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Former PlayStation chairman sees exclusivity as 'Achilles' heel' of industry, urges companies to 'get that funnel wider'

Former Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) chairman Shawn Layden addressed the challenges facing the modern games industry in a brand new interview, calling console exclusives the "Achilles' heel" of the video games landscape. 

Speaking with VentureBeat, Layden stated: "When your costs for a game exceed $200 million, exclusivity is your Achilles' heel. It reduced your addressable market. Particularly when you’re in the world of live-service gaming or free-to-play. Another platform is just another way of opening the funnel, [and] getting more people in. In a free-to-play world, as we know, 95% percent of those people will never spend a nickel. 

"The business is all about conversion," continued Layden. "You have to improve your odds by cracking the funnel open. Helldivers 2 has shown that for PlayStation, coming out on PC at the same time. Again, you get that funnel wider. You get more people in."

However, the former SIE chairman was keen to emphasize the limits of console gaming as a market. "We’re not doing enough to get heretofore non-console people into console gaming. We’re not going to attract them by doing more of [what] we’re doing now. If 95 [percent] of the world doesn’t want to play Call of Duty, Fortnite, and Grand Theft Auto, is the industry just going to make more Call of Duty, Fortnite, and Grand Theft Auto? That’s not going to get you anybody else."

For Layden, the upshot of this is that "we're just taking money from the same people. That happened during the pandemic, which made a lot of companies overinvest. Look at our numbers going up! We have to chase that rocket!"

We've already seen Xbox attempt to break the console-exclusives mold by releasing four previously Xbox-exclusive titles on PlayStation. This includes the co-op swashbuckling simulator Sea of Thieves and indie rhythm game Hi-Fi Rush.   

For now, it looks as though console exclusives are still with us. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, check out our lists of the best PS5 exclusives and the best Xbox Series X games.

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