Jack Tretton is a man I once likened to having the presence of an awkward neighbour embarrassingly knocking on your door, scuffing his heels and looking at the floor whilst mumbling the news that he’d just reversed into your Aston Martin.
It was with this precise demeanour that he slunk out onto the stage year after year to monotonously drone on about some disappointing looking games, to tell you all that your bank details had been left by the service door and thus stolen, or to make uncouth jokes about someone’s death. He was a man like no other. Chiefly because he appeared to be made of some sort of Incompetence Gloup good only for stammering, getting everything wrong and putting entire rooms to sleep while holding £500 worth of kit in his hands. And probably dropping it.
The fact the man was at the reins of SCEA as the company plunged chin first into a hilarious corkscrew of catastrophic ineptitude is enough for most people to brand him a cloddish old fool and have done. We certainly did. And whilst year after year he stood alongside Don Mattrick, somehow making him look half way palatable to anyone with a head (which, as it turns out, he’s not) and cowering as Reggie Fils Aime dwarved him in both readiness of body, and public speaking ability, it is undeniable that he became part of the E3 furniture. And all those other beige conferences he probably attended.
Indeed, Tretton’s tactless, boorish manner became something to love and to cherish; and as Sony stumbled with the blind, co-ordination of an intoxicated horse on a hot tin field through the last generation, making an increasingly large outright blunder of everything in its path with each passing moment, so too, did Jack Tretton. That was of course, until last year. When Sony, and ol’ Captain Apology, finally got their shit together.
What we saw at E3 2013 was a different Tretton. A Tretton that knew he had the winning hand. Confidence boosted like never before (though this still left him with the constitution and permanence of a steadily deflating bouncy castle) grins, jokes that weren’t about dead people; the Sony conference had it all. When he walked out on to that stage, coy smile in tow, he knew he was about kill this thing dead, and that performance made all the difference.
And it was the performance element that did it. We mentioned this in our round up, but complain you might that Sony haven’t quite delivered the gaming utopia they promised, and Microsoft’s back pedalling has been ineffably furious, but that show, that revered ‘dropping of the mic’ that Tretton pulled out was one of those classic E3 moments that can never be erased, no matter what happens now or in the future.
And so it is with a surprisingly heavy heart that we bid Jack Tretton his due this evening. The news came through that he would be stepping down from his position as President and Chief of Sony Computer Entertainment America, effective as of 1st April.
“Working at SCEA for the past 19 years has been the most rewarding experience of my career, Although I will deeply miss the talented team at SCEA and the passion demonstrated every day by our fans, I’m very excited about starting the next chapter of my career.”
The Playstation 4 has had a comparatively tremendous early start to this generation, and you Mr. Tretton, leave behind a brilliant, disastrous, unforgettable legacy. We’ll never forget you tearing off your shirt and crowd surfing to the bar at E3 2013, and yes, that definitely did happen. Jack Tretton; we at Respawn salute you.