A Piece for Brokemycontroller
In what was perhaps Sony’s most impressive press event in years, the company announced their latest handheld gaming device along with a flood of information about new services and ideas that showcase their preparedness to face off against rivals Apple and Nintendo in the handheld games market. It’s a brilliant approach, and even that may be an understatement.
Just a few years ago it was hard for me to say brilliant and Sony in the same sentence. You’d have thought that they were putting their full efforts into gaining a reputation as the company that charges a premium for hardware. Their PlayStation 3 launched at a ridiculous $599, far more than most gamers were willing to pay for a console. Their PSP launched for $100 more than Nintendo’s DS (which launched at $149). Then who can forget when Kaz Hirai held the PSPgo in his hand, and said that the device would be available for $249? Not to mention the fact that Sony seemingly tries to act as if the handheld doesn’t exist.
Yes, Sony has made quite a few questionable decisions this console generation, and the truth is I was somewhat expecting to be disappointed by the big PSP2 (now known by its codename, NGP) announcement. In my mind, I knew that if anyone could make a huge, exciting announcement then drop the ball at the last minute, it was Sony. I was wrong.
First, they managed to steal the spotlight from Nintendo by holding their PlayStation Meeting 2011 event just one week after Nintendo announced the 3DS’ launch details. Websites that were filled with Nintendo 3DS information just a few days ago are now flooded with details and videos of Sony’s new portable. We can bet the both companies will be trying to convince us why their handheld is the better option. Though both systems boast some impressive features, the tech in Sony’s machine looks to be overall more powerful as far as what’s under the hood. But it’s just another handheld; believe it or not, the NGP isn’t what has me most impressed about Sony’s new handheld strategy.
During the event, Kaz Hirai recalled “a time that the only way to play a game outside was to carry a portable gaming console like the PSP.” He added that now smartphones are competing for that space, as if indirectly acknowledging that Apple’s iPhone had become a threat in the handheld market. Rather than play Apple’s device off as a different machine for a different crowd, Sony has decided that the best approach is to take them head-on. If anything, they hope to steal some of that smartphone marketshare and expand their scope to devices that reach beyond their own PlayStation hardware. Sony’s solution is PlayStation Suite, and it goes way beyond any one PlayStation phone. This one is sure to expand the PlayStation brand beyond anything we’ve seen before.
PlayStation Suite will allow for PlayStation content to be enjoyed on a variety of Android devices such as smartphones and tablets. First-generation PlayStation games will be playable on a variety of future gadgets. They will be truly cross-platform as users can enjoy these games on a wide range of devices. These games will work across Sony’s hardware as well. The thought of playing a PSOne Classic or a new original game on an Android phone and continuing on your PlayStation 3 comes to mind. Developers will have the means to create content for all of these devices through tools provided by Sony. Android devices can carry a PlayStation Certified license, which means the hardware meets Sony’s requirements for what Kaz calls a “PlayStation quality” gameplay experience.
This new strategy takes aim at Apple, whose iOS platform has made them one of the unexpected gaming giants of this generation by rewriting the rules for how we purchase and consume interactive entertainment. This will no doubt take a bite out of Apple’s mobile sales as gamers begin picking up phones with the PlayStation license. You can also bet that smartphone makers will continue to up the specs on their handsets possibly to the point of releasing devices designed for PlayStation-style controls. More original content will hit the platform as developers will have yet more means of distribution with PlayStation-style gaming now available on a wider scope of devices.
Sony understands that the handheld market is changing. They know that if they want to keep up, they have to adjust to current conditions. Everyone carries their phone around; it’s almost a necessity. Dedicated gaming machines, even portable ones, are being left at home as devices like the iPhone become more powerful and offer experiences for all types of gamers. Even on the off chance that the NGP is a total flop, Sony has millions of Android users to count on.