Guerrilla Games managing director Hermen Hulst is moving to a new role as head of PlayStation Worldwide Studios. The move comes a little more than a month after the departure of Shawn Layden from his position as Worldwide Studios chairman.
These big moves at PlayStation come as Sony prepares for the launch of the PlayStation 5 in 2020. In October, Sony officially announced the PS5 and revealed that it would be out next holiday season. The new console will of course be a step up in power from the current generation, but is designed to be more energy efficient. Sony is also reportedly banking on backward compatibility and a strong launch library to bring players to its platform. Some titles currently in development, including The Last of Us Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima are expected to be released on both the PS4 and PS5, and rumors of a sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn from Guerrilla Games have been sparked by recent job listings at the developer.
Hulst is immediately stepping into his new role, according to a statement from Sony. Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said that Hulst is “one of the most effective and well-respected leaders in the video game industry,” calling him “a passionate advocate for the teams he leads.” According to Ryan, Sony’s appointment of Hulst, a European, to this central position shows that the company is focused on global growth with the PlayStation 5. Ryan himself is relatively new to his role, taking over as PlayStation’s CEO in April.
The former head of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, is moving into a new role at Sony, where he will support independent developers creating “new and unexpected experiences for the gaming community.” Yoshida had served as president of Worldwide Studios since 2008, and working with smaller developers was a major focus of his time in that role. Ryan called the kind of independent games that Yoshida will now be focusing on more closely “the lifeblood of the industry.”
While the shakeups at Sony may come as a surprise, they seem to point to normal restructuring leading up to the PlayStation 5’s launch. This year also saw the retirement of Kaz Hirai, Sony’s former president, who had been involved with PlayStation since 1995 and was the public face of the company for years. It’s clear that Sony is hoping its fresh leadership will help it take on the challenges of the next console generation, which is set to be a tough fight with the reportedly powerful Xbox Scarlett and the extremely popular Nintendo Switch.