Sony has been doing quite well recently with their first-party games for the PlayStation 4 with titles like last year’s Horizon Zero Dawn and this year’s God of War. The company also has a very promising list of first-party titles for 2019. And during a talk at Gamelab in Barcelona, Sony Interactive Entertainment America President Shawn Layden talked about how the company decides the games their first-party studios make.
As reported by VentureBeat, Layden stated that the company has three criteria when it chooses to create a first-party game: “first, best, or must.” He explains that a potential title must abide by at least one of the three criteria. He goes on to explain that the company wants to games that are the first of their kind, to create genres that don’t exist yet or tap a “market that hasn’t been actualized yet.”
He adds that creating first-of-its-kind games is an obligation for the company as they want to avoid taking away opportunities from third-party publishers. He says, “because we manage the platform, it’s not to steal pieces of the pie. It’s to grow the entire pie.”
He explains the “best” criteria by referencing several of Sony’s most popular first-party franchises such as Uncharted, God of War, and Gran Turismo, saying that they’re the best titles in their respective genres. He explains, “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”
Lastly, he talks about first-party games that the company believes they “must” make even if their success isn’t as sure, such as games for the PSVR. He explains that it’s more difficult for third-party studios to invest in new platforms such as the PSVR so Sony takes on the responsibility to push the platform. He states, “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.”
According to Layden, these three criteria help the company make the right decisions for their first-party development “most of the time,” and it looks like it’s working for them as both Horizon Zero Dawn and the new God of War were received very well.