Sony Interactive Entertainment chairman Shawn Layden praised the growth of the video-game industry during his opening keynote address at the D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
“This used to be almost a secret activity,” Layden said before highlighting revenue growth over the past decade that pushed the industry north of $35 billion in the U.S. last year. “The standard used to be making a game to follow a movie, but now we see the games we make transcending the medium,” he said.
Layden heads Sony’s 13 studios and has been outspoken recently as to the company’s decision to skip this year’s E3 convention in Los Angeles, telling CNET on Monday that the June event is “just too late to have a Christmas holiday discussion with retailers.” Instead, Sony opted instead for its own closed event, Destination PlayStation, happening this month, where third-party developers and retailers will gather to hear the company’s plan for the year.
During his keynote speech, Layden touted his company’s main competitors: Nintendo and Microsoft. Noting that the best-selling console last year was Nintendo’s Switch, not his company’s PlayStation 4, Layden said, “Never underestimate Nintendo.”
Sony did have a big year in 2018, however, passing 91 million units sold for its PlayStation 4 console. Additionally, the PS4 title Marvel’s Spider-Man delivered the best sales of any exclusive game on the console (9 million), while Sony Santa Monica’s God of War posted the fourth-best performance (5 million).
The PS4 is a major financial success, but it follows the underperformance of the company’s last console. Layden acknowledged the “stark moment of hubris” of the PlayStation 3’s disappointing performance, calling it the company’s “Icarus moment.” With the PS4, Layden said the company is focused on “games that would stand the test of time.”
To accomplish that, Layden stressed the importance of developing new titles. “New IP isn’t always easy, but it’s always necessary,” he said.
On the virtual reality front, Layden admitted that Sony is “still learning” but was optimistic that titles like Astro Bot Rescue Mission and other future projects would elevate VR gaming.
Layden also stressed inclusiveness in gaming, noting Sony’s Girls Makes Games program, which invites young girls to PlayStation’s campus for a game development “summer camp.” He also congratulated Microsoft for its adaptive controller and strides made across the industry to make games more accessible for players with disabilities.
“We must ensure that everyone can play,” said Layden.
In closing, Layden highlighted the creativity in the games industry as a whole. “We don’t create to compete. We make art,” he said. “Art is creative, not competitive.”