Sony’s first-party output has been very strong since the PlayStation 3 days, but thanks to the success of the PlayStation 4, it’s starting to see the commercial rewards. And speaking as part of a Game Lab panel in Spain this week, exec Shawn Layden outlined the organisation's “first, best, must” mantra, which is the philosophy it adopts when greenlighting exclusives.
“First means creating a first of its kind game — a genre that doesn’t exist, a market that hasn’t been actualised yet,” he said. “Will your game do that?” A good example of this type of title in the platform holder’s current portfolio would be Dreams – or perhaps even Death Stranding, depending upon what it actually is. Layden cited Concrete Genie as another such project.
“Best is probably the easiest one to explain,” he continued. “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 favourite golf game. You must be the best in class.”
So what is the ‘must’ category all about, then? “There are some games we must do, even if initially the profitability might be hard to make,” he added. “For example, an easy one for that is PlayStation VR 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.”
The one major takeaway from Layden’s comments is that Sony isn’t interested in stealing sales away from third-parties; the company wants to expand the spectrum of experiences on PlayStation, rather than double-down in categories already well serviced. “We’re not here to create games that steal market share from other publishers,” he concluded.