Jim Ryan gets a lot of trouble from PlayStation fans. Ryan is primarily a businessman – he started building offices and logistics for PlayStation in 1994. His role at PlayStation has always been business-centric, in the background until he was brought into the spotlight at the helm of PlayStation Europe. In 2019 he took over the top position in the company and became CEO and President of PlayStation. But compared to other notable publicly available PlayStation figureheads – Shawn Layden, Adam Boyes, and Shuhei Yoshida, among others – Ryan didn’t have the same kind of charisma, public presence, or connection with fans.
In fact, I’ve written extensively myself about Ryan’s inability to be that relatable mouthpiece for the company. He’s very corporate and feels less like the guy on the controller next to you and more like the one who is counting the money. This makes a lot of sense, given his background in logistics and finance, and whether you like him or not, there’s no doubt that his tenure with the PlayStation company has raised his tenure to levels they would otherwise never have reached. Ryan certainly made a few foot-in-mouth comments that have stirred up the pot over the years, but it comes from a place where public speaking isn’t his forte.
Jim Ryan Fireside Chat allows him to relax
Knowing Jim Ryan’s value for PlayStation as a whole, and considering that against the disapproval he is generating from the community, I was delighted to see that something of a gentler, less “business” thing about his Fireside chat during GI Live Page from Jim Ryan came out. During the 21-minute conversation with Head of GamesIndustry.biz Chris Dring, Jim Ryan can relax and speak more naturally. While still a businessman by nature, we see a side of Ryan that speaks on a deeper level to his 27 years at PlayStation and his passion and drive for the brand over the years. Dring and Ryan are on good terms and naturally able to have conversations that feel casual.
While the talk didn’t drop any bombshell announcements about the future of PlayStation, over the years we’ve got a more complete picture of PlayStation and Ryan’s part in it. Ryan joined the company in 1994, where he was tasked with building PlayStation’s European presence. This meant renting offices, hiring staff, and setting up the systems, processes and sales that would define PlayStation for years. In one case, they didn’t have the money to buy office furniture and had to get a number of desks from Ikea as all of this came before the original PlayStation was sold. “These desks have served us well for a number of years. I was quite proud of these desks. Ikea. I recommend it to everyone, ”Ryan said smiling and laughing.
Throughout the chat, Ryan still exudes an enterprising skill, but he does it in a less scripted way that will help you understand where he’s from. his own story with the brand, where he is now and where the hopes are going. Ryan wants PlayStation games to become more ubiquitous, as ubiquitous as games in general become year on year. Currently the rate is limited by the number of PlayStation consoles on the market. Ryan expresses hope that PlayStation IP can find a more limitless audience of media such as movies and music that are far less constrained by a given platform.
However, he also speaks frankly of the challenges PlayStation faced, specifically mentioning how the company had “struggled through the PS3” and admitted that the PS3 console era was haunted by “well-documented challenges”. He then highlights both the PS4 unveiling at E3 2013 and the uniquely successful, pandemic-ridden PS5 launch as two highlights of his time at PlayStation that were really promising for the brand.
A shy and introverted Jim Ryan
When asked about his transition from a behind-the-scenes role to an increasingly strong corporate figurehead – first at PlayStation Europe and then as CEO and President of the entire brand – Ryan noted that he was “a fairly shy person by nature” and is generally introverted. “I never take public speaking for granted.” However, Ryan loves building relationships within the industry – like the times he sat down with Dring – and says it’s “a pretty fun part of the job now ” is. He goes on to talk about some of his nervous moments before jumping on stage, and also points out how digital events in the pandemic have really changed that high-profile side of things, too.
During the interview, Ryan was asked what makes PlayStation PlayStation. He focuses on three core pillars, the first of which are the games. Second, he mentions the growing sense of community that PlayStation gamers participate in and enjoy, and ultimately chooses the PlayStation brand. “PlayStation has always been cool,” he says. He notes that he is now in the formative months of PS5 where everyone wants to be associated with the console and the brand. Ryan believes and hopes that PS5 will be the most successful and popular PlayStation console to date.
GI Live’s chimney chat made it clear that Jim Ryan is a champion for PlayStation, even if he’s not showing it on quite the same level as the extroverted faces of PlayStation that have existed before. His commitment to the brand dates back to before the first PlayStation was even launched and continues to resonate today. While Ryan is certainly still quite an enterprising person, we’ve seen a side of him here that was a little more relatable and passionate, a little less corporate. Ryan doesn’t just keep the books and sit on conference calls. He enjoys games and primarily enjoys giving his fellow human beings the creative freedom and strength to develop great games. And because he thinks these games are great, he wants more people to have access to them.
I still miss the days of Layden, Shu, and Boyes. I wish we would still see Vita Champion Gio Corsi on stage. I want to feel more silly quick videos and frank comments and the presence of the people behind the PlayStation brand. I want to see more of the PlayStation team, learn more about all of their interests, and be sure this is a passionate company full of people who love games as much as I do. But I was delighted that Jim Ryan was humanized and given the opportunity to speak very openly about his own position with the PlayStation brand. Past, present and future. It’s comforting to know that while Ryan is a little more introverted about public commentary, he has a great deal of care for PlayStation that carries over to his way of dealing with things as well.
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