Jack Tretton, reflecting on his recently closed tenure as PlayStation's top U.S. executive, called the PlayStation 4 "a great redemption" in light of Sony's struggles with the PS3, and said the PS4's successful launch allowed him to end his 19-year career on a high note.
Tretton, who left Sony on April 1 and joined the board of an artificial intelligence startup, joined Sony when it started its PlayStation division in 1995, and spent the past seven years as president of Sony Computer Entertainment America. Even if he will be at E3 as an analyst for Spike TV's coverage, he told GamesIndustry International that he isn't looking to return to the world of console gaming anytime soon.
"I really see myself more in a free agent role and really trying to branch out and smell the fresh air of being able to be platform agnostic and not just dedicated to console gaming," he said. "I've really been spending more of my time during the last couple months looking into mobile gaming and other forms of entertainment that I haven't had the time or ability to focus on."
Though he said he hasn't spent much time reflecting on his Sony career since leaving, Tretton did call the PlayStation 3 era "the most challenging time," in a career that began with the creation of the first PlayStation.
"The most challenging time I think was establishing PlayStation 3 and establishing Blu-ray technology and the financial challenges that went along with the PS3," Tretton said. "But that's where PlayStation 4 was such a great redemption. Figuring everything out and making that platform such a success quite frankly contributed to me being more comfortable with getting on to the rest of my career."
Launched in 2006, the PS3 had a difficult time gaining traction in large part to a high initial retail price and issues with the diversity of its game catalog. The console was sold at a loss to Sony for several years, though it rallied later in the PS3's lifespan with strong video games exclusive to the console, and popular ideas like PlayStation Plus, which delivered recent big-name games free to subscribers.
Tretton said leaving PlayStation has opened up his perspective on the wider world of video games development and publishing. "In my travels over the last couple months I'm just floored by the number of incredibly successful companies that I wasn't even aware of because they weren't on console or on PlayStation," he said. "There's a huge number of successful companies out there making great games."