Sony CEO smiles with game devs days before firing them all

  • Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan had visited PlayStation Studio in London a few days before it was shut down by the company.
  • 900 employees across several large Sony game developers are being let go.
  • Sony posted record revenues for its December 2023 period, but envisions slower sales of its PlayStation 5 console over the next few months.

Just five days before announcing that 900 employees at Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) would be let go, CEO Jim Ryan visited the PlayStation Studio in London, which will now be closed completely with all staff members laid off as part of the same mass firings.

The company recently announced record-setting revenues in its December quarter in 2023.

Ryan visited the studio as part of his farewell tour as he nears his retirement in March. Developers of the studio stopped to take a picture with the CEO. It was posted by one of the developers on X, wishing Ryan well in his departure. It is understood that everyone in the image alongside Ryan (middle) has now been let go by Sony and PlayStation.

It is likely that the studio was already planned to be shut down at the time Ryan was visiting.

The SIE round of firings is but another spate of layoffs that have plagued the technology industry since 2022. According to an open letter Ryan sent out to employees on Tuesday, SIE has taken a look at its portfolio and has decided that certain projects will not move forward and that the people responsible for those projects will also be cut off.

“I want to be clear that the decision to stop work on these projects is not a reflection on the talent or passion of team members,” wrote the Sony CEO.

“Sometimes, a project is started with the best intentions before shifts within the market or industry result in a change of plan. I am deeply saddened to see talented individuals leave the company. I have so much admiration, appreciation and respect for their work.”

According to Ryan, it is “fundamental and continuing changes” to the gaming industry that have sparked the need for restructuring. In the US, developers at Spider-Man developer Insomniac, The Last of Us makers Naughty Dog and SIE’s Technology, Creative and Support teams will see layoffs.

In Europe, Horizon makers Guerilla, as well as Firespite studios will see staff reductions. “These are in addition to some smaller reductions in other teams across PlayStation Studios,” Ryan adds.

Last year in October, developers Bungie who are also owned by SIE, announced that it would lay off a significant portion of its staff. At that point, it was understood as internal layoffs but they could have been a precursor for this week’s firings.

Another factor that could have caused layoffs is slowing sales of PlayStation 5 consoles. “PlayStation 5 is in its fourth year, and we are at a stage where we need to step back and look at what our business needs,” Ryan added.

Sony has sold nearly 50 million PlayStation 5 consoles since the release of the system. In its latest financials, the company indicated that it was decreasing the system’s sales forecast from 25 million down to 21 million units in the upcoming fiscal year ending March 2024.

The company is anticipating a slowing of its gaming segment, which could be influencing the layoffs across its studios. Despite this, it made $24.9 billion in its December quarter, a few million more than it expected.

“I have nothing to say. I’m in tears. I am looking for a new job I guess so please reach out. I’m numb and once settled I may have more to say,” said Izzy Foley, associate art manager at the now-defunct PlayStation Studios London, who posted the images with Ryan and her colleagues.

Foley had just been tweeting support for the staff at Supermassive Games, which had also announced layoffs a day before.

[Image – @izzyfoley94 on X]


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