A reader reacts to the surprise exit of the head of PlayStation and suggests his replacement must oversee major changes to succeed against Xbox.
I was surprised to read this week, of the departure of PlayStation boss Jim Ryan. He’s only been in the job for four years, and thanks to the pandemic has rarely been seen, so I assumed he would be around for a long time to come – especially as the PlayStation 5 has been an enormous success under his watch. I don’t know if he was forced out for some reason but I imagine we’ll probably never know.
From an ordinary gamer’s position, it doesn’t really matter, as he’s gone now (or at least will be gone by March) so the question now is who replaces him and what will they be like? Since we’ve seen so little of him – which is surprising given how approachable he used to be when GC used to interview him – it’s hard to know what his positions are on anything.
He obviously doesn’t like Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard but since Sony can’t afford that sort of acquisition we’ll never know if he would’ve done it if he could. We know that he likes live service games too, except maybe he’s had a change of heart recently and that’s why we still haven’t seen any? That one’s hard to say, as it’s not clear when exactly that became the next big thing at Sony – or whose idea it really was.
The one thing you can be certain of is that it was Ryan’s idea about not communicating with anyone. The lack of new reveals over the last year or more, the lacklustre State of Plays, the announcing everything through bland blog posts… those things aren’t a coincidence. That’s clearly a general policy and presumably it’s all down to Ryan, or at least someone that has his ear.
I’d love to say it’s been proven a disaster but while fans might grumble about it, it clearly hasn’t affected PlayStation 5 sales, even as we quickly reach the point at which Sony doesn’t have a single new first party game on its schedules.
So, from a business point of view, Ryan has been proven to be absolutely correct. But, and this is a big but, all that has been while Xbox has provided next to no competition. They’ve been like that for over a generation now and while Starfield may not have been the barnstorming critical success they hoped for the overall visibility and hype for the game has been extensive, with the most enthusiasm I’ve seen for an Xbox exclusive since the Xbox 360 era.
Things are only going to accelerate from here and it really doesn’t matter whether the games are good or not. As long as they look exciting in a trailer and Microsoft puts them free, day one, on Game Pass they will be a draw – especially as the sheer weight of new exclusives on Game Pass continues to increase.
Sony must have a counter to this. Ryan’s current approach will not work in the years to come and I wonder whether, ultimately, that’s why he left. Sony has to be open and communicative in the future, it has to show off its games and prove that there is a steady supply coming in the future. Things it has refused to do for years now.
If it doesn’t, if the new boss just sticks to the old plan, then I fear that PlayStation will find its market dominance quickly eroded, as happens with all businesses that refuse to change in the face of increased competition.
By reader Donzle
The reader’s features do not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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