You know how sometimes you get those smarty-pants articles that ask a question about some technology or other and then use this cunning Socratic premise to provide pithy, sardonic insight into a seemingly straightforward proposition? Right, this isn’t one of those articles. This is a genuine request. What exactly is PlayStation Mobile?
I get the sales pitch. “PlayStation Mobile offers snack-sized games across a variety of ‘PlayStation-Certified’ devices. With user friendly development tools, publishers and bedroom developers alike can now offer unique and creative games to the PlayStation community”. That’s what the press release says. But what does it actually mean? I know that the whole service evolved out of an earlier Sony initiative called PlayStation Suite, which looked to offer developers a friendly SDK on which to code games for Sony android devices. It was always a bit more than that, but now it has evolved further, into something which seeks to create some kind of branded hub world within the Android domain; and which offers competibility with the Vita. It seems users will need Android 2.3 devices, and we know that Asus and Wikipad have signed up their latest tablets, which is awesome. But yes, what does it all mean?
Partly, of course, it’s all about that perenial problem of the smartphone gaming age: discovery. Developers are having trouble getting their games noticed on app stores where hundreds of new titles are released each week, so anything that helps to aggregate that experience is good news. It seems Sony is only going to certify really good titles for the programme, and during its Gamescom press conference, we saw the likes of Super Crate Box, Aqua Kitty, Samurai Beatdown, Passing Time, BeatSlider, Flick Hockey and Lemmings. Which all look great and will no doubt benefit from the patronage of Sony, a consumer electronics giant that people have heard of from PlayStation and televisions and stuff.
So presumably, supporting handsets and tablets will have a PLayStation Mobile logo on their UIs inviting people along to the site. How is this monetised? Is there any sort of cross-game promotion? Is there a social layer? And who is the competition? GameTanium? Zynga With Friends? Gree?
I am of course hitting Sony up for some official answers, but I’m curious, amid all the excitement, who actually understands what all this means? Sony’s support for small studios is to be admired, and having any sort of quality control within the smartphone gaming vortex is to be welcomed with open wallets. But infrastructures should never be the exciting part – they should be invisible, internal; that’s sort of what the word means. You don’t need to clap and cheer at them, you should just know that they work. Anyway, PlayStation Mobile is on developer beta at the moment and will be launching in autumn. I know what autumn is.
Developers – do you know what PlayStation Mobile is? Perhaps you know someone who does? Perhaps you’re developing a game for it and don’t know what it is, but are now too embarrassed to ask? We would love to hear from you!