internet that was stable enough to download/stream info consistently), so disc based hardware was important.
While Layden remained tight lipped on the rumors surrounding the inevitable PlayStation 5, it is a good sign to see the company begin to emerge as the new year is in full force. With upcoming first party blockbusters such as The Last of Us Part II, Ghosts of Tsushima, and Death Stranding still possible to all release this year on current generational hardware, along with the upcoming Day’s Gone, Sony fans should buckle their seat belts; the rollercoaster may be just about to start.