Shawn Layden on ‘Fewer, But Bigger’ Sony First Party Games, Acquiring Studios, and More

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.

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Sony Patents New Backwards Compatibility System, Could Include Full Lineage of PlayStation Consoles

Sony Japan has just registered a new patent centered around backwards compatibility that could allow their next generation hardware to have retro-compatibility on all of Sony’s previous home console. While there is no direct confirmation that the patent is specifically for the inevitable PlayStation 5, the timing seems to all but fit the forecast of 2020 that many analysts and insiders have predicted.

The patent, which was published on January 31st, 2019, shows an intricate system that could be applied to future hardware (more than likely the unannounced PlayStation 5), allowing the system’s processor to ‘interpret’ the CPU of previous compatible systems. As pointed out by Spanish site HobbyConsolas, Mark Cerny, designer of the PlayStation 4’s structure, developed the patent which has been filed under #2019-503013.

The primary focus of the patent is to perfectly execute previous hardware’s games and software on future hardware, helping to eliminate bugs and errors that could permanently damage said games or hardware. For example, given the processing power of newer and future consoles, data could accidentally overwritten and compromised on the older software and emulated hardware, and in turn could damage the current hardware as well.

This patent comes on the heels of a rumor that many of Sony’s first party studios have began focusing on projects for their next generation of consoles, which seems to point that the popular line of home console will be seeing a new iteration in the very near future.

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Breaking: Nintendo Confirms Restart on Metroid Prime 4 Development, Bringing On Retro Studios

In a shocking turn of events, Nintendo has confirmed that development on the highly anticipated Metroid Prime 4 will be restarted, with the series’s original creator Retro Studios being brought in to help with the process.

In a video released on Nintendo’s YouTube page, Shinya Takahashi, Senior Managing Executive Officer, released the statement regarding the status of the newest entry in the beloved Sci-Fi series. “We deeply understand the high anticipation that Metroid Prime series fans have for this title” Takahashi began. “Ever since the announcement, we have not been able to give you an update but as a result of the continuing development since that time – although this is very regrettable – we must let you know that the current development progress has not reached the standards we seek in a sequel to the Metroid Prime series. We have determined that the current development status of the game is very challenged, and we had to make a difficult decision as a development team. We have decided to re-examine the development structure itself and change it. Specifically, we decided to have the Producer, Kensuke Tanabe, to work in trust and collaboration with the studio that developed the original Metroid Prime series, Retro Studios in the United States, and restart development from the beginning.”

For decades, the Japanese gaming giant has been known for its development philosophy that iconic company figure Shigeru Miyamoto made famous, that “a delayed game is eventually good, and a bad game is bad forever”; which Takahashi touches on in the statement. “Nintendo always strives for the highest quality in our games; and in the development phase, we challenge ourselves and confront whether the game is living up to that quality on a daily basis. If we’re not satisfied with the quality, we aren’t able to deliver it to our customers with confidence, and the game will not live up to our fans’ expectations. From this perspective, we have determined that the current development status of the game is very challenged, and we had to make a difficult decision as a development team.”

Takahashi emphasizes that it will be quite some time before fans see the product in full, with development restarting, but expresses confidence that the wait will be worth it, as the company hopes to bring fans of the long running series an entry that fans will hold in high regard.

Metroid Prime 4 was originally announced at Nintendo’s E3 2017 Spotlight Direct, with no additional information provided at the time or since then regarding the development of the game, including a release date or even an attached development team. Rumors began circulating after E3 2018 that the company had planned to reveal the game later that year at the Game Awards 2018 for a release the following year, along with a Metroid Prime Trilogy collection for the Switch, but neither were heard of or seen at the event in December.

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It’s Official: Marvel’s Spider-Man is Getting the Sam Raimi Spider-Man (2002) Suit

Marvel’s Spider-Man was one of the most popular and well received games of 2018, with fans and critics alike commending the game for its blend of style and narrative at a level that the comic book brand’s movies are known for. One details within the game that fans have adored is the ability to collect different variations of Spider-Man’s popular suit. While many from Marvel’s past and present have found their way into the game, one iconic cinematic suit has been missing from both the base game and various DLC update. That is, until this morning.

In tweets released by PlayStation and the game’s developer Insomniac Games, the duo confirmed that the famous suit from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movie triloy is coming to the PlayStation 4 exclusive game in a free update later today.

“We have a special holiday gift for #SpiderManPS4 player” Insomniac Games’s tweet stated. “Today’s game update will include a highly requested suit. Hint: It’s webbed and it’s FREE for owners of Marvel’s Spider-Man“. Included within the tweet is also a screen grab of the Raimi suit in action, captured on a PlayStation 4 Pro.

