Is Jim Ryan an enemy of the PlayStation community?

PlayStation consoles are devices that changed the gaming industry, defined standards, and laid the foundation for many brands, studios and people’s careers. And bad decisions made by company executives go back two decades.

Is Jim Ryan an enemy of the PlayStation community?

Projects for PS Home, active support for 3D technology in TVs, the failure of the Vita, the PS TV set-top box and the relaunch of the classic PSOne – each of Sony’s unpleasant periods was accompanied by a certain managing director: Kaz Hirai, Jack Tretton, and now Jim Ryan. The latter has recently become an enemy of the PlayStation community.

Lucky number 

The first two legendary Sony consoles are a historical example of the popularization of the PlayStation brand. When nostalgic emotions subside, we can remember the difficult start of the PS3. At that time, the engineering department was still led by the “father of PlayStation” Ken Kutaragi, who was soon replaced by Kazuo Hirai. After the release of the console, they became the heroes of memes among Sony fans. Now, due to the increase in prices for exclusive games, the number of funny memes has doubled. 

The average price of $70 for a disc edition cannot be called a pleasant expense, and promises of better quality do not strongly convince one of the need to pay an extra ten. 

You will either have to live with the prices for Sony games or wait for a relatively quick price reduction. The secondary market has not been canceled either. After several months, prices for Demon’s Souls and Sackboy: A Big Adventure have dropped. Returnal will likely face a similar fate.

Let’s go back to the PS3’s rocky launch, where many bad decisions were made. The prohibitive price of the console turned out to be inadequate for the quality – it was technically superior to the Xbox console (on paper), but this did not help. The difficulty of developing games for the PS3 did not play into the hands of the Japanese company.

Competition forces you to move forward, even if the step is regression. The PlayStation 3 had many good products, but was different from its great predecessor. The defeat in the “virtual home for every player” area of ​​PS Home, the quickly becoming obsolete stereoscopic 3D, and the neglect of backwards compatibility aspects all bring back negative memories. And although the decisions looked like contributions to the technologies of tomorrow, they turned out to be wrong.

Why did fans forgive them so quickly? The answer is simple – thanks to the PlayStation 4. An aggressive approach to the gaming direction, a good price for the device and the disastrous launch of the Xbox One made the “four” a lucky number for Sony. Managers and developers pulled the brand out of the abyss and made it an icon for tens of millions of players. 

Microsoft found a loyal audience thanks to the Xbox 360, but mistakes at the launch of the Xbox One convinced the world that Sony knows how to learn. But will the company be great in the new generation?

Big changes

Bold decisions come with great responsibility. Now CD Projekt and PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan feel this painfully. He previously headed PlayStation’s marketing department and took over as head of Sony’s interactive entertainment division in 2019.

Sony has accustomed us to high-quality games from its own studios, but two years ago an unprecedented situation arose. The release of Days Gone showed that the game from Sony’s internal team may come out unfinished! This is largely due to the small development team for an open world product. The game received an extremely low rating for the company’s reputation – 71% on Metacritic. The score is more related to the technical condition. A self-respecting studio always corrects mistakes, and this is what happened with Bend Studios – the project was not only corrected, but also reduced in size by 33%! The game gained fans and sold successfully. Moreover, fans were confident that Days Gone 2 was being created.

And then Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier appears on the scene and declares that a sequel will not be created. This is indirectly confirmed by the first persons of the franchise. A petition is instantly created for the resignation of Jim Ryan, who is allegedly guided by a corporate mindset and does not listen to the players. “Sony cares more about Metacritic ratings.”

The fact that Ryan’s decisions do not particularly influence the formation of the opinion of the entire PlayStation audience is evidenced by the numbers. 5,000 signatures in a week on a petition is a drop in the bucket.

Another wave of indignation arose when PlayStation management announced the closure of stores for old consoles – PS3, PSP, PS Vita. Maintaining services comes with additional burdens in terms of costs and delegation of human resources. The priority now is PS5.

