Sony Computer Entertainment is unifying its game studios, casting off the old distinctive names of development studios in North America, Europe, and Japan in favor of the all-encompassing name Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios. The move will provide a more unified front to the Sony business, useful for pursuing sales on a global market. According to Sony, the move will help the company push well established game franchises beyond local popularity; you won't see US hits as much as games that are popular across boarders. At least, that's the idea.
So hello, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios.
The move comes as Sony attempts to shore up market share against the onslaught of systems from both Microsoft and Nintendo. Sony launched the PSP in Europe recently with record success, but the handheld system continues to be outperformed by the Nintendo DS in Japan and the United States. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Xbox and Xbox 360 continue to threaten Sony's dominance of the home console universe.
During all of this, Sony still maintains that the Nintendo DS is a "gimmick" and the Xbox is not a concern.
The last several years have been difficult for Sony, which reported nearly a billion dollar loss just two years ago, and experienced a 12% loss in stock value. The company has since undergone significant management restructuring, and launched their PSP handheld system on a global scale. In contrast, Nintendo has posted operating profits of varying size over the course of the last few years, mainly because of the success of their handheld platforms. Microsoft, for what it's worth, has reported losses of hundreds of millions of dollars every year since the launch of the Xbox; they just don't really care.
Microsoft's revenue from other areas of its business counterbalance their console division's tremendous loses. Microsoft has always maintained that they did not expect to achieve market dominance during the Xbox's generation of game consoles, stating it wasn't until the release of the next generation, the Xbox 360, that they expected to make significant inroads against Sony and Nintendo. This is partially the reason we now see Microsoft rushing the development of the next generation of consoles.