REPORT: Shawn Layden Left PlayStation Over “ Heated” EyePet 3 Funding Argument
Overheard by one of our reporters in the bathroom next to the McDonald’s in JFK’s Terminal 4, Shawn Layden, former Chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios, spoke candidly to the man using the urinal to his right. “I was fighting incredibly hard for that little creature. Jim wasn’t having any of it. He said to me, ‘Shawn, you either drop the gremlin monkey or we’re done here. I’m not giving another cent to that primate bastardization,’ so I left.”
The “Jim” mentioned in Layden’s conversation is assumed to be Jim Ryan, the current CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment. Layden’s silence following his departure from PlayStation was deafening. Many media sources speculated that there was a conflict between Ryan and Layden leaving to the latter’s resignation. Now we have the catalyst for the split, EyePet 3.
EyePet, developed by Sony’s London Studio, was meant to showcase the promise of the PlayStation Eye accessory. In the game, players adopted their own fuzzy eldritch creature and would be able to see him placed in their own room using AR technology. The titular character, EyePet, could be played with, dressed up in clothes, and generally used as a terrifying, mess free alternative to a real dog. A sequel, Eyepet & Friends, was released in 2011 and that was the last time audiences saw the character. Layden had other plans.
Shawn Layden had always been connected deeply to the EyePet IP. When the game was first announced, Layden described the title as “a dream come true.” Anonymous developers from London Studio responded to our ask for comment with, “Shawn was always in the studio during EyePet’s development. He would enter the play testing room and ask everyone else to leave, but that they also left EyePet on screen, ready to be played with.” The developers claim Layden would say, “It only does everything,” when asked about his feelings on the title.
“Maybe the EyePet reminded him of better times in college, when you could do nothing all day except trip acid and play with a small creature dressed in a pink cardigan. I think it made him relax,” said a developer.
It’s no small wonder that the reason for Layden’s split from PlayStation was over the funding of EyePet 3. Emails shared with us show Layden reaching out to Jim Ryan saying, “I need my friend back, Jim. He’s stranded in 1080i on the XMB bar, and I NEED HIM BACK.” Ryan allegedly denied any funds for the development of a new title responding, “Shawn, you know I’m allergic and that ‘thing’ is in no way hypoallergenic.”
It’s sad to see Layden go, but at least loyal PlayStation fans finally have their answer and to know he fought for the players.