It’s been an interesting couple of years for Sony. The shake ups across its many businesses over the past two years have ranged from small reorganizations to massive staff culls, and Sony Computer Entertainment, the umbrella for the company’s PlayStation business including several studios, has not been immune. Even longtime staples like Sony Liverpool, the studio behind the Wipeout racing series, have been shut down in the process. The latest bout of restructuring to run through SCE is major, but also mysterious in that we won’t know how it affects the PlayStation line for some time to come. Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and Sony Computer Entertainment Asia have been shut down and reformed as a single unit.
According to Sony, the newly formed, still unnamed SCE umbrella will be led by former Sony Japan head, Hiroshi Kawano, while the former head of Sony Asia, Hiroyuki Oda, will be second in command. The most immediate changes will begin with the formation of a new quality assurance team – game testers and hardware engineers. A whole new marketing team will be established as well.
Sony Computer Entertainment has been in sore need of a marketing overhaul around the world for years now. The PS Vita has been struggling to supplant its predecessor, the PSP, in Japan, while marquee Sony releases in the West like Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, have been released globally with almost no marketing behind them. Hopefully this restructuring of the Asian unit will spread to SCE’s operation worldwide.
The big question is will this affect the operation of Sony Japan Studios? The Japanese PlayStation developer is working on a number of exciting projects for all of the company’s consoles. Sony Japan is working with Mark Cerny on the PS4 launch title Knack, as well as two PS3 downloadables including the excellent looking Rain and The Puppeteer. SCEJ is also overseeing the development of gaming industry unicorn The Last Guardian, a game in its seventh year of development.
The new boss Kawano has embraced Sony’s newfound populist attitude about the PlayStation brand. “[We’ve] also lowered the entry level for developers – developers can make things for PS4 much more easily,” said Kawano of the new console, “I understand how it’s important to address the hardcore consumer, and that’s a lot of fun, but we’ve also included lots of communication and social media functions to make playing games even more fun. There’s a lot of space for developers to experiment with the way people play on PS4. If you think of that, even games which have already been released, played on PS4 they could be even more enjoyable, bring more, different kinds of fun. The way people enjoy games is going to change.”