Over the last few years, Microsoft and Sony have acquired multiple developers to expand their own consolidated spheres of gaming productions through Xbox Game Studios and PlayStation Studios respectively.
During their attempts to strengthen next-gen exclusive content and beyond, a former Sony boss views this strategy as a danger to the gaming industry.
Sony And Microsoft's Studio Acquisitions Are "The Enemy Of Diversity", Says Former Sony Boss
After leaving Sony nearly two years ago, former Sony Worldwide Studios Chairman, Shawn Layden spoke to Games Industry about his perspective on industry consolidation.
Layden highlighted how more money is being spent on developing games than ever before:
With each console generation, the cost of games goes up 2x. So PS4 games were $100 to $150m, so it stands to reason that PS5 games -- when they hit their stride -- will be in excess of $200m. It's going to be very difficult for more than a handful of large players to compete in that space.
To counteract this, consolidation has been prioritized in order to sustain the constant production of video games:
During that time we have also seen more consolidation. Consolidation is the enemy of diversity in some ways. It takes a lot of playing pieces off the table as they grow into these larger conglomerates. And again, we end up with this problem with diversity.
Layden discusses how consolidation is painting developers into a corner, which in turn causes the same people to produce the same games, which harms creativity in story-telling:
Music on a revenue basis is probably one fifth of the games space. But their cultural impact is 100x what gaming is. Right now, we are narrowing ourselves down into genres and sequels and certain types of games. Favourites like my own, like Parappa and Vib-Ribbon, those things don't seem to get a chance to come out on stage. That's bad for the industry and for fans. Over time, that leads to a crumbling of the games industry if we just keep talking to the same people and telling the same stories in the same way.
With Microsoft's historic acquisition of Bethesda and Sony's expansion through Returnal developer's Housemarque, and rumoured procurement of Bluepoint Games, it seems like consolidation will continue as we traverse through next-gen. But whether Layden's worries will end up being a reality, we will wait and see.