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Sony's Layden: Harassment "completely unacceptable"

SCEA's boss speaks up against harassment and notes that Sony is "best in class" when it comes to women in games

While online harassment and threats against women have been in the spotlight for months now, apart from Blizzard's Mike Morhaime we actually haven't seen as many top names in the business speaking up against it. In an interview with GamesBeat, Sony Computer Entertainment America chief Shawn Layden was asked about this.

"I think the industry has spoken with one voice on this one, through the ESA. All of us are members of that trade body, including me and Phil Spencer and Reggie [Fils-Aime] and all the big publishers," he responded at first.

When pushed, however, as to why more specific individual leaders at companies weren't saying much, Layden did condemn the wave of harassment himself. "I don't think there is one statement or one position on it, or one answer to whatever this very broadly-defined #GamerGate really means. A lot of things are getting swept into that. I'll be very clear about my view of harassment or bullying. It's completely unacceptable. Completely unacceptable. I will not be vague or equivocate about that," he said.

Layden then added that Sony is helping to do its part in a positive way by looking to women for key roles at various studios. "The question about women in the gaming industry, that's something we all take on board as individual corporations. We are best in class - or close to it, certainly - in this industry. In the development group we have Shannon Studstill, who runs our whole Santa Monica operation. She's going to bring the next big franchise out from there. We have Connie Booth, the studio head up here in San Mateo. Women executives up and down the [organization chart], and in the production teams. We make our statement just by executing to that plan," he said.

Elsewhere in the interview, Layden spoke about the PlayStation Now service hopefully growing to the point where it can be reliably used to preserve classic games. He lamented how the games industry is behind others when it comes to preserving classics.

"One of the things that we don't manage very well in our industry-You can still buy Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album. You can download it, buy a CD, buy vinyl. You can still get a copy of The Maltese Falcon on DVD or Blu-ray or some download service. But in gaming, every time we change platforms, we take this wonderful vault of IP and we put it in the garage. We never get to see it again. We're hoping that streaming technology will give us a way to fix that. We can begin to re-open those vaults of valuable IP that we've had for years and haven't found a way to get in front of the eyes of new gamers," he said.

"We're looking at all kinds of different ways to bring those benefits and values to consumers. I'm not surprised that the publishing community is also trying to develop their own," he added when questioned about EA Access.

Layden also commented on the booming free-to-play market. He doesn't expect it to become as popular on consoles, but he believes Sony's prepared. "Free-to-play is an interesting market. It's quicker to understand how that works on a mobile phone, or on tablet, because the development costs going in to build the application are different. When you bring it to a 75" TV, the development cost of creating that is pretty high. If it's completely free-to-play, you're looking at business models where 99 percent of people don't pay for anything, one percent pay for everything, and that's how you build it out. It's tricky. We're working with a lot of different developers on what's the best route to market for that," he noted.

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James Brightman avatar
James Brightman: James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.
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