And here the comparison between Jim Ryan and Don Mattrick, who was responsible for the Xbox One promotion strategy, comes to mind. The Xbox division at the launch of the Xbox One said: “Are you not connected to the network? Stay on X360.” And now PlayStation seems to say to fans: “You don’t have a PS4 or PS5? Then you don’t have access to the PlayStation Store!

Sony effectively fights its competitor only with high-quality games, but there is no alternative in the form of services, with the help of which Microsoft is increasingly attracting new customers. Xbox is also arming itself with games and new studios. Buying additional teams and licenses is a luxury that Sony cannot afford. Hence the emphasis only on large projects.

When Sony cornered the market with the PS4, Xbox head Phil Spencer began promoting backwards compatibility. Older games aren’t as popular years later, but why keep multiple consoles from the same family at home when you can run everything on one? For Sony, this is not a crushing blow to the jaw, but a noticeable poke.

Another hook is the Xbox Game Pass subscription, and Sony has nothing to answer here. PlayStation Plus Collection is an excellent collection and a step forward, but not a full-fledged service.

The Curling Iron has a dedicated audience that, in the age of online gaming, buys single-player products from Sony’s internal studios. So is this loyal consumer really indifferent, who buys new consoles, new single projects at the premiere and pays for a subscription?

Freezing the old PS Store for PS3 and PS Vita is not the best decision, which has caused a wave of indignation. Fortunately, the decision was quickly reversed.

PlayStation Americanization

There has long been talk online that Sony is becoming more “American” under Ryan. In light of the closure of Japan Studio, it’s hard to disagree with this. It was this studio that actively supported the development of the cult Bloodborn from From Software. You can add to the list assistance in working on games from Fumito Ueda – The Last Guardian and the remake of Shadow of the Colossus, Gravity Rush 1 and 2. She also worked together with Bluepoint Games on the remake of Demon’s Souls, the main exclusive at the launch of PS5. Does this mean redirecting creative resources to flagship brands only?

Returnal categorically denies such a policy, but hardly anyone wants Sony to follow the path of proven solutions. That is, with an emphasis on releasing only the strongest intellectual properties.

PlayStation Americanization

The strongest argument in the debate between Sony fans and Microsoft is “what do you have besides Halo, Gears and Forza?” But it seems that having 24 studios will break this rule after some time. Sony currently owns 12 studios. The most recent acquisition was Insomniac Games, and the deal to acquire Bluepoint Games, the creators of the modernized Demon’s Souls, has not been confirmed.

Another proof of “Americanization” was the change in the PS5 for the Japanese audience of the confirmation button on the controller from “circle” to “cross”. The company explained this by bringing it to a single standard, American and European. In all past generations of PlayStation, they adhered to the traditions of Asian culture: a cross is wrong, a circle is right.

“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business”

Ryan is primarily a businessman and marketer. It is clear that any manager will pretend that he cares about the players, but they are clients for him. So we can expect Ryan to make the same unpopular but profitable decisions as Activision’s Bobby Kotick, Take-Two’s Strauss Zelnick or EA’s Andrew Wilson. For such people, the numbers in the tables are more important than the community.

Ryan to make the same unpopular but profitable decisions as Activision's Bobby Kotick, Take-Two's Strauss Zelnick or EA's Andrew Wilson

Whether we like it or not, difficult decisions have been made, are being made and will be made. It’s funny, but in the gaming industry, businessmen are often disliked, during whose tenure, paradoxically, the company makes the most profit.

Predicting the next few years in today’s console market is difficult. Every choice has certain consequences. Sometimes we ourselves dictate decisions to the board through our wallet. And some are guided in their decisions by the lesser evil. Although one monster hunter said: “Evil is evil. Smaller, larger, average – everything is one, the proportions are conditional, and the boundaries are blurred.” Remember who? It’s ironic that the creators of games about the Witcher Geralt recently got into Cyberpunk 2077. The “lesser evil” rule didn’t help. 

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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