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Sony Businesses Entertainment Games

Sony's Ken Kutaragi To Step Down 81

Joystiq reports that Chairman and group CEO for Sony Computer Entertainment Ken Kutaragi is retiring as of June 19th. The Sony reshuffling of executives late last year left Mr. Kutaragi out of the PS3 nitty-gritty, and one could imagine led to his decision to leave the organization. From SCEI's official statement: "[Mr. Kutaragi] stated that, in the six months since the appointment of Kazuo Hirai as President in December, the new generation of management, led by Mr. Hirai, has continued to develop. With the March introduction of PS3 in Europe completing the successful launch of PS3 worldwide, Mr. Kutaragi has identified SCE's Annual Shareholders' meeting in June as the ideal timing to pass on the torch to the new generation of management. Mr. Kutaragi will now apply his extensive technological knowledge and leadership skills to take on new challenges beyond the world of PlayStation."
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Sony's Ken Kutaragi To Step Down

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  • What's the true meaning though? Does this mean that Ken was pushed out because of some of the more famous gaffs that he and others made leading up to the launch of the PS3?
    • by tuffy ( 10202 )
      It's safe to assume Sony didn't move Ken out of his Playstation boss role because he was performing it too well.
    • by flitty ( 981864 )
      *hands bucket to guy standing next to him*
      "Here, YOU start bailing water. I'll take my chance in the ocean."
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's a bit of a coincidence for him to leave just after the PS3 is confirmed as a total failure (full international release and still way behind the competitors). Clearly shows that inside Sony they're well aware they have a serious problem, and the hilarious press releases about the PS3 are a miserable attempt at damage control, and not simply corporate arrogance.
  • Yokoi? (Score:3, Funny)

    by alexmogil ( 442209 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:22PM (#18888385) Homepage Journal
    Is he going to get a Gunpei window seat, or is he going to have any real power?
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Consider their fortunes of late, he should be glad they're not making him commit sepuku.
      • by British ( 51765 )
        Consider their fortunes of late, he should be glad they're not making him commit sepuku.

        I was envisioning an expensive Sony-brand proprietary Wikazashi(sp?), a blade shorter than a katana that is especially for suicide. That seems more appropriate.

        Either that, or he'll be assigned to staring out of a window forever, or maybe that weird white cube-room we saw in the bizarre PS3 commercials.
        • Even better: Ritual Wii-mote Seppuku. Only fair.
        • The sword is called a Wakizashi [] and it is not repeat not especially for suicide. If you can believe wikipedia the name literally translates as "to wear a sword at one's side" and not "to disembowel oneself to relieve population pressure."
        • Wakizashi is the term. It was used typically as a shorter alternative/backup to the katana. When indoors, swinging space is limited, thus the need of a shorter blade.
      • Sepuku? I think a lifetime supply of Sony laptop batteries ought to do the job eventually.
      • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
        The comparison to Gunpei Yokoi kinda implies that.
  • by jojoba_oil ( 1071932 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:22PM (#18888393)

    With the March introduction of PS3 in Europe completing the successful launch of PS3 worldwide [emphasis mine]
    What is that word doing in there?
  • Does anything more need to be said?

  • Oh, I don't think he decided anything. This is how executives get pushed out while allowing them to save face.

    Anyway, thanks to Ken, for one of the most entertaining business dramas I've seen since 3dfx.
    • by darkrowan ( 976992 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:54PM (#18888937) Homepage
      Business language translations:

      Leaves to spend more time with family - Flat out quit, had to be begged to give some kind of notice
      Leaves to take on new challenges - "There's the door, don't let it hit you on the ass."
      • Mod parent up (Score:1, Insightful)

        by bigred85 ( 1030936 )

        Wow. Just wow. If only I had mod points.

        If I did, however, you'd probably get "Insightful" rather than mere "Funny".

        • by Amouth ( 879122 )
          that's because it is Insightful - there are some people out there (i don't know where but i am sure there are) that don't understand them.. we might be able to find this if sony every lets us look at the list of people that acutaly bought a PS3 and didn't ebay it..
      • Yeah, that's not "Funny," and it's not even "Insightful," it's "Informative."

