And I really mean it this time. I’m not being facetious.
Because you see, Sony Computer Entertainment of America just laid off 80-100 employees. It’s always amusing to read how badly Nintendo is blowing Sony out of the water these days, but when real people lose their jobs because of it, it’s not really very funny any more.
There are two really galling details to this story. First is the press release issued by Sony’s spokesman which is so filled to the brim with PRBS that I almost got methane poisoning just by reading it all in one sitting.
“In an effort to accurately align the company to meet the changing needs of our consumers and of our industry, Sony Computer Entertainment America has found it necessary to analyze our current business and to restructure the company as necessary to continue our standing as the market leader,” SCEA spokesman Dave Karraker told Kotaku this evening, when contacted for comment. ” These restructuring efforts are currently underway and do include the streamlining of our operations and other initiatives to further strengthen the business, reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.”
Of course, this being PR, Sony is not allowed to simply state that the PS3 has been costing way too much, hasn’t been selling enough and the PSP hasn’t been any help either. Corporations simply can’t adimt that they’ve screwed up. To some extent, I understand that, but I really don’t think the suddenly jobless employees would find it very useful to hear that they are being fired to help “accurately align” the company.
The second galling detail of this whole story is that when you boil everything down to its essence, this is all Ken Kutaragi’s fault. Let’s not mince words here. 80-100 people in the United States and as many as 160 people in Europe have lost their livelihoods, and that can all be laid at the feet of Ken Kutaragi. The PS3 isn’t failing to catch fire because any of these people wasn’t working hard enough. None of them decided to make it prohibitively difficult to develop for or price it way out of the budget for even the majority of hard core gamers. This is Kutaragi’s screw up, and now the ground level workers are paying for his arrogance. Meanwhile, Ken Kutaragi has been forced into pasture. It’s a disgrace for him, certainly, but he’s still getting paid and can put food on the table.
Of course, this is the videogame industry and there is a lot of turnover everywhere. And it’s not as if most of these people won’t be able to find jobs elsewhere within a month or two (Microsoft Games Studios is probably hiring in Europe). They’ll make do one way or another. But it’s still a very sad story, and I wish them all the best.