You may not like playing mobile games, but millions upon millions do. Estimates indicate approximately three billion people enjoy some kind of interactive experience on their smartphone, which is almost half the entire planet’s population. That’s a staggering statistic, and it’s not hard to understand why Sony would want to penetrate the market.
The Japanese giant already has its toe in the lucrative sector, with the gacha Fate/Grand Order, an enormously successful turn-based RPG published under Sony Music’s Aniplex umbrella. But while we’ve seen some largely forgettable efforts from the firm to bring its major PS5 and PS4 brands to Google Play and the App Store, it’s never spearheaded a convincing effort.
Games like Run Sackboy Run and the more recent Ultimate Sackboy may have been fun, but they’ve failed to really stand out in a market filled with more popular endless runners. Even the outsourced idle spin-off WipEout Rush never really got a coordinated marketing push from the platform holder – and has since disappeared from mobile storefronts.
It’s been a failed initiative thus far, then, but Sony appears to be taking things seriously this time. While there has been turbulence in its newly established mobile gaming division – Nicola Sebastiani, the Apple Arcade executive it headhunted, left the top position before it even deployed a single title – there are signs it’s doing things the right way this time.
Most importantly, it’s putting experts in place to lead the charge. We’re yet to see anything from Savage Game Studios, the German mobile studio it acquired which recently rebranded as Neon Koi – but this is a developer that exists specifically to make software for smartphones. It’s not pulling resources away from other parts of the company.
Its recently announced partnership with NCSOFT shows how seriously it’s taking things. The Seoul-based giant, which has a history of making MMOs, is strongly rumoured to be converting Guerrilla’s awe-inspiring Horizon franchise into an epic online experience, which will likely be available on smartphones, PC, and consoles.
And perhaps this last sentence is the tidbit that makes Sony’s current push into smartphone gaming make the most sense: the gap has closed between mobile devices and stationary consoles. Some of the biggest games on the planet right now, the likes of Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail, span multiple devices, with full crossplay meaning you can play them pretty much anywhere. We’re not in the era of Snake on a Nokia anymore.
PlayStation will, of course, be eyeing the insane revenues these experiences drive – but it’ll also be looking for ways in which it can broaden the appeal of its brands. The console maker’s current strategy is to diversify its portfolio, and ensure its biggest franchises are accessible to everyone. This includes releasing on PC and even transforming series like The Last of Us into popular TV shows.
The reality is that there are many people in the world who don’t own a PlayStation – but by bringing those brands outside of its ecosystem, it can still profit from them and heighten their overall appeal. This not only ensures the franchises have a lucrative future, but it may even convince non-owners to pick up a PS5 or PS6 in the future. It makes the whole business stronger.
And the key ingredient here, as alluded to above, is that it takes nothing away from the status quo. NCSOFT, for example, may be transforming Horizon into an MMO – but that doesn’t stop Guerrilla from working on the series’ next big single player epic. In fact, if anything, the levels of investment involved here may practically solidify the franchise’s future moving forward.
Many feel Sony should focus on its single player games and not rock the boat, but this overlooks the very obvious opportunities the organisation has to grow. If it can find success with its mobile strategy – and that’s a big if – it stands to reach an entirely new audience, with titles that can span a variety of different platforms, which will only serve to enhance the popularity of its already acclaimed blockbuster games.
Do you think Sony’s push into mobile will be fruitful, or do you believe this is a waste of time from the Japanese firm? How do you think releasing smartphone games could benefit PlayStation, and are there any downsides you see to this strategy? Dial up your thoughts in the comments section below.
Will you play PlayStation's mobile games? (895 votes)
- Yes, I'll definitely check them out21%
- Maybe, it depends what they're like48%
- No, I will never play a mobile game31%