Japanese-born Hirai took the role as PlayStation’s top dog just after the birth of PS3 in 2006, following over a decade’s hard work building the SCE business in America. He replaced the soon-to-retire Ken Kutaragi – but no one was fooled into thinking this was just replacing one Japanese innovator with another. Hirai brought with him a new global outlook for the PlayStation business, a fitting shift for the division of a previously staunchly Japanese company now run by a Welshman, Sony CEO Howard Stringer.
“I ran SCEA for 12 years, so I bring that region perspective,” he said. “Before, that perspective was focused on: ‘If it’s right for Japan it’s right for the rest of the world.’ But in fact, if it’s right for Japan it’s probably not right for the rest of the world, because the rest of the world has a different retail environment.