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Jim Ryan admits challenging PS5 launch left him with ‘head in hands’

As he prepares to leave Sony after three decades, Jim Ryan speaks on the PS5's difficult start to life and names his favorite PlayStation games ever.

Jim Ryan PS5 launch: A headshot of Jim Ryan wearing a cream shirt. A PS5 console and PS5 logo are on either side of him

After a 30-year stint at Sony which has seen him work his way up to be the head honcho of PlayStation, Jim Ryan will leave the company in March. In a new interview, Ryan says that the biggest challenge he faced in his entire career was the launch of the PS5, something that often left him with ‘his head in his hands’. He also names his favorite games of each console generation.

While the PS5 has gone on to be one of the best games consoles ever (both in terms of the features it offers and the quality of the best PS5 games you can play on it), getting it in players’ hands has not been straightforward. The pandemic, which came just a few months after the PS5 came out, made things difficult on both the hardware and software sides of things. Units couldn’t be made and shipped fast enough, and marketable new PS5 games people wanted to play were becoming harder to make.

“We assemble the great majority of the PlayStations in China, and nobody could get in. Finishing games when developers couldn’t get together and eat pizza and brainstorm about their craft was another thing,” he tells Variety. “And then, the not-unimportant task of selling our product to our consumers when retail was entirely closed.”

“It was my job to exude a sense of calm and serenity… Actually, I was there at my dining-room table, head in my hands, wondering how we were going to do this,” he admits.

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After an extremely slow and difficult start to the generation, the fortunes of the PS5 did improve. It has sold over 50 million units now, which is more than double the amount of Series X and S consoles Xbox has managed to shift in the same time period. However, some troubles still persist. Sony recently brought down its forecasted PS5 sales by four million units and players are about to endure a long dry spell without any new games from its “major” franchises.

Speaking of major franchises, it’s unsurprising that when quizzed about what his favorite games of each console generation are, Ryan leans heavily towards PlayStation exclusives.

For the PS1 era, he opts for Ridge Racer – a surprise, given that the original Gran Turismo was there for easy pickings when it comes to the best racing games. For the PS2, Sony’s best-selling console to date, Ryan picks Grand Theft Auto 3 – again, a surprise that this gets the nod over the likes of GTA Vice City or San Andreas of that era, but each to their own.

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Then Ryan shows his full dedication for Sony’s first-party games. The original Uncharted is his PS3 favorite, while Marvel’s Spider-Man is his pick for the best PS4 game. For the current generation, God of War Ragnarok gets his vote. To be fair, that’s a more than commendable lineup of the best games ever on each Sony system.

For more PlayStation news, check out which Xbox exclusive is heading to PS5 first as part of Microsoft’s new strategy, and read why we think Sony needs to start giving some love to forgotten series like inFamous and Killzone.