Sony wants to compete in the mobile gaming world right alongside Apple and others, as it continues to push for a third front in its video game business. In 2012, Sony launched PlayStation Mobile, a new service that attempts to cross the PS Vita, its Xperia smartphones, and other Android mobile devices made by ASUS, HTC and others. Sony extended a hand to indie developers to bring them on board, but to date, PlayStation Mobile has remained a low priority for the company.
Sony made one significant change to its mobile gaming operations on Wednesday. As noted by the Xperia Blog, the new Xperia SP smartphone will actually let users play games using the PlayStation 3’s DualShock 3 controller in addition to the device’s touch screen. That means that an indie developers that want to include traditional control mechanisms in their PlayStation Mobile devices can do so. There may even be an opportunity for Cross Play functionality for PS Mobile games between Xperia and the PlayStation 3 itself, as Sony does with some PS3 and PS Vita games.
The utility of the controller is ultimately limited, though. For starters, Sony has yet to confirm that the controller support will come to PlayStation Certified phones made by HTC and other partners. Then there’s the fact that since switching over to PlayStation Mobile in the fall, Sony no longer offers PSOne Classics on these devices. Those games would have been the ones to most benefit from the support of a classic controller as most phones could run the full games with ease.
Sony hasn’t given up on PlayStation Mobile by any means, and it still figured into its broader gaming strategy as confirmed during the PlayStation 4 unveiling in February. Right now though, it does seem to be a secondary (or even tertiary) concern for the gaming giant.
“The mobile division seems to be pretty understaffed and it takes a long time to get things done,” PS Mobile developer Chris Egeter told Indie Games in March. Other developers like Still Life creator Thomas Hopper said communication with the PS Mobile team has been spotty at best.
“My guess is they’re still having technical problems which make it hard to be sure what content is going to be released any given week,” said Hopper.
With support for traditional controls, will Sony amp up its PlayStation Mobile efforts. We’ll likely know more heading into E3 2013.