Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan Announces Retirement After 30 Years

Jim Ryan, president/CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, has announced his retirement after 30 years with the company that created the PlayStation video game empire.

Jim Ryan

Ryan will continue his role until March 2024. On April 1, 2024, Hiroki Totoki will be appointed Interim CEO of SIE while he continues his current COO role at Sony Group Corporation.

“I did not take this decision lightly and I absolutely love SIE and our community, but of late I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to strike the right balance between having my home in the U.K. and my job in the United States,” Ryan said in a statement.

During Ryan’s career, the executive helped Sony launch its video game business, and was put in charge of the PlayStation division in 2019. Ryan’s crowning achievement has been the launch of PlayStation 5, the company’s newest video game console that continues to dominate the market (and rival Microsoft’s Xbox), selling 40 million units since its global launch in 2020.

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The PlayStation 4 original game, The Last of Us with 37million unit sales, was adopted into an original dystopian series on HBO and Max. The company’s God of War Ragnarök has sold 11 million units globally as of Jan. 22.

The company next major consumer electronics device is the PlayStation Portal handheld device, which is slated to launch in November, and stream’s games from the user’s PS5 device.

Sony Hikes PlayStation 5 Retail Prices Globally — Except in the U.S.

Citing high global inflation rates, as well as adverse currency trends, Sony Interactive Entertainment Aug. 25 announced it is increasing the retail price for the PlayStation 5 video game console in all major markets except the United States.

In a blog post, Jim Ryan, CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said inflation has been creating pressure on many industries within the manufacturing ecosystem of the PS5. As a result, Sony is hiking prices in select markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Asia-Pacific (APAC), Latin America (LATAM), as well as Canada. There will be no price increase in the United States.

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Europe

    • PS5 with Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive — €549.99
    • PS5 Digital Edition — €449.99

 

U.K.

    • PS5 with Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive — £479.99
    • PS5 Digital Edition — £389.99

 

Japan (effective Sept. 15, 2022)

    • PS5 with Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive — ¥60,478 yen (including tax)
    • PS5 Digital Edition — ¥49,478 yen (including tax)

 

China

    • PS5 with Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive — ¥4,299 yuan
    • PS5 Digital Edition — ¥3,499 yuan

 

Australia

    • PS5 with Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive — AUD $799.95
    • PS5 Digital Edition — AUD $649.95

 

Mexico

    • PS5 with Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive — MXN $14,999
    • PS5 Digital Edition — MXN $12,499

 

Canada

    • PS5 with Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive — CAD $649.99
    • PS5 Digital Edition — CAD $519.99

 

“While this price increase is a necessity given the current global economic environment and its impact on SIE’s business, our top priority continues to be improving the PS5 supply situation so that as many players as possible can experience everything that PS5 offers and what’s still to come,” Ryan wrote in the post.

Sony sold 2.4 million PS5 consoles in the most recent fiscal period ended June 30. Thar was up 100,000 units from the previous year period. The company sold 11.5 million PS5 units in the previous fiscal year, ended March 31, 2022.

Analysis: Video Game Streaming a Fraction of the Market — For Now

The video game market, like much of home entertainment, is transitioning to a subscription-based streaming business. New data from Ampere Analysis finds that 5%, or $3.7 billion, of the North American, European video game market comprised cloud gaming PC subscriptions. That’s up 57% from $2.3 billion in revenue in 2020. That percentage is projected to double by 2027.

Ampere contends the subscription streaming market is being spearheaded by Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Sony’s PlayStation Now digital platforms, in addition to Nvidia’s GeForce Now, and telco-based cloud gaming services. Sony and Microsoft already dominate the packaged-media market through the Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series S/X consoles, respectively.

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Meanwhile, Ampere suggests streaming video games will top game downloads in the next five years. The report found that while console users represent the core of Microsoft’s game business, converting non-console users via streaming is the future. Game Pass had about 60% market share in digital gaming in 2021. That percentage is expected to grow.

Ampere reportedly expects Microsoft to bring Game Pass to additional mobile-first markets in the near-term, possibly with a mobile-only lower priced subscription. These new gamers will gradually shift the overall usage of the service more towards streaming.

“Eventually, we’ll get one or more big third-party franchise releases going straight into Game Pass; we could see that happen this year,” Ampere wrote in the report.

NPD: PlayStation 5 Snaps Nintendo Switch’s 33-Month Run as Top-Selling Game Console

Sony’s PlayStation 5 video game console was the top-selling unit in September, ending a 33-month run by Nintendo Switch as the industry’s top-selling console, according to new data from The NPD Group. November 2018 was the last month a game platform (PlayStation 4) other than Switch led in unit sales.

In a blog post, NPD analyst Mat Piscatella wrote that September hardware dollar sales increased 49% to $412 million when compared to the previous-year period at $276 million. Year-to-date hardware spending is up 49% to $3.5 billion, compared with $2.35 billion at this point last year.

