Stop if you have heard this before: Most video games are too long.. This common feeling is affected every few months when a new box office hit with dozens of hours of “content” is released. Shawn Layden, former president of Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios, seems to agree.
“I would appreciate the return of the 12-15 hour game,” Layden, who Sony left last year after almost 32 years in the company, he told VentureBeat ‘s Dean Takahashi in an interview at this year’s GameLab conference. “I would finish more games first. Like a literary work or a well-edited movie, I’ve been looking at the discipline around it, the containment around it. It could make us tighter, more compelling content. It would be something I would like to return to. ”
In addition to the personal convenience of not having to spend a workweek’s time beating Sony’s latest exclusive or big open-world game, Layden believes that developing shorter games could also help studios contain development costs every getting older.
“The cost of creating games has increased,” Layden said. “Some studies show that it has gone up 2 times each time a generation of consoles advances. The problem with that model is that it just isn’t sustainable. “He continued:
“The top triple-A games in the current generation range from $ 80 million to $ 150 million or more to build, and that’s before marketing. It is a huge initial cost. Extended over time, it takes three or four or five years to build a game without getting any return on investment. You just keep paying and looking for the big reward in the end. I don’t think that in the next generation, I can take those numbers and multiply them by two and hope that the industry continues to grow. ”
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This conversation comes shortly after the release of The last of us part 2, a game that was in development for six years and can take between 20 and 30 hours, a substantial increase from the main campaign of approximately 15 hours of the first game. At the same time, many critics have pointed out how emotionally draining the extensive documentation of the game of torture and tragedy can feel.
In addition to the unsustainable costs Layden mentions, games like The last of us part 2 are also based on unsustainable work practices such as extended overtime. Another recent example is Red Dead Redemption 2, an extensive open-world game with more to explore and discover that any game needs to have. It was also built on the sacrifices of employees. working long days and sometimes weekends for long stretches of its development.
At the same time, most of the prices of highly successful games are stuck at $ 60 since the beginning of the generation of the PS3 console, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii.
“How can we see that and say, ‘Is there another answer?'” Layden said. “Instead of spending five years making an 80-hour game, what are three years and a 15-hour game like? What are the costs around that?
The longtime Sony executive said he was encouraged by some of the games that were shown recently at Sony’s PS5 reveal event that he didn’t focus as much on showing off new technology benchmarks. “I was also very encouraged to see a good display of independent developer power,” he said. “I want to encourage that kind of development, because we get more variety. We have a wider range of games to choose from. “