Most success stories don’t always go smooth sailing. Take Shawn Layden, the CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, and his journey rising up through the ranks at Sony. When it appeared he could do no wrong, the PlayStation 3 appeared like a grill-shaped roadblock in the freewheeling lane. Now, for the first time, Layden has laid bare his reaction to the failings of the console, even going as far as comparing it to a Greek tragedy (no, not Kratos. For once.)
Speaking at the Gamelab event in Barcelona alongside long-time colleague Mark Cerny, the conversation soon turned to a period in time that was sure to stick in the craw of Layden: the PlayStation 3’s launch. Dogged by an obscene price tag and lacklustre day-one titles, the PS3 never really recovered from its stumble out of the starting gates, and Layden concurs.
“Sometimes you can go back and look at it and say that was our Icarus moment. We flew too close to the sun. We took a bit of a dip in the business, to say the least, during the PlayStation 3 era. Only finally fighting it out to parity with Xbox 360 by the end of the life cycle,” Layden explains.
But, as we all know, the story doesn’t end there. Lessons were learned before the PS4 launched. So much so that Layden feels it “is a story of redemption. I think we came back. We had the right hardware specs, thank you very much. And we had good support from our partners. I think we got back to our basis of PlayStation being a people’s platform.”
At the very least, it’s nice to see Layden so transparent about mistakes that were made and how they were then able to steady themselves as they reached a new console generation. It begs the question: what lessons will the PS5 take from the current generation?