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy first appeared on the big screen in 2002, to critical and commercial success, with many pointing to the series as a major stepping stone in the quality of adapting comic books to film. This isn’t the first time the suit can be found in video game-form, with multiple licensed games coming from the films during their time of release. The suit also joins the Stark suit and Iron Spider suits in line of movie-accurate attire added to Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Marvel’s Spider-Man released on PlayStation 4 on September 7th, 2018, setting numerous sales records, both specific to the system and the console brand as well. The final entry in its DLC expansion, The City That Never Sleeps, is set to release this Friday, December 21st, 2108.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 ‘Battle Edition Available Now on PC, Multiplayer and Blackout Only

The PC version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is getting a repackaging less than two months after its launch, titled the ‘Battle Edition’, which contains only the multiplayer and Blackout battle royale modes of the game.

In a press release from Activision-Blizzard, the company announced the popular first person shooter’s new mode will be exclusive to PC players, and have a limited time $29.99 price tag.

Commenting on the newly released edition of the newest Black Ops entry, Senior Vice President of Global Digital and Mobile Commerce at Activision, Rob Schonfeld, stated that the response to the game has been fantastic since launch, with strong fan engagement continuing the game post launch. “The Black Ops 4 Battle Edition is a great way to bring even more new players into the game and allow them to jump into the incredibly fun Multiplayer and Blackout modes which fans have loved so much since day one.” Schonfeld added.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 12th, 2018 to positive reviews, with critics sighting the new Blackout mode as a fun twist on the battle royale genre. Currently, the PC version of the game sits at a 82/100 on MetaCritic.

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‘Just Cause 4’ May Have One of the Best Easter Eggs in Gaming (No Spoilers)

For what seems to be to the surprise of many, Just Cause 4 released yesterday on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, for the past 36 hours, fans have been soaring around the huge open world, doing crazy stunts and blowing up everything they can think of in Square Enix’s newest release. While the is known for its crazy stunts and acton movie level stunts, the newest entry may now be know for having one of the best easter eggs in all of gaming.

In the clip above, if the players venture to the area marked in the video, you can take a flight of stairs down to a scene directly resembling the memorable music video for a-ha’s “Take on Me”. The music video for the popular 80’s song depicts a lady entering what seems to be a comic book and being chased throughout various panels of drawings. Almost one billion views have been amassed on the YouTube video version.

While many games have implemented a multitude of easter eggs in their games (the Grand Theft Auto series having quite a few throughout their history), this may be the most original and well designed one out yet.

Just Cause 4 currently sits at a 75/100 on MetaCritic, with many reviewers labeling it a “review in progress” due to the quick release of the game.

For more updates on Just Cause 4, and all releases this holiday season, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and keep it locked in at Bonus Accessory.

Multiple Diablo Projects to be Revealed Over ‘The Coming Year’, Blizzard Confirms

While the backlash surrounding Diablo Immortal still continues to roll in, Blizzard has reassured fans that the mobile version of the classic series isn’t the only project in the works.

In a response to a forum post over at, user ‘Nevalistis’, a community manager for the Diablo team at Blizzard, has confirmed that the company plans to release information on multiple Diablo projects over the coming year. “We continue to read feedback and our internal discussions are ongoing. We have many plans for Diablo across multiple projects which we’ll be revealing over the course of the coming year”, Nevalistis stated. “We are eager to share more about all of our projects, but some will have to wait as we prefer to show you, rather than tell you, about them. It’s going to take some time as we strive to meet your expectations, but now, more than ever, we are committed to delivering Diablo experiences the community can be proud of.”

Rumors of a supposed confirmation of Diablo 4 have been circling the internet for months now, including a scrapped BlizzCon 2018 reveal video and a complete overhaul of the development on the game; a possible remaster of Diablo 2 has been thrown around as well. At this point, Diablo 4 has all but been confirmed, from multiple sources, but the ball still remains in Blizzard’s court on when the public will officially know of it.

Diablo, which has been one of Blizzards most popular franchises for over two decades, has continued to see support in the forms of various ports and re-releases of its latest release, Diablo 3, including most recently on the Nintendo Switch.

While fans remain skeptical on what the Diablo team at Blizzard is working on, it looks like the gaming world won’t have to wait much longer until the curtain is pulled back on what Blizzard is cooking up.

For more updates regarding the Diablo franchise, including the heavily rumored Diablo 4, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and keep it locked in at Bonus Accessory.

