Sony has a crucial decision to make after Jim Ryan’s retirement | Opinion

Sony has a crucial decision to make after Jim Ryan’s retirement | Opinion

Should Sony find someone new to take PlayStation into uncharted waters?

Jim Ryan’s retirement from PlayStation was not entirely unexpected.

Through various interviews in recent years, he’s spoken about the challenges of living in the UK and working in the US. He’s also coming up to five years in the role of CEO, which is around the point Sony likes to start moving its leadership on.

Choosing his successor, however, is going to be quite the challenge.

Ryan may not quite have the PR sparkle of Andrew House, or the gamer credentials of Phil Spencer, but he is a PlayStation man through and through. He was there at the beginning, setting up PlayStation’s European offices – going as far as popping to IKEA to buy office furniture. And talk to him about games, and he’ll reminisce about obscure PS1 titles (Jumping Flash, anyone?) and his love for Ratchet & Clank. He has also been there at the launch of every major PlayStation release from the last 30 years. He knows the brand better than just about anyone.

People internally, at least the ones I have spoken to, were clearly very fond of him. He was ‘uncle Jim’ to some in the UK office. Andrew House once described him as PlayStation’s secret weapon, and he was called a ‘hero’ by former PlayStation exec Shahid Ahmed in a keynote talk back in April.

« The industry is changing and Ryan leaves PlayStation as the business is looking to react to this change »

So the question for Sony’s leadership is do you find someone new to take the PlayStation business forward? Or continue that legacy of promoting internally, and ensuring you have someone in place who instinctively understands the brand and what makes it popular?

It’s not an especially easy thing to answer. The industry is changing rapidly in terms of how games are monetised and distributed. Ryan leaves PlayStation as the business is looking to react to this change. The division is pushing hard into live service games, while developing its PC and mobile games business. These are things somewhat out of the company’s comfort zone, which is why it’s been making strategic acquisitions, such as Bungie, to help it achieve its goals.

So when you look for a new leader, would it perhaps make sense to bring in someone with a track record in live service and mobile, rather than an established PlayStation person whose primary experience has been launching major single-player AAA games and dedicated hardware? I am not sure what the right answer to that is.

On top of that, whoever takes charge of PlayStation is going to have to navigate an extremely competitive landscape, with major corporations spending huge sums of money to get a foothold in games. And not just from Xbox and its acquisitions, but also from non-endemics likes of Amazon and Netflix. None of these businesses pose an immediate problem for Sony, but if they maintain their level of investment in video games, they may well become one.

The other decision for Sony to make is what sort of CEO do they want to run PlayStation. Ryan came from a sales and marketing background, and that clearly worked. But there is something to be said for a leader with strong development credentials, too.

Ryan ultimately leaves PlayStation in a strong position. It’s the console market leader and growing its share with each passing month. Its global reach its expanding, and its games are continuing to win awards and break sales records. Whoever takes charge from here will be inheriting a company in an enviable position.

But there is change on the horizon. And Sony’s senior leadership team will want to have that in mind when it comes to deciding who and what comes next.

Read More

Laisser un commentaire

Your email address will not be published.