Joystiq is among the outlets reporting that Jack Tretton is stepping down as the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America. (That’s the homely moniker for Sony’s PlayStation operations in the United States.) Tretton has been a central part of PlayStation planning and development stateside since SCEA was founded in 1995, and he became CEO in November 2006, the same month that the PlayStation 3 launched. When he leaves his job on March 31—to be replaced by Shawn Layden, an executive from one of Sony’s cloud-services divisions—it will end a tenure that has seen the PlayStation brand endure humiliating lows and more recent triumphs.
During his time as CEO, Tretton’s most visible role in the public has been to serve as the face of the company at the annual E3 trade conference. He’s always had a knack for this job, bringing a calm humanity to Sony’s presentations. That down-to-earth approach served him well in 2011, when he had to apologize for a security breach on the PlayStation Network that exposed millions of players to identity theft. Compounding the disaster, Sony’s ensuing cleanup took the PlayStation Network offline for almost a month.
More recently, Tretton enjoyed a moment of triumph when he opened his E3 2013 keynote with assurances that the PlayStation 4 would not impose creepy restrictions that were, at the time, part of Microsoft’s Xbox One plan.
Although the PlayStation 4 is still in its first year, sales have been strong—in part because Sony’s main competitor, Microsoft, compels Xbox One customers to buy the costly Kinect camera accessory with the main console. Given that the PlayStation has been rejuvenated, this may seem like an odd time for Tretton to leave the company. But if the situation is worse than it seems from the outside, Tretton isn’t letting on (not that you’d expect him to). He’s posted an insubstantial statement on the PlayStation Blog in which he says that “the PlayStation brand has never been stronger [and] PlayStation 4 momentum continues to accelerate.”