In Defense of (Game of the Year): God of War

With the award season right around the corner, Bonus Accessory will be taking a look at some of the top games of the past year, and examine why each game deserves the title of Game of the Year. This is part one of our five part series entitled ‘In Defense of’, and we are starting off with Sony Santa Monica’s God of War.

Sony Santa Monica Studio’s God of War is what every narrative driven game should aim to be; thought-provoking, emotional, light-hearted when appropriate, atmospheric, cinematic, and the list goes on and on. What Cory Barlog and his incredibly talented team did with a franchise that in most instances was (metaphorically) more icing than cake at times, in terms of narrative depth, should be considered an achievement in modern storytelling in general, and is only a portion of what made this game the critical and commercial success it is.

The mainline God of War series has never suffered from gameplay issues. Every entry in the series has been mechanically tight, responsive and most importantly, fun; but in the current era of gaming, where games are slowly becoming viewed more as experiences, gameplay does have a finite end. Now, that’s not saying that a game doesn’t need to have responsive controls, but when games such as Uncharted 4, the Last of Us, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Red Dead Redemption 2 are finding huge critical and commercial success, it’s easy to see how important narrative depth is to gamers this generation. Take Red Dead Redemption 2 for example; for all of the accolades it has received since its launch, every major criticism the game receives revolves around its controls. Clunky, out-dated, unresponsive at time; all adjectives that could be applied to Rockstar’s tragic tale depicting the deterioration of the wild west in the late 19th century. Yet, ask anyone who has either played the game and more time than not, they will shower the game with unanimous praise, with some even go as far to say it is a genre defining experience. By no means am I saying their assessment of the game is wrong, but how can a game that seems so abrasive in the way it plays, be regarded so highly by so many? Simple: it’s narrative is too compelling to make you care about how the game plays.

In terms of God of War though, the best part is, there is no compromising either end. What you get out of the box is something that blends a complex, beautiful and at time poignant narrative with addictive gameplay that is rewarding, deep but very approachable. From the moment you begin your quest of closure with Kratos to the moment the credits begin to roll, you are completely incapsulated by the story Richard Zangrande Gaubert, Matt Sophos, and Cory Barlog have penned for the player. With so much emphasis put on player immersion in gaming, Sony Santa Monica molded an experience that never truly broke that immersion. The player is shown everything that Kratos and his son Atreus experience from the moment you begin their emotional journey, by never breaking a single camera shot. Everything you experience in God of War is one continuous camera shot. Rarely in film is this feat achievable, let alone done in a way that audiences usually find positive. Finding a way to make the narrative of Kratos’s adventure flow comfortably for the player and feel natural always seemed to be the biggest hurdle the game had against it, when word started spreading that Sony Santa Monica chose to go this route; but without a doubt, they were able to completely knock it out of the park. Loading screen are invisible to the naked eye, and never break the plot or gameplay up for the player.

Optimization of the game provides players on all generations of PlayStation 4 hardware to experience the beauty of the game, without compromising anything for those with older variations of the system. PlayStation 4 Pro owners are presented with an even greater amount of performance options, including the ability to favor resolution for 4K gaming and greater detail at 30 fps (frames per second), along with a performance mode that focuses on giving the player a buttery-smooth 60 fps experience. No corner ever feels cut when playing through God of War. Every detail, ever nook and cranny, every iota of this game feels like it has been personally attended to and given exclusive attention.

The creation of this world and those who inhabit it, is that of a master craft gift to the medium. Lead by Rafael Grassetti, the art department at Sony Santa Monica grasped the feel of a mythological world, using a diverse mixture of colors and styles to give players the feeling of traveling across a vast universe. From beautifully painted pastel skies, to the deepest hues of blue and grey while deep within the world’s crust, every inch of the game aesthetically screams beauty. Musically, the game wraps your in melodies that metaphorically range from a heroic conquest against evil, to the downfall of all hope in the world. Bear McCreary, who composed the game’s soundtrack, takes the player on an epic journey filled with emotional highs and lows told through the largely orchestral track list with choir chanting and ominous drums. Normally, I don’t find myself going out of my way to listen to soundtracks to most movies, shows or games; but God of War‘s is so impactful, that I have it saved on my Spotify account and play it in a pretty regular fashion. So many artistic aspects of this game provide players a blueprint of the narrative without actually telling them, which even with the emphasis set on narrative strength in single player experiences today, is rare.

