Over the last few years especially, PlayStation as a company has been difficult to read. Sony’s video game arm has adopted a secretive strategy ever since it launched the PS5, and so any degree of insight that we get into PlayStation’s inner workings is always interesting. And this is where Shawne Benson enters the equation — PlayStation’s global head of third party portfolio and acquisitions.
Essentially, Benson and her team are responsible for scouting third party projects and striking exclusive deals. The division also plays a big part in providing development support for chosen projects — helping studios better utilise things like DualSense functionality and PS5 hardware.
In a new interview with Boardroom, Benson reveals that her core team is made up of just 11 people, although it “works very closely with the third party relations team”. There’s also a “huge group of account management team members that do the day-to-day relationship management with all the creators”. All told, it sounds like a sizable workforce — which makes sense when you consider how many projects PlayStation must be keeping an eye on.
Providing further details into her typical responsibilities, Benson says: “A lot of meetings. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of travel, basically going around the world and meeting with partners in their studios, getting my hands on their games, and going to trade shows.”
She continues: “In those meetings with partners, it’s not just talking about whether a game is good but does it really resonate with our PlayStation brand? Would this be a good fit for PlayStation?”
Following various playtests and additional looks at a specific game, Benson says “we put together our analysis and run our due diligence process, which is similar to what investment firms would do for a company, but we’re doing it for a game. So I mean, we’re not doing the Q&A: the quality assurance process necessarily, but we absolutely are getting looks at the game throughout the development journey.”
And it’s a process that clearly works, because Benson’s been behind some impressive third party success stories. Her team’s portfolio includes Stray, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Deathloop, Baldur’s Gate 3, Final Fantasy 16, Resident Evil Village, Tetris Effect, and Sifu. It’s safe to say that PlayStation knows quality when it sees it!
“For PlayStation, I think about the audience and where we are in the life cycle of the platform. we’re looking at how those games will resonate and be the best place to play, not only for our existing users but also for players that we want to reach,” Benson concludes.