Should we be paying more for games? Former Sony boss Shawn Layden seems to think that game budgets are out of control compared to what publishers charge for them. Speaking to Geamesbeat and first reported by GamesIndustry.biz, Layden heaped praise on The Last of US Part 2, a game that was developed while he was still at Sony.
Layden spoke about how the game takes about 10 hours longer to beat than the first, but also took almost twice as long to develop, which was around six years, and likely cost a lot more, too. And he pointed out both games still retailed around 60 U.S. dollars at launch.
According to Layden, the time and cost to develop triple-A titles is becoming unsustainable for the games industry. He explained that game development costs for a massive AAA title are around 80 to 150 million dollars for this generation of games. And that’s before marketing costs.
Development time could take up to five years or more. So following Shawn Layden’s logic, development costs could balloon to around $300 million dollars in the coming PS5 /Xbox Series X generation. And late in pointing out those AAA games are still retailing for 60 dollars.
He warned that gamers could see a change at the register, saying, So does that mean that we could see a price hike for games in the near future? It’s not entirely out of the question.In previous console generations, games were priced around $50 dollars or less. But now we’ve been accustomed to paying 60 for regular, no frills editions of many games. To offset the massive strain constant triple-A development could place on a studio, Layden suggested developers reconsider making more modestly-budget of games that can be played in about 15 hours, as opposed to massive 80-hour-plus games.
This could help control costs, maintain a standard retail price point, and help craft, “tighter, more compelling content.” And Layden a thing or two about game development from a developer and publisher side. He managed software development at Sony’s London studio, then became president of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan before holding the title of President and CEO of SCEA.
He served as chairman of SIE Worldwide until September 2019. So what do you think? According to Layden, the era of 4K HDR graphics isn’t coming cheap. Are you prepared to pay more for something like, say, Grand Theft Auto VI? Or do you want developers to focus on smaller games rather than pushing out AAA titles every quarter? Let us know in the comments section below.