Former PlayStation executive Shawn Layden recently spoke at Gamelab Live with Venturebeat’s Dean Takahashi (the guy that couldn’t get past Cuphead’s tutorial), where Layden expressed his beliefs on next-gen triple-A games with sprawling open-worlds and how they will likely end up in a situation with “bloating budgets and less return.”
In a new report by website gamerant.com, we learn that Layden wants base game prices to go up (from $59.99 to something higher). However, gamers will rightfully boycott that decision — despite most companies still funneling money from people through DLC, Season Passes, and other special editions of a new game. His alternative to this situation is devs downscaling big games and developing shorter/cheaper experiences.
However, Layden started his take on next-gen games hitting a wall moving forward by telling Takahashi that current-gen “development costs and return” won’t end well next-gen:
“I don’t think that, in the next generation, you can take those numbers and multiply them by two and think that you can grow. I think the industry as a whole needs to sit back and go, ‘Alright, what are we building? What’s the audience’s expectation?'”
Layden then goes on to explain that publishers and developers need to scale back from the 50-60 hour gameplay quota and aim for a lower number to churn out something with a better outcome next-gen:
“It’s hard for every adventure game to shoot for the 50 to 60-hour gameplay milestone. Because that’s gonna be so much more expensive to achieve. And in the end, you may close some interesting creators and their stories out of the market if that’s the kind of threshold they have to meet… We have to reevaluate that.”
After saying that, Layden pulls out the typical “new games are becoming too expensive” card and suggests that gamers should pay more for triple-A games:
“It’s been $59.99 since I started in this business, but the cost of games have gone up ten times. If you don’t have elasticity on the price-point, but you have huge volatility on the cost line, the model becomes more difficult. I think this generation is going to see those two imperatives collide.
[AAA development] won’t be less expensive than the current generation of game development. 4K, HDR art and creating worlds don’t come cheap.”
However, Layden proposes that if gamers won’t pay extra for social justice games filled with current year propaganda, glitches, and other issues found in games made ten years ago, he thinks that developers should make the change:
“So how can we look at that and say: Is there another answer? Instead of spending five years making an 80 hour game, what does three years and a 15 hour game look like? What would be the cost around that? Is that a full-throated experience?
Throwing his personal preference on the table, Layden says that he would like to see video games return to the 12 to 15 hour-long format:
“Personally, as an older gamer… I would welcome a return to the 12 to 15 hour [AAA] game. I would finish more games, first of all, and just like a well edited piece of literature or a movie, looking at the discipline around that could give us tighter, more compelling content.
“It’s something I’d like to see a return to in this business.”
With that said, what do you think of Layden’s thoughts and plan surrounding next-gen triple-A games?