Last night (or should I say today) in Japan, Sony held the first PlayStation Meeting they’ve had in roughly five or six years. And while the entire world has been salivating at the hardware announced at the event, the NGP, I thought the biggest announcement was when Kaz Hirai initially took the stage and announced the PlayStation Suite. Clearly it is a sign of Sony and Google going right after Apple’s market, but will it be enough?
Earlier last year, Sony’s Sir Howard Stringer announced their initial partnership with Google and it’s Google TV services and with the new PlayStation/Android tie-in it seems that now that partnership will begin to also bare fruit in Sony’s favor. Much of Apple’s iOS success is due to the fact that its a gaming platform in “sheep’s clothing”, so while even though people buy it to use apps like facebook, iTunes, and make calls (when they aren’t dropping) what has really turned it into a game changer has been the games that are in it’s App store. At this point we’ve all probably seen over a dozen videos of Sony Ericsson’s Experia Play (PlayStation Phone), Engadget even has a preview up, but while that phone will surely be a flagship device for the service it certainly won’t be a necessary one. What Sony and Google have essentially done here is placed a PS One (arguably one of the best consoles of all time) in every Android owners pocket.
What makes the games so successful in Apple’s platform is that they’re clearly accessible when anyone’s browsing the App store. Purchases are not only quick, but with such competitive prices, they’re also impulse buys. As it stands, apps on android are downloaded through the market and anyone who has an Android device, like myself, knows that’s it probably not one of the best experiences out there and it’s riddled with a lot of crap. With that said, how will Sony play this? Will their titles be thrown in there or will they only be accessible in their own PlayStation Suite store?
It’s kind of a doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t situation when you sit back and really think about it. The thing is, if titles are just thrown into the app store they are without a doubt going to get lost in the shuffle amongst the garbage that is currently there. If Sony makes title purchases only accessible through their “Suite” app (pun intended) then they are limiting their own potential because it won’t get exposure to the average Android owner.
The biggest reason why Apple’s been so successful is because of their readily available Software Development Kit (SDK) and how readily available and user friendly it is with developers. The words “user friendly”, “developer” and “Sony” usually don’t go hand in hand but for this platform to succeed and compete with Apple’s offerings that will need to change. If you would have asked Sony a year ago about phone gaming, they would have told you it’s a joke, fast forward to now and they’re jumping in head first, but without having to actually produce hardware most of the risk doesn’t really rest on their shoulders. To take down (or better yet some market share) from a goliath like Apple it wouldn’t be easy for any company, but if any one has a chance it would be Sony and Google teaming up the way that they have.