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September game sales, which includes hardware, software and accessories, inched up 3% to a record $4.36 billion, from $4.24 billion last year — a notable achievement considering ongoing chip shortages due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, software sales, which include packaged media, digital and subscription, were flat at $3.78 billion. Accessories fell 12% to $171 million, from $193 million during the previous-year period.

Redbox Expands Streaming App to PlayStation 5 and 4 Consoles

Redbox Oct. 7 announced it has expanded distribution of its streaming app to the PlayStation 5 console. Now available to download for free, consumers will be able to stream ad-supported VOD movies and TV shows, as well as more than 100 free ad-supported TV (FAST) channels.

The app also gives consumers access to new release movies for rent or purchase through Redbox’s transactional VOD service, including Candyman and Stillwater. The kiosk disc rental company also announced that its streaming app would soon be available on the PlayStation 4 console as well.

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Redbox has aggressively ramped its streaming efforts and has grown the number of devices its app is available on, including increasing the number of titles and channels available for free. Movies streaming this month for free include The Last Witch Hunter, Beverly Hills Ninja and Dick, the latter starring Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams.

“We’re thrilled that our app is now available on the PlayStation 5,” Chris Yates, GM of Redbox On Demand, said in a statement. “We have so much great content to discover, and we’re constantly adding more films and TV shows, as well as free TV channels.”

PS5 Has Sold More Than 10 Million Units Globally

The PlayStation 5 (PS5) game console has sold through more than 10 million units globally since its Nov. 12, 2020, launch, according to Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The PS5 is the fastest-selling console in the company’s history and continues to outpace sales of its predecessor PlayStation 4 (PS4), according to SIE.

SIE also achieved additional milestones across its portfolio of PlayStation Studios games, including:

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales from Insomniac Games has sold more than 6.5 million copies since releasing on Nov. 12, 2020.
  • MLB The Show 21 from San Diego Studio is the fastest-selling title in franchise history with more than 2 million copies sold across all platforms. The game has reached more than 4 million players since releasing on April 16, 2021.
  • Returnal from Housemarque  has sold more than 560,000 copies since releasing on April 30, 2021.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart from Insomniac Games has sold more than 1.1 million copies since releasing on June 11, 2021.

 

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“I can’t express enough the deep gratitude we feel for our passionate community of PlayStation fans who have embraced PS5, and the world-class development and publishing partners who bring such incredible gaming experiences to our platforms,” Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said in a statement. “While PS5 has reached more households faster than any of our previous consoles, we still have a lot of work ahead of us as demand for PS5 continues to outstrip supply. I want gamers to know that while we continue to face unique challenges throughout the world that affect our industry and many others, improving inventory levels remains a top priority for SIE.”

NPD: March Sets Another Monthly Video Game Revenue Record

Another month, another 30 days generating record billions of dollars in sales of video games, hardware and accessories. New data from The NPD Group found that gamers spent record $5.61 billion in March, which was up 18% from $4.75 billion spent in the previous-year period.

Through 90 days of 2021, video game spending is up 30% to $14.92 billion from $11.47 billion last year.

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Main revenue drivers include next-generation game consoles from Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. But notably, the biggest seller in the month was the Nintendo Switch, which outsold the PS5 and Xbox Series X combined in unit sales. The PS5, however, remains the fastest-selling console in U.S. history in terms of units and dollars. Hardware sales skyrocketed 47% to $680 million, from $462.5 million a year earlier.

Software sales grew 14% to $4.63 billion, from $4 billion a year earlier, while accessories sales leaped 26% to $300 million, from $238 million. Accessories are up 42% through 90 days to $717 million, from $505 million last year.

Sony Looking to Further Bridge Anime, Movie, Video Game Markets

Sony is seeking to further meld anime, motion picture and video game markets through SVOD subsidiary Crunchyroll; a minority stake in Epic Games, publisher of the Fortnite game franchise; the PlayStation 5 game system; and other ventures.

Speaking on the Feb. 3 third-quarter fiscal call, CFO Hiroki Totoki said consumer interest in anime throughout Japan has increased 150% over the past five years, in addition to 19% worldwide year-over-year. Crunchyroll recently topped 90 million registered users and 4 million paid subscribers across more than 200 countries.

Indeed, anime movie sequel Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train, entered 2021 as Japan’s biggest box office hit, with more than $346 million in ticket sales through Jan. 5.

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“When the markets are growing, we try to enter such market to create our growth,” Totoki said. “But according to our internal investigation, those game players, the users that enjoy games and animation, it seems that there’s high level of affinity between these two groups.”

Totoki expects to see increased cross-selling opportunities in anime and gaming going forward. Sony’s recent $250 million investment in Epic includes development of movies and music. Epic is set to release its first animated feature film, Gilgamesh, directed by Tomas Lipgot, whose Spanish-language film, The Adopters, was recently acquired by Sony Pictures Television.

