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We come not to bury Kutaragi, but to praise him

Sony has dominated video game consoles since the launch of the first PlayStation in the mid-90s, and the company has long been known for top-quality consumer electronics. In the past few years, Sony has seen their electronics market share diminish due to the lower prices of competitors like Samsung and Toshiba, and their fortunes didn't improve with the release of their expensive and much-hyped PlayStation 3 to lukewarm reviews and diminishing sales. HangZhou Night Net

Sir Howard Stringer has been attempting to improve the fortunes of the company, and the stock is once again rising. In thisperiod of change we now learn that the head of SCEI and the "father of the PlayStation" Ken Kutaragi is stepping down. While theexact reason for the change is unknown, Sony's game's division has suffered heavy losses in recent quarters and there have been widespread reports of Kutaragi's inability to work with other Sony executivesfor positive change.

Theeasy jokes about "Crazy Ken's" notable quotes shouldn't take away the long list of accomplishments that Ken Kutaragi has enjoyed since joining Sony directly aftergraduating from the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo. After seeing the promise of big profits in video games with the rise of the Famicom, he pushed for Sony's inclusion in the Super Famicom system via Sony's SPC700 sound chip.

His reputation as a maverick iswell-earned. After Nintendo snubbed Sony while they were working on a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Famicom, the betrayal caused Sony to launch their own system: the PlayStation. The disc-based system took off and cemented Sony's place in gaming history after the Sega Saturn failed to sell in high numbers and the Nintendo 64 was hampered by its cartridge-based technology. With the launch of the PlayStation 2, Sony stood high above their competitors with full backwards compatibilityfor the original PlayStation and what was (at the time) an inexpensive DVD player. Sony Computer Entertainment became one of the company's biggest profit centers, and Kutaragi enjoyed the ride with a solid vision and some memorably wacky quotes.

Hecontinued to build hisreputation up until the launch of the PlayStation 3, claiming that the system would allow you to visit a "4D" world and that people will want to work harder to afford one. He also claimed that the system shouldn't be looked at as a games console. The inclusion of the Blu-ray drivedrove up the price and so far hasn't proved as strong of a sales motivator as the PlayStation 2's DVD drive.

Nintendo also proved to be a stronger competitor than Sony expected; the dominance of the Nintendo DS is a major obstacleto Sony's own portable, the PSP. The market has changed since the rise of Ken Kutaragi, and Sony now has to catch up. After a shaky US launch and before the European release, he was famously quoted admitting that Sony was losing their foothold in the market. "If you asked me if Sony's strength in hardware was in decline, right now I guess I would have to say that might be true," he said in an uncharacteristically candid moment.

Ken Kutaragi will be replaced by Kazuo Hirai, but will continue to work as a senior technology adviser for Sony. A shakeup in the command structure behind thePS3 may have a positive effect on future sales and strategy, turning thestruggling platform into a profitable business. Let's take this moment to thank Ken Kutaragi for his many innovative ideas and enthusiastic spirit in the world of gaming. Remember him every time you notice how great the Super Nintendo sounds, or how the PlayStation 2 led to the wider appeal of DVDs. We're looking forward to seeing his future projects.

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