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Former PlayStation boss Shawn Layden Believes AI Only Sees Backwards

He shared advice for developers, saying AI won't be building games for us.


Former PlayStation boss Shawn Layden has a lot of experience to have a pretty clear view of the game industry. He often shares insights, and this time, he offered advice on how to make games faster and cheaper.

Layden thinks the current rising cost of AAA game development is unsustainable, and the industry might struggle to grow. So he believes studios should make games shorter as only 32% of gamers actually finish them due to a lack of time.

"You have to really kind of strap on some free time if you're going to sit down with Red Dead Redemption 2 and get through that," he told GamesIndustry.biz.

To save time, developers should let machines do more work, so the industry needs programmers to build automation tools. While some AI can help with this, Layden doesn't think it will be building games instead of humans because it used previously created data.

"AI will be an assisting technology," he said. "Of course, you've got some large business consulting group claiming that by 2030 50% of games will all be written by AI… that is not going to happen. AI only sees in one direction, which is backwards. It puts stuff together to make you think you're seeing forward, but you're really not, you're just seeing a rehash of backward. AI is kind of like the really eager intern that you can say: 'hey give me nine pages on something' and they're like 'sure boss' and they crank it out. But you do have to fact check. AI hallucinates and goes off the rails."

He thinks it's good for summarizing and creating drafts, but he doesn't see it writing games "anytime soon."

Aside from this, Layden says companies should stop chasing photorealism: it takes too much time, effort, and money, but the majority of players don't even notice it, and we just can't avoid the uncanny valley effect

"We saw the difference between graphics on PlayStation 1 where Lara Croft is 800 polygons and, if you squint, kind-of looks like a person. And now we get to the highly realized modelling. But did it improve the gameplay? Did it improve the story?"

Finally, Layden suggests sticking to deadlines and letting go of ideas that don't work and take too long.

"Speed up proof of concept, speed up proof of tech, so you can make the hard call and say 'that's not working'. The people who continue to try to make the thing work over an extended period of time… they're thinking if we just do a little bit more we can get there, but the rest of your game is sometimes just waiting for that mechanic to be established and it's going to slow you down."

If games go back to the 2-3-year production cycle, it will be easier to set aside an idea, he believes. "In the current model, if you don't get this idea in now, there may never be a chance to get it in."

What do you think about Layden's advice? Read the full interview here and join our 80 Level Talent platform and our Telegram channel, follow us on InstagramTwitterLinkedInTikTok, and Reddit, where we share breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more.

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Comments 3

  • Anonymous user

    I think he should go back and play Tomb Raider again, to see how much the game has improved over nearly 30 years.
    He's makes a good point about development costs, but look how many AAA games we see being canceled late in development. Surely those assets could still be used even if the development has run into problems.
    What I don't understand is that these assets aren't being reused across more titles. Why are the GTA games the only games to take place in that world? A living city could be a backdrop for anything from a police procedural to a retro-style street brawler, the types of smaller games that could never justify such an expansive city as a setting.
    It really just sounds like he is calling for the end of AAA as we know it and suggesting that gamers must accept casual titles with less realism.


    Anonymous user

    ·26 days ago·
  • Anonymous user

    Dudes speaking 100% facts here, death to AAA!


    Anonymous user

    ·25 days ago·
  • Anonymous user

    Finally some words of wisdom.


    Anonymous user

    ·26 days ago·

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