Market Insight

Sony signs new partners for PlayStation Mobile

August 16, 2012

Jack Kent Jack Kent Director, Media and Advertising

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Sony Computer Entertainment has announced device-manufacturers ASUS and WikiPad will join HTC as licensees for its forthcoming PlayStation Mobile platform. PlayStation Mobile, to be launched this autumn, is a multi-screen games service that will be available on non-Sony Android devices from approved partners. The dedicated content for PlayStation Mobile devices will be available through PlayStation Store and requires users to log-in with a PlayStation ID. The service will initially launch in Japan, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia with other countries to follow. At launch, the services will have 30 in-house and third party titles. 85 publishers and developers have signed up as partners for the programme.

At first, rather than generating significant revenues from the sale of PlayStation-branded mobile games Sony's move is more about establishing a market presence in mobile gaming by expanding their products to non-Sony branded smartphones. A giant in the wider video-games industry, Sony's moves into mobile games so far have been fairly limited. The (then) Sony Ericsson Xperia Play launched in 2011 was the first PlayStation-branded smartphone, but it failed to reach a mass audience. As Sony Mobile (now fully-owned by Sony following the end of the Ericsson joint-venture) struggles for smartphone market share, it is the right move for it expand beyond its own-brand devices to secure a foothold in the mobile games business.

To access the service, consumers will have to create a PlayStation Network ID, a move which will help Sony keep users in its ecosystem across a range of devices. The success of this initiative relies primarily on the strength of the PlayStation brand and the perceived value of the PlayStation network and community among both existing PlayStation users and the wider addressable market of mobile games players. By expanding on to third-party devices, Sony is widening its user acquisition net not only for its PSN content but also for its own dedicated games devices.  

Sony's move to enable consumers to play their purchased PS Mobile games on other mobile devices and the PS Vita is in line with a broader trend of cross platform multi-screen services in the industry such as Microsoft's Xbox Live (available on Windows Phone smartphones) and Xbox Smart Glass.

In light of Sony's recent acquisition of video streamed games-on-demand provider Gaikai, a compression technology and cloud delivery infrastructure that enables high-end content on limited or thin-clients, the growth of the PlayStation mobile brand is likely to be a vital step in Sony's multi-screen and dual-screen evolution.

The PlayStation Suite, an aspect of Sony's earlier foray into mobile games, aimed to bring legacy first generation PlayStation (PS One) games to mobile and struggled to garner much enthusiasm. The new PS Mobile service has shifted focus to new titles, a positive move that will help it attract a wider audience of mobile games players. With only 30 titles scheduled for launch, Sony must work quickly to build its catalogue, and take into account the business models that succeed in the mobile games business (where freemium titles and in-app purchases dominate, but paid-downloads still have a role). The challenge for Sony will be in finding the right balance in business model and monetisation for its content on both third-party mobile platforms and its own dedicated games devices. At present these devices have a limited overlap in monetisation strategy, but a successful PS Mobile roll-out may drive forward more monetisation convergence.   

 

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