Normally I wouldn't write about the business affairs of gaming companies, but when that gaming company is Sony, and the business affairs happen to be the exiting of yet another big name CEO, I take notice. Yesterday Jack Tretton announced that after 19 years with Sony this would be his last month with the company.
In his blog addressing PlayStation fans, he talks about how positive the PlayStation 4 response has been, and how the console is fast approaching Next Gen domination, but I have to wonder. This has been a very hard year on CEOs at the big three. First, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata took a 50% cut in pay because WiiU sales failed to live up to shareholder expectations, and then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was rushed out of his post after failing with the Surface RT and issues with the Xbox One launch. Now the third ship in the big three armada is losing its captain, and you have to wonder what this will do to the industry.
On paper it's not that big a deal. Sure Tretton was the driving force for the company, and especially for the focus on gaming at Sony -- but the company COO will be stepping up to take his place so it's not like the new CEO won't have any knowledge of Tretton's plans. No, at this juncture, just as GDC starts and we head into another game industry reveal cycle, this shift in power structure seems to be more of a confidence shaker more than anything else. It's as if we got used to playing a game of Poker, and then a new dealer steps up to the table and pulls out a Pinochle deck. We don't know the cards, the faces are all new, and we feel more than a little out of sorts.
It will be interesting to see what really changes now that we have two new faces heading both Sony and Microsoft, and there will be no better indicator of those changes than this year's E3. My gut tells me that another suit is another suit, but I've been reading interesting theories the shift in power over at Microsoft (including this brilliant piece about a potential sale of the Xbox brand to Amazon), things could change, and rapidly in the gaming divisions of these companies. Just look at the latest round of layoffs at Disney yesterday. 700 people lost their jobs in just the latest round of cuts as Disney voices their distrust of interactive entertainment loud and clear.
Speculate though we might, it's just a waiting game at this point. If the industry really does shift because of a few men changing jobs, then this is a smaller world than we thought.