Gaming Guru Shawn Layden Unveils Key Insights on Overcoming Industry Challenges

By Quincy Cahilig

Mar 08, 2024 05:02 PM EST

Shawn Layden, a gaming industry expert and AAA game executive, presently advises Tencent Games, Streamline Media Group, and Readygg.

In a tough period in the video game industry, Layden's experience as the former Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios head is important. Cracks appeared in 2022 after a pandemic-driven video game boom, deteriorating over time. According to Polygon, the video game sector layoffs rose to 10,500 in 2023 from 8,500 in 2022. Layoffs rose to 6,000 in the first 90 days of 2024.

Layden, a new Readygg adviser, highlighted gaming industry issues in an interview with GamesBeat. The conversation discussed AI in gaming, blockchain's role, market stagnation, mass layoffs, innovation, cost reduction, and structural changes in the gaming scene.

The former Sony PlayStation president tackled the need to adapt to new technologies and research blockchain's potential to help creators and publishers resell digital games and increase income. The expert also stressed market growth in the game industry's future, especially given rising development expenses.

SIE Worldwide Studios Chairman Shawn Layden speaks onstage at the PlayStation E3 2018 Media Showcase at LA Center Studios on June 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo : Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC) 

Exclusivity is Not Always Good for Business

Shawn Layden pointed out the need to entic new console gamers and the limits of exclusivity in a growing industry. "When your costs for a game exceed $200 million, exclusivity is your Achilles' heel. It reduces your addressable market," the expert noted.

The conversation touched upon the common trend observed in free-to-play games, where a significant majority, approximately 95% of players, opt not to make any in-game purchases. Layden emphasized the crucial role that the remaining 5% played, particularly the group known as "whales," which significantly increased the profitability of the entire gaming ecosystem. These whales, representing a small percentage of users, tend to purchase a wide range of in-game items, compensating for the non-paying user base and creating a vibrant multiplayer experience.

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Transitioning to blockchain games, Layden expressed his initial observations about the entry of crypto enthusiasts, often characterized as crypto-rich individuals, into the gaming space. Acknowledging that early blockchain games succeeded with a limited user base of 50,000 to 100,000 users, he criticized the strategy of counting on whales to propel blockchain games to mainstream success. Drawing an analogy, he likened this approach to relying on a hurricane to deliver a bounty of fish for fishing.

Developers Must Focus More on Developing Fun Games

Layden argued that entering the game sector to monetize blockchain is an awful plan and noted that game makers should focus on producing engaging and fun games rather than relying on new monetization strategies.

"You can't build a game based on-the core meaning of your game can't be leveraging a new monetization technology. From a gamer's perspective, why should I play that game? How is it fun? If it's not fun, I don't care," he remarked.

Layden additionally favored strategic blockchain engineers who consider how smart contract technology, a uniform ledger, and transparent transactions may improve games. He stressed that every successful game's attractiveness to players is its base, regardless of blockchain or crypto applications. 

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