Former PlayStation boss discusses 'existential crisis' of console gaming

Former PlayStation boss Shawn Layden discusses why the expectation of compounding generational growth is the 'existential crisis' of console gaming.

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Is console gaming hurdling towards ruin? Former PlayStation chairman Shawn Layden gives a frank answer on the current state of play with the traditional nexus of Big 3 hardware.

Former PlayStation boss discusses 'existential crisis' of console gaming 1

In terms of revenues, console gaming is still doing quite well. But hardware uptake is slowing compared to previous generations; gamers are buying fewer PlayStations and Xbox's during the Gen9 console cycle, and a significant portion of PlayStation gamers are still on the PS4 (the Nintendo Switch, however, is doing exceptionally well with its mid-generation cycle).

Even through yesterday's COVID boom and today's recession-driven market, the age-old question has remained: Is console gaming in trouble? In a recent interview with IGN, former PlayStation boss Shawn Layden shares his candid thoughts on the existential threat to consoles--the expectation of continued, compounding growth.

When asked with that particular doom-and-gloom inquiry, 'are video game consoles in trouble,' Layden had this to say:

"It isn't trouble, but it's not a new thing.

"If you look at the history of consoles, from PS1 to PS5 and everything associated in those verticals, the global install base in any one of those generations never got over about 250 million. No matter how you rack it up. There's at one point in time when the Wii came out, and thanks to Wii Fit, an extra like 20 million units got sold because everyone thought they could lose weight.

"But that wasn't sustainable, and that came crashing down. And we're still kind of in the 250 million overall install base of active consoles. I think that's a challenge. We've managed to do a lot over time, and during the pandemic, revenues went up 20-25%, but it was still just getting more money from the same people. It wasn't necessarily bringing new people into the console gaming world.

"So I think that's the existential threat to gaming right now: How do you break out of that glass ceiling?"

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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