The former head of PlayStation Shawn Layden has addressed the reason why many game companies, including, Sony focus on things like sequels, remasters, and remakes instead of original IP. Over the last decade, many companies like Activision and PlayStation have abandoned the idea of pursuing original franchises in favor of dependable annualized franchises and countless sequels. In large part, Layden chalks it up to the ever-growing cost of game development.
Although Sony has taken some chances on new franchises, it usually comes from its most established teams and even then, the game needs to meet a high bar in terms of sales and review scores. It seems games like The Order 1886 just don’t cut it these days, given the expensive nature of game development. With many of Sony’s upcoming first-party titles like Horizon Forbidden West being sequels and remasters, many wonder if the days of frequent original IP are dead.
Ex-PlayStation head Shawn Layden discussed the matter in an interview with Bloomberg, noting the rising costs of game development. According to Layden, game development “seems to double in cost every platform“, saying PS4 games cost about $100 million to make and he estimates PS5 games are about $200 million. Plus, that’s expected to grow more going forward. With that said, it’s harder for big game studios to justify spending that much on unproven games. “If we can’t stop the cost curve from going up, all we can do is try to de-risk it. That puts you in a place where you’re incentivized toward sequels,” said Layden.
Days Gone was recently denied a sequel, despite selling relatively well. Reports suggested Sony rejected Bend’s pitch for a sequel due to the lengthy development of the first game and a lukewarm reception from critics. Still, fans are hopeful that the developer will get to return to the series at some point. The developer was reportedly working on a new Uncharted game but is expected to be making a new IP once again now.
Although studios are still developing new IPs, it’s much easier to rely on franchises people already know and have shown interest in buying. Given the time and money it takes to produce these games, Sony is unlikely to be willing to spend $200 million on a new IP that could be a total bomb. Instead, there’s more of an incentive to make a remake of The Last of Us for a new generation of PlayStation consoles. Whether or not the industry finds a way to make costs more sustainable remains to be seen, but as of right now, fans should expect publishers to double down on established franchises.