PlayStation has seen a lot of departures and shake-ups at the executive level recently, including [...]
The departure of Worldwide Studios chairman was announced with little fanfare and one third-party source tells GameDaily recent PlayStation globalization is 'exponentially exacerbating' next-gen transition.
Layden's departure is just one internal executive shakeup at Sony Interactive Entertainment. SIE Japan-Asia president and SIE Japan director Atsushi Morita has departed his roles effective immediately, according to a tweet from the Wall Street Journal’s Takashi Mochizuki. SIE CFO Kazuhiko Takeda will take over as president of SIEJA, although a replacement has yet to be announced for Morita’s role as director of SIEJ. It’s worth noting that, as pointed out by Mochizuki, Morita was at the age (60) where the Japanese workforce tends to retire anyway.
Layden’s exit comes at a time of transitional upheaval, and not just with the next-gen PlayStation 5 looming. There's also the possibility of an internal power struggle, which appears to stem from a corporate restructure back in April 2018, which is when Sony Interactive Entertainment truly went global.
At that time, Sony announced a reshuffle that saw then-PlayStation president John Kodera take control of the Americas and Japan/Asia. Deputy president Jim Ryan assumed responsibility for Europe. Additionally, all sales and marketing divisions within America, Europe, and Japan-Asia were to report to Ryan. Meanwhile, Layden was to “concentrate his focus on WWS continuing to provide platform-defining content that helps drive the growth of SIE.” WWS is regarded as a side project, albeit a significant one, within the bigger picture of SIE management. Ryan and Kodera run the bulk of the operation, with Layden's position as chairman created specifically with him in mind.
The biggest issue in merging SIEA, SIEE, and SIEJA is the cavernous difference in product marketplaces. Marketing a product in the North/South American markets is vastly different than doing so in Europe. And neither aligns with how sales work in Japan and Asia.. Suddenly, three teams were working on the same thing without much clarity in reporting structure. This has created chaos, as SIE adjusted to a global mindset. Additionally, Sony reorganization typically impacts senior vice president level and higher, with lower level employees facing a “rolling restructure” as higher-ups figure things out how to manage shifting teams on the fly.
As the perceived power struggle between Ryan and Layden comes to a head,, it’s starting to affect the upcoming next-gen transition. An employee at a major third-party publisher with direct knowledge of the situation has told GameDaily the confusion resulting from the global reorganization has made the switch, already difficult as is, even more concerning.
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, GameDaily's source relayed what their company is facing.
"This is the least amount of clarity we've ever had on a new console this close to transition,” the source said. “I believe that the [global restructuring] is exponentially exacerbating the already difficult process of transitioning to a new generation. And now we’re getting nervous. Read: very nervous."
The third-party nervousness around the PS5's imminent launch isn't directly attributable to either leader, but there has been a fair amount of internal secrecy so that data and information isn't leaked before launch. Internal teams are slow to receive word about the new console, which means that third-party developers and publishers are being kept in the dark far more than in past cycles.
There are certainly more questions as to what to expect under Ryan’s leadership now that Layden is gone, including Ryan's philosophy for the PlayStation 5’s expected 2020 launch, in addition to his approach to Worldwide Studios.