Shawn Layden, Chairman of Sony Worldwide Studios, will soon depart the company. The announcement was made through the official PlayStation Twitter account, as can be seen below. As Chairman of Worldwide Studios, Layden oversaw top-level machinations at 14 different Sony-owned studios, including Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, Insomniac, and Media Molecule. Layden has worked at Sony in one capacity or another since 1987.
It is with great emotion that we announce that Worldwide Studios Chairman Shawn Layden will be departing SIE. His visionary leadership will be greatly missed. We wish him success in future endeavors and are deeply grateful for his years of service. Thanks for everything, Shawn!
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) September 30, 2019
“It is with great emotion that we announce that Worldwide Studios Chairman Shawn Layden will be departing SIE,” the tweet reads. “His visionary leadership will be greatly missed. We wish him success in future endeavors and are deeply grateful for his years of service. Thanks for everything, Shawn!”
No reason for Layden’s departure was provided as of press time, either through Sony’s official press release hole or Layden’s personal Twitter account. Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida retweeted the PlayStation account’s announcement, but has made no statement himself regarding Layden’s departure.
Despite a career at Sony that encompasses literally my entire lifespan, Layden was not a public figure until he became president of Sony Computer Entertainment America in 2014, following the departure of Jack Tretton. Before that, Layden held executive-level positions at Sony Network Entertainment International (COO), Sony Computer Entertainment Japan (President), and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (VP). Layden first joined Sony in 1987, as a Communications Assistant to Akio Morita, one of Sony’s co-founders.
Since assuming the role of President, Layden has become the de facto face of PlayStation, making most of the brand’s major announcements at industry events like E3 and Gamescom. This trend continued, though in a somewhat diminished fashion, into his (comparatively) brief time as Chairman of Worldwide Studios, which began in March of 2018.
Given the general lack of information surrounding the announcement, it is unclear when Layden will step down from his position, or who will be replacing him. In situations like this, it is common for the departing executive to stick around until the end of the financial quarter or fiscal year, in order to help better protect the stability of the company’s stock value, and to help train in their replacement. As is evident by Layden’s globetrotting history with Sony, his replacement could be sourced from any number of Sony branches, which makes it difficult to predict a possible replacement.
Layden’s departure is the second time this year that the face of a major gaming corporation has decided to step down, following the retirement of Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé last April. Fils-Aimé was succeeded by the aptly named Doug Bowser, who previously held the title of Senior Vice President of sales and marketing at Nintendo of America. Since market competition has a way of forcing product parity between major companies, we expect the next Sony Worldwide Studios Chairman to be named Wallace Bandicoot, or perhaps Leslie Spyro.