Former PlayStation boss reveals he left company to avoid burnout

Shawn Layden previously called AAA development unsustainable

Shawn Layden, the former president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) America and chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios, has revealed why he left PlayStation after working at Sony for 32 years.

PlayStation announced Layden’s departure back in September 2019, although no reason was given by either the company or himself.

In an interview with Bloomberg, he finally revealed that he left to avoid burnout, having already launched six consoles during his time at Sony.

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“It’s a young person’s activity,” Layden said. “I felt: This is a good time to put the pin in my legacy.”

He noted that after overseeing the platform’s highest rated games of the last decade, including Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War, “That seemed like a good time to step off on top and allow another generation to take the PlayStation 5 to market.”

God Of War
God Of War. Credit: Santa Monica Studio

The article hints at speculation over a power struggle between Layden and current Sony president Jim Ryan, although Layden doesn’t comment on this, only adding, “I think I took my time at the moment I saw best to take it, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Last year, Layden spoke at a digital version of Gamelab Live, where he told his audience that the current AAA game development is “just not sustainable”.

He compared the spiraling development costs to how retail game prices have remained unchanged for the last 25 years. “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.”

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In the same interview, he also expressed an interest in shorter games, not only because of how longer run-times factor into higher development cost but also that, like other “well-edited” media, it would allow for “tighter, more compelling content.”

For more PlayStation-related news, fans can look forward to the PlayStation Showcase 2021, broadcasting next week on September 9.

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