        This is a code phrase for "This guy did a really lousy job and we're finally happy to be rid of him."

        If you follow college football at all, this kind of thing is normal. You learn that, for example, the administration making an official statement to the effect of "We stand behind Coach Winsnogames 100%" is pretty much a guarantee that the guy is either about to be fired, or will be if he doesn't win it all the next year. "I committed to this school because of their outstanding academic support" means that someone will take the tests for him. And "I committed to Texas A&M" means the athlete's only committed to that school until a real school offers him a scholarship.

        I mean seriously... A&M's had what, 6 decommits already? :)
  • The PS3 is an amazing machine technically, but it's too hard to develop games on it and unfortunately people still think of the PS3 as primarily a gaming machine, even though Ken and Sony execs would prefer they didn't. And bottom line is people aren't willing spend that much money for a gaming machine; especially one with games whose quality doesn't scale with the extra cost.

    I guess Gabe Newell (head honcho at Valve) had it right all along [].

    • What's scary is that they knew the strategy wouldn't work: they'd tried it before with the PSX, which was a PlayStation with media functionality. Consumers didn't take to it because they didn't want to spend a ton of money to get features they wouldn't use.
  • by MBraynard ( 653724 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:55PM (#18888987) Journal
    Will the video footage of him comitting ritual suicide be available on UMD?
    • I hope so. I'd love to see him try to do Seppuku with one of nitendo's wireless controllers.
      It would be so poetic...

  • by 0kComputer ( 872064 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @02:58PM (#18889035)
    Someone must have hitten him in his weak point for MASSIVE DAMAGE!.

    ...Sorry, I had to do it.
    • ...Sorry, I had to do it.
      No, no you really didn't.
    • News just in

      A visibly distressed Mr. Kutaragi was seen crawling from head offices clutching his crotch. Meanwhile, a victorious looking Mr. Hirai gave an applauded speech at the press statement, explaining how he had been inspired by a battle that took actually place in ancient Japan, and how his new strategies are based on japanese history.
    • You know, neither one of those gaffes were uttered by Kutaragi. "Riiiidge Racer!" was Kaz Harai's, and the "Massive Damage" thing was a representative of the company that makes Genji. (Who's name escapes me at the moment.) What Kutaragi actually said when he stepped down was, "Inside this body, is powerful and elegant system!"

      The reporters weren't quite sure how to take it until he explained that he was working at Sony for far "too cheap". "Is it not nonsense to compare the charge for dinner at the company
  • Hello Krazy Kaz!!

    This is not the first time Kaz has replaced Ken. Remember, remember, the 30th of November []

  • This could be a stretch, but at the moment GTA4 seems to be the next killer app that will move it into the public's hands - regardless of cost. The first inkling I had that GTA wasn't just another series was hearing an audience respond - loudly - during the Daily Show back in 2001 during a segment they showed. The sales of couse spoke for themselves. Now - if - and we're talking a big if, IF the Sony PS3 version is appreciably better looking than the Xbox360 version - then I don't see why people wouldn't st
    • Hmm... I don't know. The PC versions of GTA always looked better but I never heard of them outselling console versions.
      • Well, there could also be branding carry-over - people say "GTA" in the same breath they say "Playstation". That REALLY sounds like a stretch - but Hilary Clinton and others keep saying the two together as well so you have that out there in the public. I think the fact there hasn't been a new GTA game (apart from the "stories") in 3 years and a new engine in 6 years, is going to have some kind-of traction. And since I don't expect massive changes in the gameplay - it's going to be the grapics that sell. IF
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      Now - if - and we're talking a big if, IF the Sony PS3 version is appreciably better looking than the Xbox360 version - then I don't see why people wouldn't step up to the plate to get the most capable GTA platform available much in the same way gamers shop for PC's.

      Because it won't change the gameplay? It won't look dramatically better, which is what it would really take.

