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Sony Worldwide Studios Head Leaves PlayStation [Update]

Update 3/10/19:

It turns out that there may have been a sinister reason behind the sudden and abrupt departure of former Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios chairman Shawn Layden earlier this week.

According to third-party sources from GameDaily.biz, both Layden and SIE Japan-Asia president / SIE Japan director Atsushi Morita (who also recently departed from his position) could have been victims of company’s aggressive globalization efforts and transition to the next generation of gaming.

A corporate restructure to make Sony Interactive Entertainment global began back in April 2018, sparking an internal power struggle between two of the most powerful men in the company; Shawn Layden and Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide president/CEO Jim Ryan.

Both Layden and Ryan reportedly have different ideas on how to run PlayStation and SIE in terms of key areas like cloud gaming and crossplay. Layden is all for crossplay, while Ryan is more traditionalist and resistant to the idea. Ryan wants to push cloud gaming, namely PlayStation Now, which recently received a significant price cut and more games like 2018’s God Of War.

The source said:

“This is the least amount of clarity we’ve ever had on a new console this close to transition.

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.”

It remains to be seen if all this major restructuring of the company’s inner struggles will result in a better or worse future, especially as the next generation of gaming looms ever closer.

In an unexpected turn of events, another games industry bigwig is leaving his post for unknown reasons, after president and CEO Reggie Fils-Aimé left Nintendo earlier this year. This time it’s Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios chairman Shawn Layden who will be leaving PlayStation.

The news broke via an announcement on the PlayStation official Twitter account:

Layden has been with Sony for the past three decades, when he joined Sony’s corporate communications department in Tokyo, Japan, all the way back in 1987 as Communications Assistant for Sony co-founder Akio Morita.

Layden then managed international software development at Sony Computer Entertainment’s London Studio until 1999, when he was promoted to Vice President of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. After serving almost nine years, he later became President of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan in October 2007, a position which he held until March 2010.

In 2010, he was one of the founding members of Sony Network Entertainment International, serving as its Executive Vice President and COO. In April 2014, Layden succeeded Jack Tretton as President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America after Tretton stepped down from the position. Following his appointment as President, Layden participated in Sony’s conferences at E3 conferences from 2014 to 2018.

In March 2018, Layden’s role shifted to focus solely on SIE Worldwide Studios, focusing on PlayStation’s slate of first-party studios and exclusives, including playing an important part in the recent acquisition of Marvel’s Spider-Man developer Insomniac Games.

Shawn Layden 2

Shawn Layden (left) appearing on stage at The Game Awards 2018 alongside then-Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aimé (right) and Xbox head Phil Spencer (centre).

The sudden announcement of Layden’s departure is bizarre, considering how long and all his contributions to the company. It remains to be seen who will be replacing him as the head of SIE Worldwide Studios.



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