Sony’s PlayStation Chief to Retire Next Year

Jim Ryan, who leads Sony’s PlayStation video game console business, will retire next year, Sony said on Wednesday.

Mr. Ryan joined Sony in 1994, and has held various executive positions at the company. He became the chief executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony, in 2019.

“I’ve found it increasingly difficult to reconcile living in Europe and working in North America,” Mr. Ryan, who is British, wrote in a blog post announcing his retirement.

Hiroki Totoki, another top executive at Sony, will become the interim chief executive of SIE after Mr. Ryan’s departure in March, the company said. Bloomberg earlier reported his planned retirement.

Sony has long been one of the most dominant companies in the lucrative video game industry, publishing popular franchises like Spider-Man and The Last of Us. In 2020, the company released the PlayStation 5, its latest console, to critical acclaim. Mr. Ryan wrote in a blog post in July that Sony had sold more than 40 million PlayStation 5s.

Sony’s chief competitors are Nintendo, which makes the Switch console, and Microsoft, which makes the Xbox. Sony has long held an edge over Microsoft in the number of hit games it makes that are exclusive to its system, driving gamers’ interest in the PlayStation.

To compete, Microsoft pioneered a new form of video game distribution: a Netflix-style subscription service in which gamers pay a monthly fee for a library of titles, rather than buying individual games.

Microsoft has also been on a spending spree in hopes of catching up to Sony, buying Bethesda Game Studios and a host of other studios in 2020 for $7.5 billion. Sony was a fierce objector to Microsoft’s other big purchase: a $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard that is still under review by regulators.

Mr. Ryan testified in a recorded video deposition with the Federal Trade Commission that he believed Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision’s library of games would harm PlayStation users and limit competition.

He said he believed Microsoft could withhold Call of Duty, Activision’s biggest game, from PlayStation “to damage us.” But a federal judge didn’t buy his arguments, and the Activision deal could close next month after a British regulator’s review.

Sony has also made acquisitions. Last year, it bought the game studio Bungie, which makes the Destiny franchise, for $3.6 billion.