Sony to turn Android advocate with launch of PlayStation Suite

PSone games and original content smartphone bound

Sony to turn Android advocate with launch of PlayStation Suite
One day on from Xperia Play's unscheduled unveiling, and suddenly the motivation behind Sony's decision not to brand the device as part of the PlayStation family is somewhat clearer.

Rather than being a lone forager for PlayStation in the sleek and sophisticated world of the smartphone, Xperia Play will instead be just part of a far larger assault on Android.

In short, Sony is to launch a mobile gaming platform for Google's OS dubbed PlayStation Suite.

It's playtime

Available on an as of yet unconfirmed range of Android 2.3 devices – with Xperia Play presumably leading the line - the platform will sell both PSone games and original content to Android gamers, taking the PlayStation brand to non-Sony hardware for the first time.

"Casual gaming on multi-purpose mobile devices is a growing market that we simply cannot neglect," said SCEE CEO Andrew House of the announcement on the EU PlayStation Blog.

"With that in mind, PS Suite is a new initiative to offer PlayStation quality games on Android based portable devices, be it mobile phones, smartphones or tablet PCs.

"By offering a fantastic selection of legacy PlayStation games, alongside content made specifically for PS Suite, we believe that we will be offering the PlayStation experience to a wider base of users."

Already confirmed for PS Suite are Cool Boarders 2, Syphon Filter, Rally Cross, Wild Arms, and MediEvil.

Sony's strategy

However, the most encouraging part of the platform is the fact Sony chose to announce its existence in amongst its NGP press launch.

Though it threatened to get lost in the rush as a result, it's a sign PS Suite forms part of what Sony is billing as a water tight strategy to regain a serious foothold in the portable space, rather than an offshoot that threatens to muddy the firm's plans for its PSP successor.

"Via a program, called PlayStation Certified license program, we will work with hardware manufacturers to provide devices that optimise the gaming experience," added House.

"We want to give consumers the freedom to choose between various devices when they wish to enjoy a certain piece of PlayStation content. Therefore we also plan to open PlayStation Store to download content on the Android based portable devices.

"This is a significant move for us and one that we firmly believe will make PlayStation content more accessible than ever before."

Suite success?

How PS Suite will translate on Android from a marketing perspective is less clear, however.

By launching on a format that already lacks the same brand potency at retail that iPhone enjoys, there's the potential for PS Suite to confuse the issue even further.

No doubt, Sony will need to secure major backing from OEMs to ensure PS Suite becomes a core part of the Android movement, openly used to tout customers at the point of purchase, rather than acting as a bizarre add-on fostered on only a few handsets.

PS Suite is due to launch on Android later in 2011.

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