A new level for the father of PlayStation

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TOKYO -- Ken Kutaragi, the man known as the father of the PlayStation, is leaving the post of president of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. in a shuffle the company is describing as "a reinforcement of the management team and an opportunity to train the next generation of Sony's leaders."

The move follows well-publicized problems with the launch of PlayStation3, though the company denied that he had been pushed aside.

Kaz Hirai, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, will step in as president and chief operating officer, though Kutaragi will retain his title of group CEO.

Jack Tretton, head of Sony's U.S. gaming arm, will take over for Hirai, becoming the first non-Japanese to take the post.

The company also announced the appointment of board member Akira Sato as vice chairman, while David Reeves, president, CEO and chief operating officer of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, was named deputy president of SCEI in addition to his other roles.

"Mr. Kutaragi has not been put aside and he will remain group CEO with Mr. Hirai reporting to him," said Nanako Kato, a spokeswoman for the company. "The changes are a product of deep discussions and have been approved by the board.

"It takes time to change, and we wanted a reinforcement of the management team and an opportunity to train the next generation of Sony's leaders."

The product that Kutaragi was inextricably linked with, the third generation of the PlayStation, is selling well and the network-games function is proving particularly popular with gamers, Kato said.

Released in Japan and the U.S. on Nov. 17, the console has been plagued with problems including product shortages and hit the market well behind schedule. Its release in Europe has been pushed back until next spring because insufficient numbers are available.
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