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.

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Microsoft-Activision $69 Billion Merger

An emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by a group of video gamers seeking to block Microsoft’s pending $69 billion purchase of publishing giant Activision Blizzard (publisher of Call of Duty) has been denied by the high court. An application for injunction ahead of the midnight termination deadline tonight had been submitted to Justice Elena Kagan, who denied it on July 18.

The denial comes on the heels of the Federal Trade Commission’s failed effort to block the deal last week when a federal appeals court judge in San Francisco denied the government’s request. It remains to be seen whether the FTC seeks alternative avenues to block the deal it said would pose an unlevel playing field to video game-playing consumers.

Tonight’s deadline is expected to pass with closing of the deal. An extension will likely be granted to deal with ongoing regulatory concerns in the United Kingdom. Should the deal fail, Microsoft is on the hook to Activision for a $3 billion break-up fee.

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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.

Sony Launches New PlayStation Plus Game Subscription Service

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) on June 13 announced the launch of a new PlayStation Plus video game subscription service in North and South America. The newly enhanced PlayStation Plus absorbs the current Playstation Now platform and claims to offer a bigger game catalog, in addition to enhanced social media functions — for the higher-priced subscription plans.

Today’s launch in the Americas will be followed by Europe and Australia in late June, completing the global roll-out that started in Asia in late May.

As a result, current subs will migrate over to PlayStation Plus Premium with cloud streaming access until their current subscription expires — with no increase to their current subscription fees at launch. Additionally, 11 markets in Eastern Europe will launch with cloud streaming access this month, for a total of 30 markets with cloud streaming access.

“The high caliber of content is what sets PlayStation Plus apart, and the service will continue to grow with new monthly game offerings that include some of the most celebrated titles on PlayStation platforms,” Jim Ryan, CEO of SIE, said in a statement.

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For the basic $9.99 PlayStation Plus Essential plan, the subscription service provides the same benefits that PlayStation Plus members are getting today, such as PS4 and PS5 monthly games, online multiplayer access, exclusive discounts, cloud storage and more. There are no changes for existing PlayStation Plus members in this plan and pricing remains the same.

For PlayStation Plus Extra subs, the $14.99 monthly tier adds a catalog of up to 400 PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games, including titles from the PlayStation Studios catalog and third-party partners. Games in the Extra plan are downloadable for play.

For $17.99 monthly PlayStation Plus Premium subs, the new service adds 340 additional games, including PlayStation3 games available via cloud streaming, a catalog of classic games from the original PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable generation.

The new PlayStation Plus game catalog will include titles from dozens of studios across the globe, including PlayStation Studios developers such as Insomniac Games, Naughty Dog, and Sucker Punch, and third-party partners such as Rockstar Games, Square Enix, WB Games and more. At launch, the PlayStation Plus game catalog will include titles such as Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut, Marvel’s Guardian of the Galaxy, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, NBA 2K22, and Red Dead Redemption 2. The hundreds of games available in the PlayStation Plus games catalog will continue to refresh and evolve over time, so there is always something new for gamers to play.

Classic games coming to PlayStation Plus include beloved hits such as Ape Escape, Syphon Filter and Tekken 2. Some of these classic games will show improved frame rates and higher quality resolution than its original launch versions. Additionally, select games from the original PlayStation and PSP generation will include a new user experience with menus that allow players to save their game at any time, or even rewind the game to replay a specific section.

PlayStation Plus initially launched in 2010 and was the first console membership service to provide a regular library of monthly games. PlayStation Now launched in 2014 and was the first game console subscription streaming service.

Analyst: Highest-Priced PlayStation Plus Video Game Tier Will Drive Subscriber Growth

Sony Interactive Entertainment’s newly consolidated PlayStation Plus subscription digital video game platform should see an uptick in subscriber growth, thanks in part to the features afforded on the most-expensive ($17.99) monthly ($120 annual) PlayStation Plus Premium Service option, says a Wall Street analyst.

Kota Ezawa, with Citigroup Global Markets, suggests that access to more than double the number of games (340) offered on the $9.99 monthly ($60 annual) PlayStation Plus Essential plan will entice gamers to spend more.

“We think the number of subscribers who will opt for the pricey PS+ Premium package will rise,” Ezawa wrote in a note.

In 2020, the worldwide online gaming market generated about $21.1 billion in revenue, a record 21.9% uptick from 2019, due in large part to the pandemic.

