PlayStation business feels pressure to perform for Sony Corp
Buoyed by promotion of Kaz Hirai, Worldwide Studios boss admits "it's a huge expectation for us to lead the business."
The PlayStation business is under renewed pressure to perform for Sony Corporation in a year when the company is expecting to make a ¥220 billion ($2.9 billion) loss.
PlayStation's Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida admitted there's a renewed emphasis on the division to perform, but the group is also motivated by the leadership of new Sony CEO Kaz Hirai and his years of experience in the games market.
"I'll be remiss if I say they won't be because we're part of the big Sony corporation. But when you listen carefully to the announcements by Kaz Hirai, he clearly said that Sony going forward has a two pillar business. We have a really strong vertical integration, one is the digital imaging, with digital and video cameras and the other is games," Yoshida told GamesIndustry.biz.
The appointment of Kaz himself is a clear message. The way he has developed software, hardware and services together, I'm sure that's how he's going to develop the business.
Shuhei Yoshida, Sony
Yoshida said he is expecting continued investment in the PlayStation business - one of Sony's most successful brands and due in the spotlight this month with the imminent launch of the PS Vita handheld.
"Coming from Kaz, saying these two businesses are the pillars of the company, it's a huge expectation for us to kind of lead the business and so I would expect Sony would allow us to invest for the future.
"It's clear messaging, the appointment of Kaz himself is a clear message. The way he has developed software, hardware and services together, I'm sure that's how he's going to develop the business."
Kaz Hirai replaces Howard Stringer officially on April 1, and has already announced plans to grow the core games, smartphone and digital imaging businesses, as well as try to turn around Sony's struggling television business.
For Yoshida and other PlayStation executives, there's a sense of relief that senior Sony corporate staff now accept the games business, when even the rejection of ideas at boardroom level will be cushioned by Hirai's fundamental understanding of the games market.
"Because my office is in Sony headquarters I have more exposure to the other Sony divisions, it's fun to find new allies in different departments, but there are lots of layers of Sony executives on the electronics side that do not necessarily understand what we were doing in the games business," offered Yoshida.
"It was a scary thought when I had to present some investment and business plans to executives and I worried they might ask questions that might not be relevant, I was concerned that these people might be making decisions over our business.
"So it's a big relief and a very energising thing that we see Kaz promoted." He continued: "He's a very business orientated person but he also understands what is most important for our business and what our strategy is. Even when he says 'no' he understands our business, which is better than hearing 'no' from other executives who do not understand the video games business."
The PlayStation Vita launches in Europe and the US next week. GamesIndustry.biz will be offering extensive coverage of the console's development, launch and sales over the coming weeks.