Sony has played executive musical chairs in its game division once again. Andrew House, until recently the chief marketing officer for all of Sony, has been appointed president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.
The move is a big one — Europe is a key battleground in the console war. Nintendo and Sony dominate in Japan. Nintendo and Microsoft lead in the U.S. But Europe has always been up for grabs in this generation of console competition, particularly as Sony and Microsoft vie for the No. 2 spot.
House will be responsible for sales of the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation Network in Europe and the Middle East. Running the regional territories has become a tough job with Nintendo dominating in all markets with its Wii console.
Effective May 1, House replaces Dave Reeves, who is retiring from Sony at the end of April. Reeves joined Sony’s European game operation in 1995, just as the original PlayStation was finding its footing on the continent. In 2003, he was appointed president and chief operating officer and then chief executive two years later.
House joined Sony’s corporate communications division in 1990 and moved to the game division in 1995. He started to run game marketing in the U.S. in 1996, and then became head of relations with third-party game publishers. In 2005, he was promoted to chief marketing officer for all of Sony. So, in a way, his new job is a lateral move — or even step down. But the role is clearly critical to the company’s mission.
I used to interview House when he was head of third-party game publishing at Sony’s U.S. game headquarters in Foster City, Calif. He was one of the executives who helped Sony wrestle the top spot from Nintendo with the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. It was always funny to see House, on the short side, standing next to then Sony games R&D chief Phil Harrison, who was a bear of a man.
Respect for House runs high in game industry circles. Sony built loyalty through massive advertising and gigantic events. I could always find House wandering among thousands of people at Sony’s legendary E3 parties, which spanned multiple tents on a hilltop near Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. That was the heyday of Sony’s market image, and a time that I associate with House’s marketing leadership.
He’s a sharp guy with a British accent who’s also fluent in Japanese, if that tells you anything. And he’s a key member of the crew that helped make the PlayStation brand into a household name. Based on all the above, it looks like Europe is in good hands.