Sony Corp. promoted John Kodera as the new head of PlayStation, the electronic giant’s most important division and largest growth driver.
Kodera, who has primarily worked on online service PlayStation Network, will take over as chief executive officer at subsidiary Sony Interactive Entertainment, replacing Andrew “Andy” House who ran the unit since 2011. House will remain as chairman through the end of the year and then pursue what he called “new challenges” outside of Sony without elaborating in detail.
The appointment comes at a critical time for Sony. Shares are trading close to a nine-year high on expectations games will continue to boost growth, but with the PlayStation 4 console heading toward the end of its lifecycle analysts are starting to question what comes next. Kodera’s efforts to add non-gaming content to the PlayStation Network show that Sony’s chief Kazuo Hirai sees the addition of TV shows, movies and music as one way to ease the earnings volatility between console lifecycles.
“John Kodera has led Sony’s network service business since 2013 and played a pivotal role in its growth,” Hirai said ina statement. “With the significance of network services increasing across the entire Sony Group, I believe that John is ideally equipped to build on the foundations Andy has left in place.”
Games made up21 percent of Sony’s total revenue last fiscal year and 36 percent of its operating income. During the period, PlayStation Network for the first time generated the majority of the games division’s revenue, as online subscriptions and digital downloads outweighed hardware sales.
Kodera, 47, has worked on the PlayStation Network since 2010, launching TV service Vue, game-streaming platform Now, and a partnership withSpotify Ltd. to bring more non-gaming content to the network’s 70 million users. Prior to that, he worked in the company’s audio and PC businesses. He joined Sony in 1992.
“I intend to build on the amazing progress Andy has made enhancing the PlayStation brand and expanding the game and network services business, and will strive to further strengthen the unique value proposition we are able to offer via the PlayStation platform,” said Kodera.
Under House, 52, Sony regained its lead in the gaming industry, with the PS4 outselling Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One by more than three to one. He has also worked on bringingvirtual reality to the masses, with the PlayStation VR now the industry-leading high-end headset after selling more than a million units since launching a year ago.
“PlayStation has been a huge part of my life for more than 20 years but with the business having achieved record-breaking success, now seemed to be the right time for me to pursue new challenges,” said House.