But what I think is the most rewarding for players is the complete transformation of Kratos’s character from the original trilogy of God of War titles to 2018’s entry. Kratos was a character that I rarely connected with in previous titles; he was brash, bullheaded and to be quite honest, not overly complex in terms of his ideology. Sometimes, simplicity in storytelling is great (look at 2018’s A Quiet Place). There’s no need to overcomplicate a character or plot if it is not a valid reason to, but Kratos didn’t fall into that spectrum. He was, for all intents and purposes, bland (to me, at least). Fast forward to 2018, and the Kratos that first emerges from his secluded lifestyle is one that carries a burden on his back; not of his current life, but of his past. Since relocating to the heard of ancient Norway, in the realm of Midgard, he has grown as a character. He remarried to a ‘Norse’ woman names Faye, and donned the cowl of fatherhood again, by providing life to a son named Atreus. He tries to become a man that no longer needs regret and anger to control his being, but as he tries to escape his past, he begins to be pulled back into the very pits of rage he has tried to leave. Sure, he still dons his familiar tattoos and ‘ash grey’ completion, but beneath the flesh and bone lays a soul that yearns for closure and acceptance. The narrative may surrounds Kratos and Atreus’s journey to spread his since deceased wife’s ashes at the highest peak in all the realms, but it truly cuts deeper than what’s at the surface; it’s the story of Kratos truly shedding his past demons, and evolving into the man he wants to be for his son. Depth, is truly the greatest reward the player will find in terms of the characters who inhabit this game, and specifically with its main protagonist.

God of War has cemented its place as one of, if not the, premiere titles in the PlayStation 4’s expansive library of games. No other games offers a package as complete as the epic tale Sony Santa Monica produced in 2018. From story, to gameplay, to the fluidity of presentation, God of War is a game that not only will stand tall during award season in 2018, but will continue to be the standard-bearer for narratively driven experience for years to come.

For more upcoming entries into the ‘In Defense of’ series, along with updates on the gaming industry’s award seas, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and keep it locked in on Bonus Accessory.

Red Dead Online Beta to Start Tomorrow (November 27th)

After a record setting release and numerous accolades to its single player narrative, Red Dead Redemption 2’s online multiplayer experience Red Dead Online is set to drops this week, starting tomorrow, November 27th, with a beta for the service.

Players who purchased the “Ultimate Edition” from GameStop will have access to the Red Dead Online beta starting November 27th, and will being full testing for players who played the game on launch (October 26th) starting the following day on November 28th. The beta will then open up to all players the following day. Staggering the online beta to test server strength will hopefully help Rockstar avoid the issues it faced when GTA Online launched in 2013.

While details are still scarce on how the online experience will actually function, the Verge was able to get a tidbit of info on the upcoming mode:

With the gameplay of Red Dead Redemption 2 as its foundation, Red Dead Online transforms the vast and deeply detailed landscapes, cities, towns, and habitats of Red Dead Redemption 2 into a new, living online world ready to be shared by multiple players. Create and customize your character, tailor your abilities to suit your play style, and head out into a new frontier full of things to experience.

Explore this huge world solo or with friends. Form or join a posse to ride with up to seven players; gather around the fire at your camp; head out hunting or fishing; visit bustling towns; battle enemy gangs and attack their hideouts; hunt for treasure; take on missions and interact with familiar characters from across the five states; or fight against other outlaws in both spontaneous skirmishes and pitched set-piece battles; compete with other players or whole posses in open world challenges and much more.

We will continue to update you as the week goes on if a full launch date outside of the beta is announced.


For more updates on Red Dead Redemption 2, including its upcoming online experience Red Dead Online, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @BonusAccessory and keep it locked in on Bonus Accessory.

Deal of the Day: PS4 Slim, Red Dead Redemption 2, Extra Controller for $199 (Cyber Monday)

Just when you thought that you couldn’t beat that Spider-Man PS4 Slim bundle for $199 this past Black Friday weekend, Sony and Walmart just raised the bar.

As first reported by Tom’s Guide, starting at 12am on November 26th (midnight tonight), Walmart will be selling a PS4 Slim 1 TB model, the critically acclaimed and newly released Red Dead Redemption 2, and an extra Dual Shock 4 controller for a whopping $199.99. This deal is just asinine, plain and simple. While Walmart has been selling the bundle all weekend, this deal will see an extra $100 price drop from the original $299 sale price.

With Sony pushing ever closer to the 100 million mark in console sales, along with the increasing rumors surrounding the PlayStation 5 with Sony’s planned absence from E3 2019, it seems the company is trying to push as many consoles into homes as possible. So, if you aren’t already in the PlayStation 4 ecosystem, now is the perfect time to pull the trigger!


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