'We're trying to raise Android gaming. I think we're succeeding,' says Sony Ericsson's Harrison

Committed to the long haul

'We're trying to raise Android gaming. I think we're succeeding,' says Sony Ericsson's Harrison
Launched back in March, the impact of Sony Ericsson's Android-based Xperia Play gaming smartphone has been mixed.

As a consumer device - one aimed at a younger, gaming audience - initial pricing was an issue: something Sony Ericsson says it's now addressing.

But while analysts wait for an inkling about the size of its install base, game developers and publishers remain keen to support it, especially with premium content.

After all, with most Android users still resisting attempts to get them to pay anything for content, Xperia Play offers the potential of an audience that should be used to parting with its well-earned for the right titles.

Something for everyone

"We see Xperia Play appealing to a wide cross-section of gamers, and I think we're building a really strong content proposition," says Tim Harrison, who's recently taken the new role of head of content & marketing strategy at Sony Ericsson.

With 150 titles optimised for the device's dedicated controls, he points to the range available, from high profile exclusives from industry leaders such as EA Mobile's FIFA 12 and Dead Space to indie fare like Pew-Pew, Hyperlight and They Need to be Fed.

Gaining the first non-PC version of Minecraft has generated plenty of headlines too.

"Mojang came to us. There was a conversation. We found common ground very quickly. They loved the device. They wanted to bring the game to Android, and it's been fantastic working with them," Harrison says of the deal.

From A to B

As for his views on Xperia Play's launch, and install base, Harrison says it's all about the journey, not milestones.

"We don't release sales figures or per device figures, so that's not going to happen," he points out.

"Sony Ericsson is committed to this device. It's not a typical phone. It's not something you launch and leave. It's about building a story, and that takes time. We're still rolling out Xperia Play in new markets. It's just launched in Brazil and Chile and it's coming to AT&T in the US soon.

"We're marketing much more aggressively now and also getting quite aggressive over pricing in some markets such as the UK and in the US with Verizon's Back to School campaign."

The world's a playing field

And despite the obvious focus on the device itself, Harrison argues that it, and his role, demonstrate a shift within Sony Ericsson.

"Xperia Play is the flagship product but gaming is going to be an increasingly important focus for Sony Ericsson across all our devices," he explains.

"It's important to understand Xperia Play's not a gaming console. It's not a handheld portable console. It's a smartphone, and we're trying to add the usability, discoverability and sociability that bring it above the pack, and these are features that will graduate onto more Sony Ericsson smartphones."

Of course, related to this are wider changes happening within the industry, and Android itself, particularly following Google's proposed acquisition of Motorola.

"I think you'll see a lot of manufacturers going much tighter in terms of segmentation over the next six to 12 months," Harrison ponders.

"The proliferation of devices means it's inevitable that companies are going to have to differentiate. With Xperia Play, we feel we have something that's pretty unique and that can appeal to a broad audience.

"It's about trying to create a new market but it's also building on the existing ecosystem. We're trying to raise Android gaming and I think we're succeeding."
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.