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This week, Sony consolidated its PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now digital platforms to better compete against Microsoft’s Xbox GamePass and Nintendo’s Switch Online subscription-based digital gaming services.

The rebooted PlayStation Plus enables subs to play PS, PS2, PS3, PS4 and PS5 titles online, while also offering multiplayer functionality at no additional cost. Ezawa says the PlayStation Plus platform offers “greater quality and quantity” of games than its predecessors.

“On the [Premium] contract plan, users can freely play up to 740 titles,” Ezawa wrote.

Sony Combining PlayStation Plus, Now Platforms Into One Video Game Subscription Service

The video game industry’s transition to a subscription-based business model turned another page March 29 when Sony Interactive Entertainment announced it would combine its PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now services into one platform bowing in June.

Launched in 2010, PlayStation Plus was the first console-based membership service that included a refreshed library of games through PlayStation Plus and streaming service PlayStation Now.

“This June, we’re bringing together Plus and Now in an all-new PlayStation Plus subscription service that provides more choice to customers across three membership tiers [priced from $9.99 monthly] globally,” Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, wrote in a blog post.

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The three membership tiers include:

  • PlayStation Plus Essential ($9.99 monthly): Provides the same benefits that PlayStation Plus members are getting today, such as two monthly downloadable games, exclusive discounts, cloud storage for saved games, online multiplayer access.
  • PlayStation Plus Extra ($14.99): Provides all the benefits from the Essential tier, while adding a catalog of up to 400 of PS4 and PS5 games, including titles from PlayStation Studios catalog and third-party partners. Games in the Extra tier are downloadable for play.
  • PlayStation Plus Deluxe ($17.99): Provides all the benefits from Essential and Extra tiers, plus the addition of 340 additional games, including PS3 games available via cloud streaming, a catalog of classic games available in both streaming and download options from the original PlayStation, PS2 and PSP generations; cloud streaming access for original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 games offered in the Extra and Premium tiers in markets where PlayStation Now is currently available. Customers can stream games using PS4 and PS5 consoles, and PC.

 

Sony said the tier would also offer time-limited game trials, so customers can try select games before they buy.

“As this is a massive launch effort, we’re rolling out the new PlayStation Plus offering in a phased regional approach,” Ryan wrote. “We’ll begin with an initial launch in several markets in Asia, followed by North America, Europe and the rest of the world where PlayStation Plus is offered. We aim to have most PlayStation Network territories live with our new PlayStation Plus game subscription service by the end of the first half of 2022.”

Sony also plans to expand the cloud streaming benefit to additional markets and will provide more details at a later date.

Sony Acquiring ‘Halo’ Video Game Developer Bungie for $3.6 Billion

Sony Interactive Entertainment Jan. 31 announced it has entered into definitive agreements to acquire independent video game developer Bungie, whose properties include the “Halo” and “Destiny” franchises, for $3.6 billion.

The deal aims to give Sony access to Bungie’s approach to live game services and technology expertise. Bungie will continue to operate independently.

Based in Bellevue, Wash., with more than 900 employees, Bungie is currently focused on the long-term development of Destiny 2, expanding the Destiny universe, and creating entirely new worlds in future IP.

“We’ve had a strong partnership with Bungie since the inception of the ‘Destiny’ franchise, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to officially welcome the studio to the PlayStation family,” Jim Ryan, president and CEO of SIE, said in a statement.

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Ryan said the transaction is an important step in Sony’s strategy to expand the reach of PlayStation system to wider audiences.

“Like Bungie, our community is core to PlayStation’s DNA, and our shared passion for the gamer and building the best place to play will now evolve even further,” he said.

Post-acquisition, Bungie will be an independent subsidiary of Sony Interactive Entertainment and run by its Board of Directors chaired by Pete Parsons and Bungie’s current management team. The transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

“In SIE, we have found a partner that fully supports us and wants to accelerate our vision of creating meaningful entertainment experiences that span generations, all while valuing the creative independence that is the heartbeat of Bungie,” said CEO Pete Parsons.

The executive believes the deal will unlock more than just new gaming properties.

“Our original universes have immense potential, and, with Sony’s support, we will propel Bungie into becoming a global multi-media entertainment company dedicated to delivering on our creative vision” Parsons said.

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.”

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.