Sony Hedges Bets with Playstation Suite

By  |  Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm

While the NGP game console hogged the spotlight at Sony’s press conference in Tokyo on Thursday, the company made another announcement that could prove just as significant.

I’m talking about Playstation Suite, a software framework that will let Android phones run Playstation games. Sony skimped on details, but said Playstation Suite will start with PSOne games when it launches for Android 2.3 phones later this year — that’s “phones” plural, not just the rumored Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, a.k.a. Playstation Phone.

For as long as I’ve been playing video games, no console maker has handed over its ecosystem to other devices in this way. Sony is essentially admitting that it can no longer ignore smartphones, and that selling video games is at least as important as controlling the hardware or the operating system. This is a huge concession.

In fairness, Sony is trying to differentiate the NGP from smartphones.  It runs on a quad-core processor and can reportedly handle Playstation 3 games. It has a 5-inch screen and probably won’t fit in pants pockets. The NGP’s dual analog sticks alone are a feature that smartphones may never enjoy because of space constraints.

But Sony’s attempt to outdo smartphones with the NGP could be futile. The rise of smartphone gaming suggests that most people don’t want 20-hour experiences on their portable devices. They want snacks — fancy ones, even. Not surprisingly, some major publishers now reserve their biggest franchises for the iPhone instead of the PSP or Nintendo DS.

The big three console makers are attacking this problem from different angles. Nintendo hopes that its golden franchises — Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, etc. — will buoy whatever hardware it creates. Microsoft passed on dedicated portable game players and instead built Xbox Live into Windows Phone 7. Sony is targeting Android, regardless of who sells the hardware.

Of course, Sony Ericsson can promote its own phones as the best way to enjoy Playstation games, but Sony’s “hardware neutral” approach to Playstation Suite allows the platform to grow independently. And just in case NGP is a flop, Sony still has eggs in a bigger basket.


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. sittininlab Says:

    Hmm, earlier this week, I thought that EA’s iPhone announcement was a big deal in the iOS v. android battle. This, however, would push in favor of android as also being a viable gaming OS that developers are willing to work with, even if fracturing was an issue.

  2. BigWiggle Says:

    I’m amazed that Sony would do something with so much foresight. I predict much success.

  3. Dave Says:

    I best the sucess of PS1 emulators on android promted them to see the value in doing this. Plus, no one buys PS1 games anymore so why not get a revenue stream from already developed games?

  4. antony46 Says:

    I think sony was a lil bit too late for this, people already play both nintendo and ps tiltles through emulators on android and jailbroken iphones, so why pay for something thats not new and it already exists? Not only was making the ngp a expensive mistake but also a big miscalculation, if people want to play console games on the go they should have made a tablet or a phone for them thats desinged for gaming but has other features that appeal to the public, i agree that the graphics look really good but phones in two years or less are gonna be just as powerful and sony its gonna be in trouble, honestly who is gonna spend over 600 dollars for something that in a year its going to start looking pretty outdated