Sony names new PlayStation chief as speculation grows over its next big console

Key Points
  • Jim Ryan will be appointed Sony Interactive Entertainment's president and CEO on April 1, taking the reins from John Kodera.
  • The move marks the second time in two years Sony has named a new PlayStation boss and comes after a drop in profits and sales of the PS4.
  • Speculation has been growing over the Sony's next big console, as the PS4 approaches the end of its lifecycle.
Kenichiro Yoshida, president and chief executive officer of Sony, speaks at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Sony's gaming division appointed senior executive Jim Ryan as its new president and CEO on Tuesday.

Ryan will be appointed to his new role on April 1, taking the reins from John Kodera, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) said in a statement.

The executive previously served as SIE's deputy president and was head of global sales and marketing before that.

"Our Game & Network Services business has grown into the Sony Group's largest business in terms of both sales and operating income," Yoshida said in a statement. "Furthermore, our business in this domain holds significant importance as our growth driver going forward."

He added: "At the same time, this industry is relentlessly fast-moving, and to remain the market leader, we must constantly evolve ourselves with a sense of urgency."

The move marks the second time in two years that the company has named a new PlayStation boss — Kodera was appointed in October 2017 — and comes after it reported a drop in profits and sales of its PlayStation 4 console.

Speculation has been growing over the firm's next big console, as the PS4 approaches the end of its lifecycle. Sony President and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida confirmed last year that the product was in development, but remained tight-lipped on the branding and features.

Tom Wijman, senior market analyst at gaming research firm Newzoo, said the leadership change was likely about Sony's renewed focus on the services side of its business, the PlayStation Network, or PSN.

"Two key trends play a role here: firstly, game franchises are slowly turning into entertainment franchises," Wijman said. "Secondly, in an era of gaming-as-a-service and the upcoming games subscriptions, owning IP (intellectual property) is very valuable."

"With a reported 90 million monthly active users, the PSN audience is massive, and a large group is already on a paid subscription plan (PlayStation Plus)."

Wijman added that it "wouldn't surprise" him if Sony began pushing its music and movie content on PlayStation Plus "in the near future."

Sony made the shock decision last year to skip 2019's Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, the largest gaming show of the year. SIE Worldwide Studios Chairman Shawn Layden recently explained the decision in an interview with CNET, hinting at the games giant's change in direction for exclusive games.

"The world has changed, but E3 hasn't necessarily changed with it," Layden said. "And with our decision to do fewer games — bigger games — over longer periods of time, we got to a point where June of 2019 was not a time for us to have a new thing to say."

He said the firm was hosting an event called Destination PlayStation this month, which is set to be attended by retailers and third-party partners. "They're making purchasing discussions in February. June, now, is just too late to have a Christmas holiday discussion with retailers."

At the firm's last E3 event, it unveiled in-depth trailers for its line-up of blockbuster exclusives, including the highly-anticipated zombie game "The Last of Us Part II" and action-adventure game "Ghost of Tsushima."

Sony's biggest competitor in the gaming sphere, Microsoft, announced during last year's E3 convention that it was working on its next Xbox consoles as the Xbox One approaches the end of its lifecycle. It has so far remained silent on the name of the new console and any other details.