Shawn Layden, a prime mover in the PlayStation realm during his tenure as PlayStation Studios chairman, has recently voiced critique on the gaming industry's lackadaisical stance toward video game preservation. Layden, whose foresight regarding industry trends and challenges have often proved accurate, shared his perspective on a recent episode of the Lan Parties podcast.
Looming at the forefront of his concerns is the importance of safeguarding the numerous innovations and gaming experiences that the video game industry generates. He stressed that the industry must learn to view its products as more than temporary commodities. Instead, Layden insists, the video games that are created should endure through the years, not just for the sake of their makers, but for the enjoyment and appreciation of future generations.
He lamented, “Preservation is important. I’m hoping that more people in the industry, certainly the big players, begin to realize that there’s an obligation and responsibility. This isn’t throw-away stuff we’re making. This is stuff that should be around for a long time because future generations will enjoy it in the same way that we have, and it’s criminal that we’re not doing more to protect it.”
The call for better preservation efforts comes as more and more AAA games, such as the recently released Alan Wake 2, are abandoning physical releases in favor of launching digitally. As the digital trend continues to grow, the importance of well-planned, comprehensive preservation efforts will only increase. Layden hopes that his words will inspire the powers-that-be to take this issue more seriously and to double down on efforts to preserve the gaming experiences they're creating today for future gamers.
One of Layden's previous predictions about the rise of AAA games’ cost and the potential dangers of industry consolidation are now becoming reality, adding more weight to his warning about the need for preservation. His foresight and industry intuition serve to highlight the urgent nature of the issues he raises.
Currently, the efforts of Sony's Preservation team fall short of expectations, but Layden's call-to-arms could be the catapult to expand and strengthen these efforts. While he's no longer directly influencing decisions at PlayStation, his words carry significant potency, especially given his extensive experience in the industry.
From his standpoint, the obligation to preserve extends beyond the current industry revenues and toward a broader view that doesn't forget the historical and cultural significance of these games. Putting this narrative at the forefront of industry concerns calls for the recognition of video games as a form of interactive art and storytelling, one that deserves to be meticulously preserved for the appreciation and study by future generations.
Layden's message is a rallying cry for an industry known for innovation and evolution. It comes at a critical juncture where advancements in technology have enabled developers to create gaming experiences that push the boundaries of what's possible. As history has shown us in other entertainment mediums, the lack of preservation efforts can lead to priceless loss and regrets in the future. Heeding his advice now may spare the industry from similar heartaches down the line and keep the gaming landscape rich and diverse for future players. Until changes are made, the conversation surrounding the urgency of video game preservation continues.
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