Sony Gaming Chief Jim Ryan to Retire, Group President to Be Interim Head 

Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, speaks during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 4, 2023. (AFP)
Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, speaks during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 4, 2023. (AFP)
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Sony Gaming Chief Jim Ryan to Retire, Group President to Be Interim Head 

Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, speaks during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 4, 2023. (AFP)
Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, speaks during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 4, 2023. (AFP)

Sony Group said on Thursday its gaming chief Jim Ryan would retire next March, with group President Hiroki Totoki to become interim CEO during the search for a successor.

Ryan, who is British, become CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) in 2019 and oversaw initiatives including the launch of the PlayStation 5 console the following year.

"Jim no longer wants to manage the tradeoff between having a job in the US and a home in the UK," SIE said in a statement.

"He has been an inspirational leader, guiding SIE though the global COVID pandemic while leading the launch of PlayStation 5 and making it PlayStation's most successful platform."

Totoki would serve as interim CEO for a year at most and it is possible a successor could be appointed by the time Ryan retires, a Sony spokesperson said.

"Ryan's career as CEO was cut a bit short, many leaders in gaming stay on much longer," said Serkan Toto, founder of consultancy Kantan Games.

Sony expects to sell a record 25 million PlayStation 5 consoles this financial year following the easing of supply chain snarls but in August said it was resorting to promotions to help momentum due to weaker-than-expected sales.

Ryan's successor faces challenges, including driving a push outside Sony's traditional focus on single-player console games with more titles on PC and smartphone and a ramp-up in live service games, which offer continuous, updated play.

"Sony is in a great position in the console war with Microsoft right now, but gaming is set to change dramatically over the next few years," said Toto.

Longer term, the gaming unit, a major profit contributor at the Japanese conglomerate, must navigate an industry in flux as advances in smartphones and cloud technology raise doubts about the need for stand-alone consoles with games that can cost $70 each.

Milestones during Ryan's tenure included acquisitions of studios such as "Destiny" developer, Bungie, to maintain an edge over Xbox maker Microsoft, and the launch of a virtual reality headset in an attempt to make the technology mainstream.

"Jim Ryan has been a great contributor to our industry and a fierce leader for PlayStation," Xbox head Phil Spencer said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Sony has received plaudits for its pivot to focus on entertainment and found success in efforts to repurpose its franchises with the popular TV adaption of its "The Last Of Us" games series.



Microsoft Faces UK Competition Investigation Over Hiring of AI Startup’s Founder, Key Staff

FILE - Mustafa Suleyman co founder and CEO of Inflection AI speaks to journalist during the AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, England, on Nov. 1, 2023. The Competition and Markets Authority said Tuesday, July 16, 2024 that its review of the hirings from Inflection AI turned up “sufficient information” to open an investigation. Microsoft hired Inflection’s co-founder and CEO Mustafa Suleyman to head up its consumer artificial intelligence business, along with several top engineers and researchers. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
FILE - Mustafa Suleyman co founder and CEO of Inflection AI speaks to journalist during the AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, England, on Nov. 1, 2023. The Competition and Markets Authority said Tuesday, July 16, 2024 that its review of the hirings from Inflection AI turned up “sufficient information” to open an investigation. Microsoft hired Inflection’s co-founder and CEO Mustafa Suleyman to head up its consumer artificial intelligence business, along with several top engineers and researchers. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
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Microsoft Faces UK Competition Investigation Over Hiring of AI Startup’s Founder, Key Staff

FILE - Mustafa Suleyman co founder and CEO of Inflection AI speaks to journalist during the AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, England, on Nov. 1, 2023. The Competition and Markets Authority said Tuesday, July 16, 2024 that its review of the hirings from Inflection AI turned up “sufficient information” to open an investigation. Microsoft hired Inflection’s co-founder and CEO Mustafa Suleyman to head up its consumer artificial intelligence business, along with several top engineers and researchers. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
FILE - Mustafa Suleyman co founder and CEO of Inflection AI speaks to journalist during the AI Safety Summit in Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, England, on Nov. 1, 2023. The Competition and Markets Authority said Tuesday, July 16, 2024 that its review of the hirings from Inflection AI turned up “sufficient information” to open an investigation. Microsoft hired Inflection’s co-founder and CEO Mustafa Suleyman to head up its consumer artificial intelligence business, along with several top engineers and researchers. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

British regulators opened a preliminary investigation on Tuesday into Microsoft's hiring of an AI startup's key staff over concerns that it could thwart competition in the booming artificial intelligence market.

The Competition and Markets Authority said its review of the hirings from Inflection AI, including its co-founder and CEO Mustafa Suleyman, turned up “sufficient information” to open an investigation.

Microsoft hired Suleyman to head up its consumer artificial intelligence business earlier this year, and brought over several top engineers and researchers. Suleyman co-founded the AI research lab DeepMind, which is now owned by Google, before setting up Inflection and is considered an influential figure in the AI world, The AP reported.

The watchdog has indicated that it was assessing whether the hirings amount to a merger that results in “a substantial lessening of competition” in the UK's AI market, in breach of the country's antitrust rules.

“We are confident that the hiring of talent promotes competition and should not be treated as a merger," Microsoft said in a statement. "We will provide the UK Competition and Markets Authority with the information it needs to complete its inquiries expeditiously.”

The British watchdog has until Sept. 11 to decide whether to give its approval or escalate the probe into an in-depth investigation. The authority has the power to reverse deals or impose fixes to address competition concerns.

Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have become concerned about how the biggest technology companies are gobbling up the talent and products of innovative AI startups without formally acquiring them.

Three members of the US Senate wrote last week to antitrust enforcers at the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, urging them to investigate Amazon's purchase of San Francisco-based Adept. The deal will result in Adept's CEO and key employees going to Amazon and giving the e-commerce giant a license to Adept’s AI systems and datasets.