      There are few games that have the power to draw people to a console even when they are exclusives if that console doesn't have a life o

  • Shareholders (Score:5, Insightful)

    by duerra ( 684053 ) * on Thursday April 26, 2007 @03:46PM (#18889887) Homepage
    Sounds to me he picked the shareholders meeting to announce his retirement so that the shareholders don't have to announce it for him.
  • Mr. Kutaragi will now apply his extensive technological knowledge and leadership skills to one of our competitors so, hopefully, they can fail even beyond the world of PlayStation.
  • Happy happy early birthday present to me!
  • This is where Western people REALLY don't understand Japanese business practices. Kutaragi failed BIG TIME, and when you do that in Japanese business it is considered "honorable" to step down. This is not weird to Japanese. Just unsaid rules of the system. Kind of like a code. Think of "parle" in Pirates. Kinda like that.

    *Also, I have some credability being a Japanese studies major, but only a little.*
  • Gunpei Koto (Score:3, Interesting)

    by reybrujo ( 177253 ) on Thursday April 26, 2007 @10:48PM (#18895149) Homepage
    After reading Michael Pachter's take on this [],

    [The move] probably [had] more to do with software and the PSP than with the PS3
    I immediately thought about Gunpei Yokoi [], who fell in disgrace after developing the Virtual Boy. The portable market is tough.
  • Finally, some good news from Sony! :D
  • Ken's a scapegoat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Friday April 27, 2007 @07:25AM (#18898317)
    Say what youy want about his gaffs with the PS3, but keep in mind that the primary factor that ruined the PS3 was the insistence that it include a Blu-Ray drive, most likely driven from the Media-oriented Mr. Stringer. Kutaragi was forced to support a product that was flawed because its development was driven (and delayed) by motivations that had nothing to do with gamers, and everything to do with promoting a new DRM scheme.

    Remove the 6 month delay necessitated by adding the Blu-Ray drive, as well as the expense, and the obvious maneuver to push Blu-Ray into homes using fanboys and loyal customers, and it's an entirely different story... Sony still has a problem with the gaming experience, and the whole fiasco over feedback controllers, but those become minor issues. In making DRM so central to the PS3's strategy (or should I say, making the PS3 central to Sony's invasive DRM strategy) after Sony's horrible anti-consumer behavior primarily in its media divisions has made many of its loyal customers angry and resolute in not supporting the company. It's made them consciously avoid all things "Sony" - from CDs that may install rootkits that open security holes on your PCs, to movies that take extreme measures to eliminate fair use of customers to back up their own movies (while pirates release those same movies on the net days or even weeks before they are released for retail). Until Blu-Ray is added to the mix, one can simply argue that the PS3 is an island in the sea of things wrong with Sony as a corporate citizen; with Blu-Ray, however, the PS3 becomes yet another pawn - a cynical move in an agenda to control consumers' rights and increase control in media markets.

    So, here we are, months after the PS3's dismal launch, and we all can agree, game quality issue aside, the PS3 would have sold much better without the Blu-Ray drive inflating the price. All of Ken's crazy words would have merely been a sidenote in a frenzied battle of consoles. It's launch would have occurred 6 months BEFORE the Wii, striking quicker and likely deeper into the market that the Wii got exposure to on equal terms with last holiday season. Can you blame Kutaragi for it all? Would he have agreed to include the Blu-Ray drive if he had not gotten incredible pressure from higher up?

    It's no coincidence that Sony's leaders are media people - their media division makes money by the tankerful. What nobody seems to grasp is that those profits are not thanks to those same executives that wield so much political power within Sony's corporate arena.... media sells these days, even crap media. The world is hungry for movies and music - I suppose you could say they at least didn't make so many boneheaded moves that they dragged the company down, but even that's not entirely true - yet they hold the power, and likely forced Blu-Ray upon the PS3.

    Ah well... they sweep Ken out the door and play it up as a "shake up" between the lines, it looks like SCE is making moves to improve the PS3 situation, but in reality, it does nothing to solve the underlying problem of a system tied down with a 50-ton boat anchor. It will satisfy the stockholders, many of whome have no idea when it comes to gaming consoles, only that that division has lost money for the last 5 years and is losing money at a rapid pace (even though others might realize it's a strategy to lose money on every PS3 sold).

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.