Former PlayStation boss argues acquisitions could lead to less creative games

4 mins read
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Credit: Activision Blizzard.

Shawn Layden, who was the president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, has shared his concerns on the effect of consolidation on creativity in the gaming industry.

Talking in an interview with the LAN Parties podcast, Layden agreed that acquisitions are able to offer a lifeline to smaller studios who are struggling with big bills from the cost of development.

Nevertheless, it is the existence of these smaller studios that are indicative of an environment that encourages a range of ideas and possibilities, he said.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Credit: Activision Blizzard.

“My concern around consolidation is that often it impacts creativity. For instance, it takes some kind of small, independent, wildhorse studios and brings them into a larger conglomerate and essentially time slows down the bigger you are, time slows down,” explained Layden (via Kotaku).

“I’m also concerned when studios get bought and instead of enabling a way to create their game, they maybe get absorbed into a larger enterprise that’s making a larger game, you know, how many studios are involved in making blockbuster games that will stagger the mind.”

There have been significant shifts in the industry in 2023, even excluding the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft. Earlier this year, Embracer Group announced its intentions to restructure which would lead to the closure of companies under its umbrella.

One of these was Volition, which was shuttered only two months after it celebrated its 30th anniversary on its social media channels.

‘Saints Row’ Credit: Deep Silver

Approximately 6,000 roles in the industry have been lost worldwide since the start of the year, with developers like Frontier, Telltale Games, Naughty Dog and Team17 coping with redundancies.

“I’m just concerned about what it does to the creativity urge inside of the studios, and can they keep that sort of independent creativity alive or do they just get absorbed into the larger whole?” concluded Layden on the potential impact of acquisitions.

“Time will tell, but it’s a bit concerning. When you go from hundreds of voices to dozens of voices, you lose some voices.”

Nowadays, Layden is a strategic advisor for Tencent Games, a subsidiary of Tencent Holdings which is the largest company in the video game industry based on its investments.

In other gaming news, Final Fantasy 14 producer and director Naoki Yoshida shared his desire for a Diablo crossover – “if we could just make it work then I would be so happy”.

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