“That’s a new kind of entertainment in music and motion pictures for gaming,” Totoki said. “Consumer interest in Japanese anime is increasing rapidly, particularly outside of Japan. And as a company that currently owns both content and DTC streaming service, we have positioned anime as a focus area.”

Separately, Sony said it remains on track to meet a fiscal-year sales goal of more than 7.6 million PS5 units (4.5 million cumulative units sold through December) — despite ongoing console shortages due to a lack of semiconductors. Sony is projecting 14.8 million PS5 unit sales through the next fiscal year.

Total PlayStation user game play in December was about 30% higher than the same month of the previous fiscal year, according to Sony. At the end of December, 87% of PS5 users were subscribers to PlayStation Plus, the subscription platform affording users free access to games, multiplayer gaming, PlayStation Store store, and 100GB of cloud storage, among other features.

First-party PS5 title Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, recorded sales of 4.1 million units through December.

“We had more game software titles at the launch of the PS5 than at any previous PlayStation console launch in our history, and those titles have sold well,” Totoki said.

 

CES: Sony Touts Games’ Expanding Movie/Streaming Presence

In the wake of last November’s launch of the next-generation PlayStation 5 video game system, Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) used Sony Corp.’s annual (and virtual) CES media presentation to showcase PlayStation’s expanded foray into film and TV with a diversity of stories.

As with much of Hollywood, PlayStation, along with Sony Pictures Entertainment, pushed back most of its new original content releases to 2021 and beyond due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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In addition to continued development of the “Spider-Man” franchise, two PS properties eyeing both theatrical and episodic TV adaptations in 2021 include Uncharted, featuring Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) as a live-action young Nathan Drake and Mark Wahlberg as Victor Sullivan. The film is now set to release on July 16. Separately, Sony Pictures Television and HBO are creating a limited series around the video game The Last of Us for subscription streaming platform HBO Max.

The studio also has a partnership with Hivemind Productions (creator of Netflix’s “The Witcher”) for a live-action adaption of the Final Fantasy XIV series games.

“This is just the beginning of the expansion of our storytelling into new media and even wider audiences,” Jim Ryan, president/CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said in a video clip. “Sony is a creative entertainment company and entertainment has never been more important. Our community are networked like never before and are more diverse than they have ever been. And we celebrate and embrace the differing viewpoints and tastes that make up our community.”

Indeed, Sony Pictures CEO Tony Vinciquerra last month announced that the studio was working on three movies and seven TV shows based on PlayStation games, including the recent actioner Monster Hunter, starring Mila Jovovich and Tony Jaa.

“You’ll be seeing a lot more integration of Sony companies together in the future,” Vinciquerra told CNBC.

HBO Max Now Available on Sony PlayStation 5

WarnerMedia’s SVOD (and pending AVOD) platform HBO Max is now available on the Sony PlayStation 5, the newest game console from Sony Interactive Entertainment. PS5 users in the U.S. can download the Max app, sign in, and start streaming the platform’s full array of premium programming. The Max app is also available on PlayStation 4.

Availability on the PS platform is key to wider consumer adoption. After Netflix first launched the subscription streaming video business model in 2007, it turned to PlayStation to help grow subscribers. Direct access via the gaming platform was key to Netflix adding millions of subscribers during SVOD’s formative years. Flash-forward to the present, and Max is looking to do the same, in addition to converting existing HBO pay-TV subs through any means.

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Max adoption topped 12.6 million subs earlier this month, up from 8.6 million at the end of the most-recent fiscal period. Since Max’s bow on May 27, AT&T has made the $15 monthly SVOD service free to its 42 million combined HBO pay-TV (and HBO Now) subs in the U.S. But adoption of Max has been slow, with fewer than 3 million pay-TV subs signing up through June — a reality driven in part by confusing access rules.

With more than 10,000 hours of curated premium content, Max features entertainment from HBO, Warner Bros., DC, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and Turner Classic Movies, among others.

This month, the highly-anticipated DC superhero feature film Wonder Woman 1984, starring Gal Gadot, streams on Max on Christmas Day — the same day the sequel hits theaters across the country.

Additional Max fare includes holiday special My Gift: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood, a new “Euphoria” special episode starring Emmy-winner Zendaya, Steven Soderbergh’s new comedy Let Them All Talk, the third season of “Summer Camp Island” and four-part docuseries Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults. Movies The Shawshank Redemption, The Photograph, Sex and the City, Sex and the City 2, Gladiator, Meet Me in St. Louis and Demolition Man debut in the month as well. January will bring the second “Euphoria” special episode, “Search Party” season four, a new season of “Selena + Chef,” the entire “Gossip Girl” library, season one of “Snowpiercer,” The Alienist: Angel of Darkness and feature film The King of Staten Island.