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Entertainment & Arts

Sony names new head of gaming division

Sony Corp. has promoted Andrew House to president and group chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., the division that encompasses its PlayStation gaming business.

House will report to Kazuo Hirai, who took on the title of chairman of the gaming division. Hirai will replace Akira Sato, who will retire Aug. 31. The promotions take effect Sept. 1.

Sony also said Ken Kutaragi, the outspoken semiconductor engineer credited with creating the original PlayStation, retired Tuesday from his largely ceremonial role as honorary chairman of Sony Computer Entertainment. Kutaragi relinquished active management of the business he created and grew into a powerhouse in 2007 when he stepped down as CEO of the business group.

House, who runs the PlayStation business in Europe, will oversee PlayStation’s global operations. Hirai’s promotion in March gave him control of Sony’s vast consumer electronics business as well as the PlayStation unit.

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Both longtime Sony executives worked closely together in Foster City, Calif., in the 1990s, when House was head of communications and then marketing for the U.S. PlayStation business and Hirai was operational manager and then president of the group.

Sony Computer Entertainment posted its first annual profit in five years for its fiscal year ended March 31. It recorded an operating profit of $429 million on $19 billion in revenues, largely by reducing the cost of producing its PlayStation 3 game console.

Hirai pointed to the challenges ahead as Sony competes with Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo Co. for dominance as the hub of digital entertainment in the living room and in mobile games. Sony has announced it will launch a portable gaming console dubbed Vita this year.

“We are facing new challenges this year,” Hirai said in a statement, “such as the successful launch of PlayStation Vita and further growth of the PS3 platform as well as the expansion of the non-gaming business.”

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alex.pham@latimes.com


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