Sony's PlayStation Mobile still promises to loosen up the PlayStation brand with added partnerships with Asus and Wikipad, but it isn't a wide-open platform just yet.
Despite Sony's focus on mobile games via the PlayStation Vita, there's been a second parallel path in the mobile game front taken via PlayStation Suite. That initiative, now called PlayStation Mobile, was detailed with additional hardware partners and promises of indie-friendly openness at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany.
PlayStation Mobile aims to take small-scale gaming to a wider variety of devices: Sony Xperia phones and tablets, select Android devices and the PlayStation Vita. These games will download on all formats and be cross-compatible in an attempt to build an ecosystem that can extend beyond traditional handheld game systems like the Vita into phones and tablets.
I was sceptical of the PlayStation Mobile initiative back at E3 in Los Angeles, because it seemed tacked-on, diffuse and unclear. Several months later, the strategy of PlayStation Mobile doesn't seem much clearer. Sony announced Asus and Wikipad as the newest PlayStation-certified hardware partners, but no specific devices were mentioned. Sony also promises that major game developers will be working on PlayStation Mobile, but named no names and no specific games.
Shown on-screen at the Gamescom press event was an undefined assortment of titles, with most resembling the type of indie games that you can already find on iOS and Android. That's the real question: can PlayStation Mobile bridge a gap between old-school gaming franchises and new-school mobile smartphones and tablets, or will PlayStation Mobile continue to be a spin-off from the rest of the AAA handheld gaming content?
I still think that Sony needs to focus on the Vita first — which it did, during Gamescom, via a smattering of interesting new games. When it comes to Android, there are already a lot of developers making good Android games, thank you very much. What Android really needs is Sony porting its own inventive AAA content to PlayStation Mobile-certified tablets and phones, but, of course, no news in that regard has emerged. When it does, I'll be interested, and so will lots of other people.