Exclusivity is the gaming industry's 'Achilles' heel', says former PlayStation boss

Former PlayStation president Shawn Layden spoke about his thoughts on the modern gaming industry, noting that “exclusivity is the 'Achilles' heel' of the modern development cycle.”

In a candid interview with venturebeatLayden explained how he believes the industry has changed since he joined Sony in the 1980s, and worked his way up to become president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America in 2014. Now an advisor to companies like Tencent and Web3 Ventures, Layden was quick to detail the problems he sees in Platform exclusivity, especially as development costs continue to rise.

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“When a game costs over $200 million, exclusivity is your Achilles heel,” Layden said. “It reduces the addressable market. Especially when you're in the world of live service or free-to-play games. Another platform is just another way to open up the conversion funnel, attract more people.

“In the free-to-play world, as we know, 95 percent of these people will never spend a nickel. The whole business is about conversion. You have to improve your odds by opening up the conversion funnel. Helldivers 2 has shown that for PlayStation, it's coming to PC At the same time. Again, you get that funnel on a larger scale, and you attract more people.

Layden also dissected the potential “stranglehold” that PlayStation and other hardware developers place on themselves by making console exclusives, especially as “consumers' minds change.”

“You have to decide, at what point are you going to kill your loved ones?” Layden added. “At what point will everything that comes across your platform be affected – it's been a lucrative market for you, but consumers' minds are changing. Consumers don't buy a new mobile phone every nine months or whatever it used to be.

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“[Hardware companies] I think he won't be able to keep this throttle under control. They will have to accept a future where people build things themselves, or they come from other places. Android allows side loading. iOS does, maybe in Europe, but it needs to be more accepted. In the nature of the beast. You can't keep your grip on the market forever.”

Former EA and Microsoft executive Peter Moore also recently spoke out about the industry, noting that there are “serious questions” to be asked about video game hardware and whether or not there is a future for the traditional home console system.

Moore – who held senior roles at EA, Microsoft and Sega before leaving gaming completely to join Liverpool FC in 2017 – reflected on the losses incurred whenever there is a new generation of consoles, suggesting that both “companies and players” are asking questions About whether or not. Gamers don't “really need to spend what could be five or $600 on a dedicated piece of hardware just to play games.”

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