By Jared Newman | Monday, February 14, 2011 at 9:13 am
The Xperia Play has been Sony Ericsson’s worst-kept secret since the PSP Go. The first rumors popped up in August, and photos and videos followed in December. Engadget got its hands on the Xperia Play before Sony Ericsson even acknowledged the phone’s existence.
But until this week’s official announcement, Sony Ericsson has managed to keep a lid on the most important aspect of all: the games that the Xperia Play will support. At launch, there will be 50 of them, but many won’t come from Sony or even fall under the Playstation brand. Instead, publishers such as Gameloft and Electronic Arts are retooling some of their existing Android games to work with the Xperia Play’s slide-out set of buttons and thumb pads. That was unexpected.
I’m willing to guess that this wasn’t the ideal scenario for Sony. What the Playstation phone really needs (aside from a better name than “Xperia Play”) is a huge library of real Playstation games powered by Playstation Suite, the smartphone gaming platform Sony announced last month. All we really know about the Playstation Suite, for now, is that it’ll support classic PSOne games, but that’s not going to cut it. With all due respect to Crash Bandicoot, Sony Ericsson can’t sell a phone solely with games that are well over a decade old.
And so we have regular old Android Market games such as Glu Mobile’s Super KO Boxing 2 and Gameloft’s Splinter Cell: Conviction getting the physical button treatment. Even if some of them are decent, they’re not experiences on par with, say, Patapon or Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for PSP.
I see Android game support as a stopgap until Sony’s own platform takes off, because it’s not sustainable in the long run. Whereas Playstation Suite is a platform that can grow with all smartphones, the Xperia Play is a single device. And given the track record of Android phones, it’ll be outdated in a year. That’s about how long it’ll take before developers and publishers lose interest in fiddling with their games to support buttons and a D-pad.
Hopefully by then, Sony will have some real Playstation games — either PSP ports or entirely new titles — to fill the void.