Daily Reaction: PlayStation Mobile’s First Steps

With PlayStation Mobile having come out earlier this week on the Vita and select mobiles, the Daily Reaction team of Sebastian Moss and Dan …. share their early impressions of the new platform.

Seb: Before release, we talked about why we were excited for PS Mobile, and why it could mean big things. So now it’s out, am I still excited? Yes. Reason one – Super Crate Box on Vita. Reason two – it finally gives indie developers a chance to develop on a PlayStation platform without having to remortgage for a developer kit. And reason three – it marks Sony’s first baby steps into expanding beyond the traditional console market.

Last month I didn’t have enough games on my Vita and it was gathering dust, now I’m trying to juggle time between different PSM games and LBPV. They’ve made the handheld exciting again, and given it a strong future lineup as developers can be confident that even if the Vita doesn’t sell well, the growing number of Android mobiles supporting PSM will make chances of a return all the more likely.

Unfortunately, the installation process on Android phones is a bit of a pain in the ass, and unfortunate necessity due to the restrictions on Google Play. But Amazon had the same process with their market, and still managed to get onto a ton of devices. So now it’s all up to Sony’s marketing team… which isn’t exactly a comforting thought, as well as the quality and word of mouth potential of the games.

They are off to a good start, with a decent breadth of games, but they have a long way to go if they want to carve a market for themselves in the big bad world of smartphones.

Dan ain’t a man: Well I still think it’s too early to decide if PS Mobile will be a success or not, as the program has finally just started to reach the consumer market. Yet, I think it could be the ultimate key to bring Sony out of the console market, and give them an edge on Nintendo. While the slightly inelegant way that is needed to install the software on an Android device might be difficult for some, it isn’t something that is a problem that only Sony will have to deal with. As all non-Google companies will have the same challenge of competing against the platform holders own market space. While this could be an issue, all Sony really will have to do is create a set of unique titles that are also playable across multiple platforms. Which is something that Sony is actually fairly decent at doing, as they have been bringing out some of the best experiences of this generation I have had on the PS3. If they are able to do this, then not only will Sony be able to enter a market that Nintendo isn’t on, but they will also be able to connect with a whole population of gamers who might not know the PlayStation brand.

One of the biggest advantages outside of the spreading of the PlayStation brand is Sony will finally be able to create a marketplace for it’s own set of smart phones. As we have noted before, Sony has not been doing exceptionally well financially, and if they can generate a mobile gaming platform that pushes their hardware, things should improve. As the ability to enter into the development side of PS Mobile is the lowest entry point ever on a Sony product, we should see swarms of people working to produce some interesting IPs.

Seblab: Yeah, a lot of the success of the platform relies on Sony’s mobile arm shifting a lot of units, as their phones will have PSM pre-installed. They’ve made quite a lot of improvements since they bought out Ericsson, but they are by no means the best phone company, and their brand isn’t that strong in the US. Plus, the fact that they’ve had to recall their latest tablet today over shoddy manufacturing doesn’t help things.

But they are moving in the right direction, their phones have gradually been improving in scores, and there’s a big rumor that this year we’ll see multiple Nexus products (the name for the flagship Android phone), including one from Sony (remember PS Nexus?).

While they’re sorting that out, there’s still a few things that I’d like to see improve on the actual platform. On Vita, the PS Mobile section is way too hidden, most people won’t even notice it. That needs to be addressed quickly, there needs to be a concerted effort to inform Vita gamers that this whole new games platform exists. Plus, once you go on it, there’s no explanation of what PlayStation Mobile actually is, nowhere does it say “these games may work on your mobile”.

Another issue is price. The games need to be the same price as on Google Play or iOS, which luckily they mostly are, but Super Crate Box was too expensive.

And then, of course, there’s the games. Sony needs to be as hands on as possible and get as many big names as they can. They were actually pretty decent at getting big names on the Xperia Play – they had Minecraft as a timed exclusive – and that was a far less successful product. I’m looking forward to seeing what games they have, including a new Eufloria and something from From Software.

Done: As Sony keeps trying to fill our pockets with electronics, they do need to leave some cash in there as well. The pricing structure that Sony has always had has never been forward thinking, beyond cramming every bell and whistle in the PS3 and taking a hit on each sale. With that the idea that they are trying to use a mobile market to push a handheld system, is almost obvious, as I remember complaining that the PSP couldn’t do half the things my phone did, even at the time. Sony really needs to focus on having adaptability as their main focus for the handheld market, and that means apps. When you do not want to have 5 different electronic devices on you at all times, you mainly try to find something that suits all of your needs. That is exactly what brought the iPhone to the success it is now, it can become almost anything you want it to with just a few simple installs.

While Sony does have an app on it’s marketplace, it is far from the breadth of tools most people need. Whether it be schedulers, calculators, messaging services, or even a place to buy movie tickets, the tech world is moving to a place where the world is at your fingertips. So until Sony can get even the most fundamental apps on its store, they are going to be selling to a market that is already years ahead of them.

Have you tried out PlayStation Mobile? What did you think? Troll Sony in the comments below, and fall in love with Seb and Dan on Twitter.

While you’re at it, be sure to email [email protected] with your thoughts, dreams and hopes for a better tomorrow, and to get your words read out on our podcast.