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According to people with knowledge of the situation, American PlayStation directors visited Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe (SIEE) in London on Tuesday to announce the restructuring of several divisions, including marketing and PR.
[UPDATE: A Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) patent has revealed images of what could be the PS5 controller.]
Affected employees were then given notice and meetings were set for those required to re-interview for their jobs.
PlayStation’s North American arm, Sony Interactive Entertainment America (SIEA), has seen its influence grow significantly in the past year, VGC was told, as the platform holder moves further towards a centralised global structure.
Previously PlayStation’s regional arms were able to act autonomously, signing their own games and setting their own marketing budgets.
This allowed regional departments to specifically cater to their own audiences: PlayStation Move was marketed more heavily in Europe, for example, while Driveclub wasn’t pushed heavily in the US. This had the downside of creating a disjointed group operation, which some third-party publishers are said to have expressed frustration with.
However, following a restructure SIEA is increasingly taking the global lead, VGC understands, with Europe frequently having to take orders from the American operation.
SIEE (formerly SCEE) has been an integral part of PlayStation since the PSOne, having been responsible for mass-market brands such as Wipeout, LittleBigPlanet, Killzone, SingStar, EyeToy and much of PlayStation VR’s output.
However, the feeling among many SIEE employees VGC talked to is that the arm will have a significantly reduced influence during the coming console generation.
SIEA’s influence has become so strong that European employees were not even aware of the US’s decision to announce PlayStation 5 details on publication Wired, VGC was told, and only found out about this year’s pair of reveal articles when they were published.
Similarly, PlayStation’s State of Play live streams, an SIEA initiative, are run out of the US and SIEE is often unaware of their content.
The centralisation has seen a significant number of layoffs across Europe in the past 12 months, culminating in this week’s redundancies, while some dissatisfied senior staff have also left the company.
A number of employees told VGC that they were particularly disappointed SIE had decided to tell them they were facing losing their jobs at the same time as publishing the latest PS5 details, although there was no suggestion the timing was intentional.
SIE formally announced its intention to reorganise the structure of its regional companies on April 1, 2018.
Starting on that date, sales and marketing divisions within SIEA, SIEE and SIEJA were told they would report directly to Jim Ryan, then deputy president and head of global sales and marketing. Ryan later became SIE president and CEO in April 2019.
Sony Interactive Entertainment declined to comment on this article.