Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) have announced a shakeup at Worldwide Studios; Shuhei Yoshida is stepping down from his president position, and Guerilla Games’ managing director and co-founder Hermen Hulst taking his place.
In a press release released on November 7th, SIE stated that Hulst will take up his new position “effective immediately”, managing and leading all game development across the 14 studios that form Worldwide Studios (including Guerrilla Games, Insomniac Games, Media Molecule, Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch Productions, and more). SIE president and CEO Jim Ryan had high praise for Hulst.
“Hermen is one of the most effective and well-respected leaders in the video game industry. He is a passionate advocate for the teams he leads and understands how to empower creative talent to build great experiences. Worldwide Studios is a critical part of the future success of the company, and we must deliver on the promise we have made to gamers to create imaginative and exciting content that is truly unique to PlayStation. I have no doubt Hermen can lead our teams to deliver compelling and diverse experiences at a steady cadence.”
“I have worked closely with PlayStation and the entire Worldwide Studios family since 2001,” said Hulst, “and I have the utmost respect and admiration for the creative talent and ambitious ideas within the network of studios across the US, Europe, and Japan. I am beyond excited to have the opportunity now to lead such an inspired and talented team whose singular mission is to build amazing games for PlayStation fans.”
Guerilla Games are best know for the Killzone series, as well as their development of the Decima game engine used in Until Dawn, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Death Stranding.
It was also announced that the former head, Shuhei Yoshida, will now lead new “company initiative” that is “focused on celebrating external developers that are creating new and unexpected experiences for the gaming community.” Ryan also seemed delighted with Shu’s involvement in the initiative.
“I am thrilled to announce Shu Yoshida as head of this new initiative. Everybody knows just how passionate Shu is about independent games – they are lifeblood of the industry, making our content portfolio so special for our gamers. These wildly creative experiences deserve focus and a champion like Shu at PlayStation who will ensure the entire SIE organization works together to better engage with independent developers through a culture of supporting and celebrating their contributions to PlayStation platforms.”
Ryan emphasized PlayStation’s commitment to indie developers in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. They forwarded the concerns some indie studios had expressed to them, that PlayStation was scaling back support for smaller studios. Ryan denied this, stating they had continued to support VR indie games, and will continue to support indie studios in general.
“I get this a lot. We feel that it’s not a question of us coming back to the indies, because we feel like we’ve never left. I would just point to the amount of engagement that PlayStation has made with that community over the course of the last three to five years in the VR space. People tend to forget about this, but the amount of indie engagement with VR is actually really very significant. We are very active with them, we’ve been engaged with human resource, we’ve been very financially supportive, we’ve been sharing experiences as people start to learn about what makes a great VR experience.”
“I think we’ve always been there with indies, and when they were fascinated and engaged with virtual reality, that’s when we pivoted our engagement with them. So our work with the indie community has remained at the levels that it was during the early days of PS4.”
In earlier news, Worldwide Studios chairman Shawn Layden left the company on October 1st, 2019. No details were given for his departure at the time.