Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan talks PS5 and global presence

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PlayStation faces challenges but has a plan to keep its success going.

What you need to know

  • Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan held an interview with GamesIndustry.biz.
  • In the interview, Ryan highlighted parts of the PlayStation business that were being focused on.
  • Ryan also talked about the global presence of PlayStation and how it feeds into the PlayStation 5.

Over the past couple of years, while PlayStation has found major success, there have also been concerns raised, including regarding how the company handles independent developers, as well as layoffs across divisions as the company reorganizes. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Sony CEO Jim Ryan addresses some of these issues, talking about the PlayStation brand’s global presence, what things look like heading into the PlayStation 5 and how Sony intends to transfer the audience over.

Ryan addresses how PlayStation plans to carry its success forward, saying “As we move towards the next-generation in 2020, one of our tasks — probably our main task — is to take that community and transition it from PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5, and at a scale and pace that we’ve never delivered on before.”

He continued by saying “If we are to be successful, we really have to leverage the opportunities that globalisation brings. I am going to give you some examples. One is around the productisation of PlayStation 5, the definition of the feature set, of the development and the implementation of those features. That process, this time around, has been massively more streamlined compared to anything we’ve done in the past. The product planners are now having one conversation instead of three different regional conversations, where they needed to reconcile positions that were often conflicting or contradictory, with an endless process of iteration and consensus. That’s not happening anymore. We have one conversation and we get on and do stuff.”

There have been major changes at PlayStation over the last year, from the leadership shake-ups to the way services work. Shawn Layden, Chairman of Sony Worldwide Studios, left and as yet has not been replaced. Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Worldwide Studios, is leaving his position and will be taking a new role to work closely with independent developers and maintain these relationships with Sony. Hermen Hulst, co-founder of Guerrilla Games, has been promoted and is now Head of Sony Worldwide Studios.

PlayStation Now is another major area of focus for PlayStation right now, adding much bigger games like God of War for a limited time. Still, despite exploring this more strongly and noting that subscribers increased to a million after the recent additions, PlayStation won’t be putting its games on PlayStation Now day and date, at least not yet. “It’s an area that is fast changing and fluid,” says Ryan. “The nature and scale of some of the first-party games that we are making leads us to think that, right now, it’s better to spend energy on making sure that the launch of those games is a massive entertainment event. I would cite God of War and Spider-Man, and The Last of Us 2 next year will fall into that category.”

Ryan continued his thoughts on PlayStation Now by saying “That’s where we stand right now. But our stance on the inclusion of first-party games in PlayStation Now in terms of what we’ve done this month is very different to our stance 12 months ago. I don’t want to say this is what PlayStation Now is going to be like forever. But certainly right now, given how some of our first party IP is incredibly special and valuable, we just want to treat them with amazing care and respect, and have those launches be clean and pure.”

Ryan finished the interview with some thoughts on acquiring new development studios. Sony announced the acquisition of Insomniac Games just a couple of months ago and may yet acquire more however, you shouldn’t expect the company to go on a spending spree.

“We are always looking, but we are careful about who we look at and talk to. Buying studios right now is a very expensive undertaking. It is most definitely a seller’s market. There is room for us to do more in that area, but we have to make sure that the company is right. The integration side of things… which is a boring business thing to talk about, but the world is littered with illustrations of that going catastrophically wrong post-acquisition,” Ryan says. “So we have to have confidence around that. It has to sit well with our portfolio. It’s a very different world to the one when we acquired Guerrilla in 2005. You need to exercise a great deal of attention.”

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