Mobile Mavens

The Mobile Gaming Mavens on PlayStation Mobile's prowess

Or lack of it?

The Mobile Gaming Mavens on PlayStation Mobile's prowess

The Mobile Mavens is our panel of experts drawn from all sectors of the mobile gaming industry.

It's quite possibly escaped your attention, but last week saw Sony finally launch PlayStation Mobile– it's app store, compatible both with PS Vita and Android handsets from both Sony itself and HTC.

A total of 20 games made it onto the store for day one, though Sony's decision to for force developers to build their games in C# has already met with some criticism.

And so, we asked the Mavens:

What's your take on Sony's approach to PlayStation Mobile to date? What do you make of the physical store - are there enough promotional opportunities on there, and just what can Sony do to make sure the venture as a whole is a success?


Sandy Duncan CEO YoYo Games

Under Sandy’s leadership, YoYo Games has built an active GameMaker community 250,000-members strong while building partnerships with Amazon, Intel, Microsoft, and Valve that have helped it achieve 200 percent YOY growth in 2012.

Sandy’s previous experience includes a 17-year stint at Microsoft.

It's so significant that I've never heard of it and don't know what it is.

What does PlayStation have to do with mobile anyway? It does consoles and dud, irrelevant bad handheld devices, but mobile?

Dave Castelnuovo Owner Bolt Creative

PlayStation Mobile is pretty insignificant.

At the end of the day, it’s only a brand. If you can get your Android phone to work with a small handful of old PlayStation games then Sony will allow you to pay money to slap their logo on your device.

It’s funny that Sony pretends that 'PlayStation Certified' actually means something - like it’s a mark of quality, when it’s really a feat that pretty much any phone released in the last five years can accomplish.

Nothing is stopping publishers of old PlayStation games from bringing their titles to these devices anyway. PlayStation Mobile is really just a cash grab by Sony that takes advantage of business types that think a partnership announcement will actually move phones.

The PlayStation Mobile brand is not nearly as powerful as the PlayStation 3 brand - or even Vita. If Sony was serious about this initiative, it would have to bring PlayStation Vita games into the PlayStation Mobile ecosystem.

The current gen devices come pretty close to being able to run those games, but that would cannibalise the Vita market - something Sony would never, and should never, do.

Christopher Kassulke CEO HandyGames

Perhaps Sony should have done it the other way around - bring android content to PS Vita. More content for its platform and more devs that could just try it out.

Now its another OS and that means more fragmentation. I believe its up to Sony to prove that this is a market to be in. The war of content has just started. Without content any platform will fail.

Dave Castelnuovo Owner Bolt Creative

If I wanted to develop a Vita game, I would create a native Vita game that takes advantage of the hardware. Not a game that has to deal with the lowest common denominator between the Vita, Xperia, and select Android phones.

Andreas Vahsen CEO / CCO / Game Economist MachineWorks Northwest

C#? No Comment.

As an esteemed colleague of mine said, bringing Mobile Content to the PlayStation ecosystem makes sense, and that would justify porting. But creating another app store that needs additional (serious) porting to a language that Microsoft (!) just dropped for mobile?

Again, no comment.

Charles Chapman Director / Owner First Touch Games

When I first heard about this I really wanted it to be something it turns out it's not.

I'm no Sony fanboy, but the games heritage is there, and a credible platform supporting buttons and touch with Sony's backing would please a lot of people.

We spent a good deal of time working with the SDK, and it's nice, in the same way that the Windows Phone 7 environment was nice, but much as I don't have a problem with C#, it's a real barrier for devs with existing games, code, skills, & staff.

Insisting on C# meaning the vast majority of devs on android - or other platforms - will need to rewrite most of their code. Even if they do happen to be developing on Android in C#, in either mono or Unity, then as the PlayStation Mobile SDK is proprietary then devs are still going to need significant work.

Microsoft has as good as admitted it was wrong to enforce C# on Windows Phone, so this is a really strange decision. It's obviously driven by the need to run on Vita - running a managed C# environment on Vita would be infinitely more straight forward than running true Android apps, but still...

Compare this with Amazon's Appstore, which is standard Android with a proprietary SDK for certain elements, and it's easy to see why Amazon's store is already popular with devs despite the lack or games heritage.

So as it stands, devs who have an established C# codebase should find a decent place to sell their wares, and it's probably not a bad starting point for new devs to get noticed. But unless Sony introduces support for native code - of some sort - then as much as I would love it to work, I see it being niche at best.

Oscar Clark Chief Strategy Officer Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

Although its 18 months since I left London Studio, I still have a soft spot for Sony.

I also welcome that it has started to take mobile seriously and hope that this will work for it, but if you just look at the reaction we have seen here, it's clear it has a lot of ground to cover to make this work.

The PlayStation label still has great kudos with players and there are great people in the team working on this product. I just hope that they are quick to evolve the platform so it helps create a cross-device experience we can all treasure.

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Games Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

I appreciate the brand power of PlayStation. As a console gamer, I have been loyal to Sony's machines from the original PlayStation onwards and think that Sony still turns out the best console games.

However, as the reaction in this exchange shows, Sony has done what so many other big, monolithic and arrogant companies have done, and that's to not consult with developers first before launching a fancy initiative.

I really don't understand how so many companies assume that developers have nothing better to do than incorporate endless new SDKs into their games, or to spend time and money porting to new and unproven platforms.

This might work if Sony is prepared to put enough marketing muscle behind it that there's a reasonable level of success for everyone and the chance of breakout hits for the few. But sadly I don't see that happening, as Sony's already firefighting its business on several fronts.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.