Monday Musings 3/10/14

Monday Musings 3/10/14

It's warming up (i.e. above freezing) here in the mitten (only to subsequently freeze up again on Wednesday), so it's only natural that a fresh Monday Musings follows suit! My keyboard fingers burn with a fervent yearn to clack, so I guess it's time for me to say random things and hope for the best! What's knocking around the ol' cranial cavity today?

I was shocked to hear that Jack Tretton's long-standing tenure as SCEA's head honcho was coming to an end.  After 19 years, four home and two handheld console launches, Jack and Sony have decided to go their separate ways as part of "a mutual agreement." I'm sad to see Jack go, as I thought he was a genuinely cool dude and always came off as appreciative and humble to the fans.  Along with guys like [President of Worldwide Studios, SCE] Shuhei Yoshida, and third-party relations guru Adam Boyes, Jack was one of the prominent faces of the PlayStation brand, especially here in North America where he was the President of SCEA.  So then I started thinking, how often do you pay attention to the CEO/President of a company insomuch that, if he/she were to leave, you would legitimately feel a sense of regret  and/or sadness at the prospects of the company having to move on without them?  Granted, this is something unique to the gaming industry, with figureheads and suits often the representative public face of the company, whether through E3 press conferences, gaming launch events, or the like, but it's still an interesting phenomenon nonetheless.  Peruse the comments section of any of the myriad blog posts dedicated to the news of Jack's impending departure, and you'll find a PlayStation Nation full of bittersweet appreciation and mixed emotions...

You'll even find that in Xbox Nation.

Of course, most will fondly remember Jack as the face and voice of Sony's E3 press conferences over the years.  Like I mentioned earlier, Jack always came off as such a cool guy; more gamer-like-me-and-you than corporate suit.  He was the perfect antithesis to Microsoft's (recently departed from the company) President of Interative Entertainment Business and stilted E3 host, Don Mattrick.  Don was the living embodiment of Microsoft's generally perceived stuffy businessman culture, and it was almost as if Sony and Jack realized this as they planned their various conferences.  With great comedic timing, Jack was never one to shy away from a good natured ribbing, whether directed at himself in classic self-deprecating fashion, or at his industry rivals...


"So then I started thinking, how often do you pay attention to the CEO/President of a company insomuch that, if he/she were to leave, you would legitimately feel a sense of regret and/or sadness at the prospects of the company having to move on without them?"

A couple of moments from Jack's tenure immediately stand out.  His ultimate highlight may have come last year during Sony's now legendary 2013 E3 press conference.  In the ramp up to the arrival of next-gen, the media was buzzing over Microsoft's implementation of DRM and attempted push for a console that was always online.  When Jack stood in front of a packed crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and denounced any and all forms of DRM to a standing ovation from the assembled press, you could at once see both a sense of verified pride and embarrassed, giddy excitement.  This was a clear signal to Microsoft and no doubt a catalyst towards their future 180 on digital rights policies.  Then there was the infamous (no, not that one) PSN hack of 2011, which saw the PlayStation Network offline for 24 days, victimized by an elite group of computer hackers who may have gained access to users' personal data. During E3 that year, Jack once again took the stage at E3 and opened up the conference with a heartfelt apology in his first opportunity to publicly address the situation with media and fans.  It felt genuine, as Jack's speeches generally did, and it began a journey to right the proverbial sinking ship that Jack guided all the way through the launch of the PS4...

And so here we are presently, and come March 31st, 2014, Sony will say goodbye to its North American commander-in-chief.  It's a significant loss for the company, and I can only hope that his replacement (former Sony Network Entertainment EVP and COO Shawn Layden) is able to grab the baton from Jack and continue on this next-gen relay race that couldn't have started out any better for Sony.  Sony's mantra of "Gamers first" has resonated with me and millions of other PlayStation fans across the world, and Jack deserves a lot of credit for Sony's current good fortunes.  Thanks for everything, Jack!  We'll miss you, and good luck in your future endeavors!...

If you're so inclined, share your fondest Jack Tretton memories in the comments below!...

You know, I'm not so sure Jack was ready to leave Sony.  He always seemed, in interviews at least, to really love his job at PlayStation.  When he talked about Sony, the fans, and his position with the company, I always got the impression that he felt like he had the best job in the world. Even in his statement regarding his departure, it felt almost melancholy and disappointed.  I'm wondering if this was a money driven thing.  We know that Sony, with the exception of its booming business in the PlayStation division, has been struggling throughout many of its company-wide departments, most notably in its Television sector.  While the company continues to make smart decisions in order to get back in the black under the guidance of Kaz Hirai, sometimes tough decisions need to be made, and I'm wondering if Jack's departure wasn't one of these tough decisions.  Could Jack have been in a situation where he wasn't able to negotiate the raise in pay he felt, deservedly so, he was entitled to?  It's an interesting thought...


"When Jack stood in front of a packed crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and denounced any and all forms of DRM to a standing ovation from the assembled press, you could at once see both a sense of verified pride and embarrassed, giddy excitement."

In other Sony megaton news, the writer and creative voice behind the Uncharted franchise, Amy Hennig, has left Naughty Dog!  While there have been rumors of tumult over at the studio between a few of its members, Naughty Dog has come out and put to rest the notion that anyone other than Co-Presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra are behind any of the studio's recent, or future, creative shuffles.  As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in-between. I don't doubt that creative differences may have arisen between prominent members of the studio (this is something that happens unfortunately), but I'm more skeptical of the Druckmann/Straley "forced out" angle.  We may never get the full story as Naughty Dog and Hennig don't seem particularly eager to elaborate any further on this situation, and as far as I'm concerned, that's ok.  I wish Amy Hennig the best on the next chapter in her life, and her considerable talents are going to be a boon for the next studio that hires her...

Now, the real question surrounding all of this is how does this affect, arguably, Sony's most important franchise?  As talented as Hennig was and is, I honestly don't think Uncharted misses a beat.  The talent at Naughty Dog is undeniable, and their standards of storytelling and game presentation are peerless in this industry.  Uncharted is too important to Sony, and too beloved amongst fans and the studio alike, for Naughty Dog to do anything but right by the franchise.  I personally can't wait to see where the story goes from here!  Right now, I definitely see this as Sony's tent-pole game for 2015...

Random thought:  coconut is a damn fine product.  Damn fine...

Comment of the week: "Standby for Towerfall." (User liammill18 on the PS Blog... nicely done!)


"I'm inching closer towards possibly picking this up on PC or Xbox 360 to see what all the fuss is about..."

Speaking of Titanfall, it *ahem* drops on Tuesday and reviews are through the roof! Watching video of the game, it looks totally killer.  I'm inching closer towards possibly picking this up on PC or Xbox 360 to see what all the fuss is about...

I'm still chugging away on Thief on the PS4, and I gotta say, this game is much, much larger than I originally anticipated.  11 hours in, I still have plenty of story and a wealth of side missions to attempt.  This is not even counting the challenge mode or The Bank Heist DLC.  While it has its share of issues, both technically and otherwise, on the gameplay front it's a generally fun experience.  Our full review is coming soon...

Infamous: Second Son  is a mere 11 days away from Monday.  Excitement is palpable...

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Buy Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Buy Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster

Monday Musings 3/3/14

Monday Musings 3/3/14