Disclaimer: This opinion piece is meant to be no more than that — an opinion. Likewise, this article fully respects the original authors opinion, and in no way aims to create animosity or drama towards the writer. This is merely one fans reaction to another.
Posted last month on popular news aggregate site N4G, one user submitted an opinion piece titled “Jim Ryan Needs to be voted out of his position”. The article quickly gained attention and a 1000+ degree score – N4G’s in house metric of measuring trending articles – and much debate between fans.
In this opinion piece, I’ll be reacting and sharing some of my person opinions as a fellow PlayStation fan. The author makes the following points, stating that these have all occurred under Jim Ryan’s leadership:
PS5 Exclusives raised to $70
This is true that for the first time in nearly gaming history, the average price of new games has been raised an extra $10, from $60-70. However, I bluntly feel that this point is mis-aimed at not only Jim Ryan, but PlayStation.
It is true that PlayStation has been one of the first to implement the new price point – however, we’ve known for some time that several publishers have been considering – if not full out warning – that this price increase would eventually happen.
I believe the onus on this decision in no way lies on PlayStation, but has actually been a sentiment raised by many developers via social media channels for years. Amy Henig, former lead writer behind the widely successful PlayStation hit Uncharted series, wrote several years back that the AAA game development industry had been reaching a threshold where development costs and personal strain had become unsustainable, and that a likely price increase would eventually have to happen.
Going back to responsibility with Sony, other publishers such as XBox have already indicated that their titles will eventually move to the new $70 price point, leaving Sony only to implement this price first.
Japan Studios stripped from its former glory
This has been another controversial topic amongst PlayStation fans, but dare I say that this was more of a “cleaning house” move by Sony, than a misguided decision.
Japan Studios for years has reportedly been plagued by mis-management, lack of profits, and had lost its direction in developed titles. For Sony, who recently has been doubling down on investing in its greatest talent and studios, perhaps no longer saw the same value that Japan Studios was once able to product.
Further, we’ve seen Sony shut down other studios in the past once they were no longer creating major titles, or reshuffled teams into other studios and projects.
While this decision likely hit hard by made fans, I believe there’s also a major business decision behind this as Sony has been consolidating behind their largest initiatives. That being said, I can understand why it’s a controversial decision.
Legacy PSN Stores Closing
Once again, I can understand the motivation here being one of business sense and consolidation. The PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita have been out of support and production for years now. And keep in mind, we’re already past an entire generation after that – the PS4, and into the PS5 generation. We’ve seen by the major revolutionary changes behind the PS5 – from incredibly advanced new tech, new UI, new overhauled controlled design in the form of the DualSense, that Sony and specifically Jim Ryan have been keep to place PlayStation as the head of “what makes next-generation”.
I believe this forward-thinking strategy was partly behind their decision to close down legacy stores, in addition to of course being a business-minded move.
However, we now know that Sony has reversed their decision after fan outcry, which I believe they deserve credit for.
Killzone Franchise Retired
As a former huge Killzone fan, I have a personal interest and note on this topic. To put it blunt, as much as Killzone was a beloved game by hardcore fans, the franchise simply never met large commercial success compared to other IP. While I know that may hurt for some, but Sony and PlayStation are a business, and have little incentive to keep supporting under-performing titles – especially when the cost of developing large AAA blockbuster hits has been under fire of becoming unsustainable.
This same decision, I believe, could be made in Sony’s closure of the Resistance franchise – which similarly, was well received by most fans, but also did never reach a huge level of commercial success.
Whether we like it or now, Sony is fully aimed towards doubling and tripling down on their greatest talent, IP, and developing new IP. We can’t just expect developer Guerrilla Games to create “a bigger and better” Killzone, that this time will shatter sales records and show what’s what. Guerrilla Games is one of the most talented developers in the entire video game industry — so I must ask fans, if they can’t get it to reach commercial success, who would?
Days Gone Sequel Was Turned Down
This one’s fairly simple and to the point. Many fans would rightly point out, that Days Gone was a new IP – and one that did fairly well, though not terrifically. Still, it was well enough received that it should receive a sequel.
However, this complaint is easy to explain. The decision was made to turn down Days Gone 2, simply because the specific pitch for the sequel’s design was not well liked by Sony – not that they didn’t wish to move the Day’s Gone series forward. Had the developer pitched a different premise for the sequel, it’s possible that Sony’s opinion may have been different.
Currently killing any hope for full backward compatibility despite according to two patents they are working on solutions.
On this topic, I’ve been closely following the leaks, patents and trademarks filed by Sony regarding backwards compatibility since the leaks began. None of us can know the true story of what’s going on. But one thing is for certain, and that’s that Sony does indeed have clear cut patents detailing methods to make many previous PlayStation platforms compatible on the PS5.
I can only surmise this – Sony is likely still working on this, but that it is a massive technical challenge and if becomes reality, may not be released until mid-way into this generation.
On one hand though, filing trademarks or patents for such things is completely in the norm, even for practices which will never be released by the filer. This is usually done for business purposes and to protect intellectual property. So we as fans have to keep that in mind.
However, I believe there’s already historical basis for Sony releasing hardware & software changes part way through a generation, such as them activating HDR + HDMI support upon the release of the PS Pro. If you haven’t heard of that story, Sony had in fact anticipated the release of later HDMI specs, and had engineered HDR support to be enabled later by firmware – even though the technology had not fully been realized yet.
When you consider the sheer engineering talent behind Sony, particular through the PS4 and PS5’s architect Mark Cerny, we can see more such cases being possible in the future.
Turned down Kojima’s next game (allegedly)
Closing up this opinion piece, my opinion here is also fairly blunt, so here we go: Sony took a risk on Kojima’s recent game, Death Stranding, and the title did not reach high success.
Hideo Kojima has been a staple and iconic name throughout the PlayStation world for many years – something I don’t need to point out. And as a Kojima fan myself, he’s regarded in a somewhat demi-god status by many fans – something I’m not trying to criticize here. However, Death Stranding simply did not reach very good commercial sales numbers, and Kojima himself even admitted later that he was somewhat disappointed in how the game panned out.
I think it’s easy to believe Sony took this into account, and is perhaps a little more aware of Kojima’s unconventional game design. Similarly, we can look back to Sony’s massive investment into the space MMO No Man’s Sky – and the horrendous launch and fan backlash after release, in which Sony had to step back from the scene as merely a marketing co-partner.
We still don’t know yet whether Kojima is working on another PlayStation title, but rumors have been churning lately that he is in fact working on a new Silent Hill game, exclusively for PlayStation. While this is still a fair stretch, if true it could explain why Sony did not consider his pitch on another brand new game.
These are just some of my thoughts on the criticisms leveled at Jim Ryan. As a PlayStation fan, I myself have also been keenly aware of these, not to mention other factors not included in the author’s piece.
I consider myself partially mixed, but still comfortable under Jim Ryan’s leadership. Simply because, Ryan is leading PlayStation in some new directions, or ones we as fans aren’t used to. Making titles available on PC, focusing on AAA in-house developers, shifting away from indies, etc. These are things that I notice are marked changes compared to the PS3 and PS4 era.
However, I must also be reasonable to keep in mind that PlayStation as a brand is booming now more than ever – and fan & global brand awareness is at an all time high. PlayStation continues to outsell its main competitor, Xbox, 2:1 like the previous generation, and PlayStation has become much more synonomous with console gaming these years.
For now, I continue to trust Jim Ryan’s leadership as I believe it is one of doubling down on what makes PlayStation great and focusing on its strengths, and so far, it’s panning out.