Many have complained that, other than a few shiny-looking games, Sony’s recent showing at this year’s E3 has been somewhat lacking. Looking at previous years that’s probably true. But at least there’s one piece of PlayStation-related news that we can get behind; Sony has begun handing out PlayStation certifications to 3rd-party manufacturers and HTC is the first official recipient.
So what does this mean? Firstly, Sony has taken what was previously known as the PlayStation Suite – the system whereby the PS Vita and Sony Ericsson Xperia Play accessed downloadable content – and renamed it PlayStation Mobile. It’s a good move by the gaming giant, as in recent years the portable console industry has been ravaged by the increasing popularity of mobile gaming.
Following the fantastic failure that the Xperia Play turned out to be, Sony has had to look elsewhere to make up for lost sales in portable gaming. Extending access to PlayStation Mobile to other Android devices was a logical next-step, as it should increase Sony’s portable game consumer-base substantially. Of course Sony Android phones have now lost the allure of being the only devices that are PlayStation certified, but as Sony seems to have discovered it was hardly ever a major selling point anyway. Better to focus on selling handsets by providing a superior overall experience and expanding an otherwise neglected potential consumer base (that of the PlayStation Mobile market) as much as possible.
PlayStation Mobile is basically Sony’s own gaming market with a wide variety of titles to choose from. Most titles are older PlayStation games that have been revitalised. Smartphones have advanced to the point where these older games can now be easily supported and redesigned to utilise a touchscreen interface.
Right now we’re not sure if HTC will be moving forward on a phone-by-phone basis, with some devices boasting PlayStation certs and others not. We also have no idea if this certification will work retro-actively, giving folk who already own an HTC handset access to the PS Mobile network. If it is retroactive, it’s likely to come in the form of an update and also likely to require a device with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) at least, possibly even Android 5.0 Jelly Bean when it’s released later this year.
One thing is for certain, by scoring a big Android player like HTC Sony is bound to have grabbed the attention of other Android OEMs like Samsung, Motorola and LG. Hopefully, if PS Mobile on Android is successful, this means that we could start seeing PlayStation games on all new Android devices within the next year or two. That would certainly give Windows Phone a run for its money with its Xbox-Live integration.
We think this is a great, if somewhat unexpected move by Sony. It should expand Sony’s software consumer base and represents Sony’s acknowledgement that it will take more than exclusive services to win the smartphone game.
It’s also a win for Android. Traditionally Android has had to play second fiddle to iOS in terms of gaming and app support. With PlayStation Mobile hitting Android first that playing field could be substantially levelled. Then again who’s to say that we won’t see PS Mobile on the next generation of iPhone?