Sony’s Worldwide Studios consist of a ‘baker’s dozen’ of some of the most talented game development studios around. Offering gamers experiences such as God of War to Horizon Zero Dawn, to their PlayStation VR games, all the way to future upcoming titles like Dreams and Ghost of Tsushima, they have something every gamer can enjoy, only on PlayStation.
Being such a passionate PlayStation fan, I’ve often wondered exactly how when presented with major ideas from their teams, which projects are ultimately given the green-light or not.
During the Gamelabs event in Barcalona, CEO of SIE WWS, Shawn Layden took the time to explain PlayStation’s selection process for choosing their next major titles. Three different factors come into play: First, Best, or Must.
First, best, or must. The game you’re working on has to fulfill at least one of the criteria, preferably too. First means creating a first of its kind game — a genre that doesn’t exist, a market that hasn’t been actualized yet. Will your game do that?
That’s an obligation for us as first-party development. We’re not here to create games that steal market share from other publishers. Because we manage the platform, it’s not to steal pieces of the pie. It’s to grow the entire pie. If you create a new genre like Parappa the Rapper did — rhythm action gaming, who know that would be a genre? Or SingStar, bringing in a microphone to your living room? And soon coming out of our studios, a game called Concrete Genie, a new form of entertainment we haven’t seen before. If you can fulfill that, at a Worldwide Studios studios level we’re interested in that project.
Best is probably the easiest one to explain. If you’re best, it means if you’re making an action-adventure, you’re making Uncharted or God of War. If you’re making a racing game, you’re making Gran Turismo. Or a golf game, Everybody’s Golf, my favorite golf game. You must be the best in class. If someone came up with a plan, did all the spreadsheets, and said, “Shawn, this is going to make money for us and it’s going to be the fourth-best racing game ever,” I’m not interested in doing the fourth-best anything. That wouldn’t be something we’d get behind.
Must is probably the other thing that reflects our position as first-party development attached to the platform. There are some games we must do, even if initially the profitability might be hard to make. For example, an easy one for that is PSVR games. When you’re trying to grow the PSVR installed base, how many units are in homes, it’s difficult for some third parties to look at that addressable market and get the business to work for them. But we need games to move the platform. It’s a chicken and egg thing. So at Worldwide Studios we took on a number of PSVR projects in order to support the launch of that platform and getting it off the ground.
So first, best, and must. We look at all of our games through that lens. It helps us make the right decisions, most of the time.
There you have it! While I don’t agree with everything Shawn says (Gran Turismo is not the best racing series around anymore, but that’s a story for another day), their selection process is ultimately about making a profit, it also still gives their studios the freedom to create a game like Dreams and Concrete Genie. Or the opportunity to take the God of War formula and turn it on its head. I look forward to what’s next from many of the major Worldwide Studios!
What do you think, Brah? Let us know in the comments below.