Former Sony Executive Shawn Layden spoke to GamesIndustry.biz about the sustainability of the video game industry, and how the industry should re-evaluate the current AAA model for bigger and more expensive games.
In the interview, he spoke about how development length and costs have gone up exponentially, with games also becoming longer in order to keep consumers satisfied. He uses The Last of Us as an example. It took Naughty Dog three and a half years to make the first game and somebody could complete it in around 15 hours. The Last of Us Part II, however, took six years to develop, and the game is around 25-hours long.
The cost of developing the AAA Games basically doubles every generation according to a well-known theory, with games currently costing between $80 million to 150 million to make in around five years.
The problem with that model is it’s just not sustainable. 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 expectation? What is the best way to get our story across, and say what we need to say?
He also mentioned that in the 25 years that he has been part of the industry, the cost of a game has not gone up from $59.99, while the cost of making it did. The buyer, according to Layden is very sensitive to that price point changing and because of that, the current AAA model is unsustainable.