“PS3 was our Icarus moment.”
During his DICE 2019 keynote speech, SIE Worldwide Studios Chairman Shawn Layden discussed the lessons Sony has learned in game development, including how missteps with PlayStation 3 led to changes with PlayStation 4.
In his Beyond Generations keynote, Layden discussed the three lessons Sony has learned in game development: quality above all, embrace new ideas, and people want to play.
When discussing quality above all, Layden said “PlayStation 2 was an industry triumph, it remains one of the best-selling consoles of all time. But coming off the heels of that, was PlayStation 3: a stark moment of hubris in the nearly 25 years of PlayStation history. As we sometimes call it, PS3 was our Icarus moment.”
“For our business, the fall was sharp,” he continued. “We hadn’t listened to our customers. We created a devilish development environment. We reacted too slowly and our network was underdeveloped. And worst of all, if you remember, was the price point.”
“While the PlayStation 3 and our fight to say relevant has been well-covered, what wasn’t as well-covered was the call we made at that time to transform our company into what we are today. We doubled our efforts to develop incredible games and strengthened our partnerships for the next generation.”
“We listened to developers and gamers. We listened to this guy, Mark Cerny [PS4’s lead architect]. We created PS4, a console for developers as much as it was for fans. We focused on the quality of our games, on making titles that would stand the test of time, the way that the best pieces of art often do.”
When talking about embracing new ideas, Layden focused on Guerrilla Games and how that team went from the first-person shooter Killzone franchise to Horizon: Zero Dawn, saying “New IP isn’t always easy, but it’s always necessary.”
He also touched on PlayStation VR, saying “With VR, we’re still learning. A lot. All the time… We use terms like emersion, and sense of presence, and immersive, but the descriptors are still clumsy… It still feels experimental. But in the end, if you don’t try it, you can’t know it.”
Lastly, when discussing how people want to play, Layden praised Microsoft’s efforts with the Xbox Adaptive Controller. He also mentioned how Sony’s own developer Naughty Dog has opened the door with various accessibility modes, and that Sony is looking to build accessibility options into all of its games.
In the same speech, Layden spoke of Nintendo, saying that people should “never underestimate Nintendo” and that “All of us are better for their efforts.” Ultimately, Nintendo Switch was the best-selling console of 2018 in the U.S., edging out PlayStation 4.
Colin Stevens is a news writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.