Shawn Layden Sees An Opportunity In The COVID-19 Crisis

According to Shawn Layden, the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to build a better industry.

“If we don’t take something positive from this extended period of quarantine, we’ve really squandered the opportunity”


The former head of PlayStation Worldwide Studios said the memory of the pre-virus gaming industry is now just a relic of a bygone era frozen in amber, suggesting companies seize the opportunity now and build better work environments.

As told on Gamelab Live last week, Layden sees the epidemic as an “important and interesting” period for the gaming industry. In an interview, he told journalist Dean Takahashi that the quarantine has “changed the way of life — it has changed the way of work, certainly.”


Layden left Sony last October, several months before the virus swept the globe, thoroughly subverting all sorts of businesses. PlayStation Worldwide Studios employed 2,600 people at the time, and the former boss was just amazed at how challenging it could have been to move so many people into home office work.


“There has to be a host of challenges around it. I’m heartened to see that the team has found ways to get through that – certainly, the delivery of The Last of Us Part 2 has shown that you can finish off a game remotely.”


There are moments when development can run into difficulties, Layden pointed out, especially during the initial brainstorming when a large team is working together during a longer collaboration. It’s difficult to replicate with Zoom calls.

„However, with the industry forced to create answers to the majority of the biggest questions, it will not be in a position to demand a return to its old practices even if it were possible to do so.”


“This is an opportunity, as we change our way of life and our way of work, to look at what it is we want to come back to,” said Layden, who is currently on a sabbatical from his career. “People use the phrase: When are we going to get back to normal? As if normal is getting back to 2019. That world is gone. That world is now sealed in amber. Everything pre-virus is now a historical artifact that we can explore and look at and still take lessons from, but there’s no getting back to that.”


According to Shawn Layden, people have re-evaluated their relationship to work. I think after people have tasted this kind of work now, it’s unexpectable from them to crave back to the office again for 80-90 hours a week.


„…And then come home, and try to recover over the weekend, and then go back into it. The pace of life is slowing down, and I think that’s no bad thing.”

“If we don’t take something positive from this extended period of quarantine, we’ve really squandered the opportunity.”

According to Layden, the impact of COVID-19 may be so great that looking back, this period will be considered the beginning of the true 21st century and the end of 20th-century thinking.

He thinks man has figured out how to work smarter and more efficiently, not longer. According to him, this will be felt especially in the game industry.

Layden has also responded to protests and uprisings around the world at Takahashi’s request, and what he has to say is very important:

„You don’t grow a business by having the same people in a room making the same game… You won’t grow the audience [with] that. We need new and different things.”

“…all of the harm and hurt that’s been done from a position of intolerance. We need to break that chain.”


Shawn Layden worked for Sony for 32 years, retiring in 2019.

Source: GamesIndustry

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Praesagus is a Role-Playing enthusiast and a huge fan of most story-driven games. He's also a diehard fan of everything related to Star Wars, Star Trek, or Fallout and likes to divide his free time between his beloved girlfriend and the retro games he loves so much.

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