By Jared Newman | Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 9:41 am
The folks at Sony Ericsson had a novel idea, according to Engadget’s tipsters: Build a smartphone running Android 3.0, add a sliding set of game controls instead of a physical keyboard, open a section of the Android Market specifically for this phone’s games, and put the weight of Sony’s Playstation brand behind it. And just like that, the PSP Phone has its most credible rumor yet.
Engadget’s Josh Topolsky says Sony Ericsson’s gaming phone could arrive as early as October, which means we’ve got a few months to speculate wildly on the missing details (the image here is just a mockup). Here’s what I would like to see in the fabled Playstation phone:
Bring the Full Playstation Network Along
Sony is reportedly showing off games from the original Playstation and the PSP, such as LittleBigPlanet and God of War. That’s a good sign, but the best case scenario would be the entire Playstation Network catalog, including all downloadable games and PSP Minis, not just a limited selection. Fragmentation is only going to make all the platforms weaker.
Sony’s done a good job making its PSP Minis and original Playstation games compatible for both the PSP and Playstation 3, so I hope a Sony Ericsson phone would expand the idea. We know Microsoft wants some Windows Phone 7 games to work on the Xbox 360, and vice versa. Sony Ericsson would be wise not to give up such an obvious competitive advantage.
Dell had the right idea with the Streak, giving buyers the option to forgo voice and data plans. Like the Streak, not everyone would want to use the PSP Phone as a phone. I say it’s equally desirable as a portable tablet that can browse the web, make Skype calls and, of course, play a lot of video games. An option to buy the device unlocked would be nice. With a data plan only? Divine.
One nice thing about Android: It supports Flash (Android 2.2 and beyond, at least). The downside: There’s no easy way to play Flash games that require keyboard input. A Playstation phone could get around that problem by letting players map the controller to keyboard commands (see the excellent Joy2Key for PC). Even if that feature didn’t come standard, I’m sure some enterprising developer could figure out a solution.
Don’t Fear the Emulator
The harsh reality for Sony is that some people will want to play classic game emulators on their video game phones. But these are the same people who will buy a lot of video games and evangelize the hardware. Instead of trying to lock down the phone and dictate what users are allowed to do, Sony should concentrate on making its game store as attractive as possible.