Jim Ryan, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) CEO, console dad, and crash zoom victim, is stepping down from his position at the top of the PlayStation tree after nearly 30 years at the company. Ryan will retire in March next year, at which point Sony's current COO and CFO Hiroki Totoki will assume the role of interim CEO while SIE hunts for a new, more permanent overlord.
Why's Ryan retiring? Well, aside from the fact that he's 63 years old and has been working at Sony since 1994—which would certainly predispose me to a nap—the CEO says he's been finding it "increasingly difficult to reconcile living in Europe and working in North America". No hard feelings, though: Ryan says he's retiring "having been privileged to work on products that have touched millions of lives across the world," and that he's "more optimistic than ever about the future of SIE."
Ryan was never quite as potently memetic as Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aimé, who retired from his own position in 2019, but he's nevertheless become the face of Sony's gaming efforts over the course of the last few years, and it'll be strange—at least for me—not to see him helming the company's PR efforts in future.
Nevertheless, I can't blame Ryan for wanting a break. Since he became president and CEO of SIE in 2019, he's overseen the 2020 release of the PS5 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic—when the console's supply chain was pretty much in shambles—and established himself as a kind of nemesis to Microsoft's acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, the biggest videogame acquisition in history.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer doesn't hold that against him, though. In a tweet earlier today, Spencer wrote that "Jim Ryan has been a great contributor to our industry and a fierce leader for PlayStation. I wish him the best in what he does next. Thank you for all you’ve done for the community over the last 30 years, Jim."
Ryan also oversaw Sony's own acquisition of Bungie during his run—although the company says the purchase wasn't a reaction to Microsoft's moves—and Sony more or less gave up on its campaign against Microsoft's Activision purchase a few months ago, in July this year.
More relevant to you and me, Sony's embrace of the PC as a platform also occurred during Ryan's tenure as boss. The release of Horizon Zero Dawn on PC storefronts happened in August 2020, around a year into Ryan's reign, and was soon followed by other former Sony exclusives like Days Gone, God of War, and the Spider-Man games. That policy has worked out very well for the company, so we can probably rest assured that whoever the next Sony CEO is, they won't upset the PC apple cart too much.
Ryan's leaving Sony and PlayStation is a pretty decent position, all things considered, and the comments from other Sony execs are predictably glowing. Sony big boss Kenichiro Yoshida called Ryan "an inspirational leader throughout the entire period with us," giving him particular praise for "overseeing the launch of the PlayStation 5 in the midst of the global Covid pandemic."
Hiroki Totoki—Ryan's soon-to-be temporary replacement—said pretty much the same, expressing his "heartfelt gratitude to Jim Ryan for his outstanding achievements and contributions over his 30-year career at Sony, including the great success of launching the PlayStation 5."