Why PS1 games and physical buttons are ready to capture a new market

Sony Ericsson UK on the Xperia Play

This week the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play launches in the UK.

Rumour becomes reality as the ‘PlayStation phone’ enters the mobile market, complete with gamepad, downloadable PS1 games and a spurt of developer support.

We asked whether the Play, phase one of Sony’s renewed effort to squeeze themselves back into the mobile gaming race, has the potential to appeal to core and casual gamers.

Now, Sony Ericsson UK’s head of PR and sponsorship Matt Beavis, tells us more about the device from their perspective, what difference physical buttons make and what to look forward to at launch.

Rumours about a ‘PlayStation phone’ were circulating for over a year. Which department within Sony proposed making such a device, Sony Ericsson or Sony Computer Entertainment, and why has it taken so long to materialise?
It was a joint collaboration from the start, and it’s been a long time in discussion to bring this to market due to the need for the right operating system, chipset, handset and digitisation of content to come together.

Will the Xperia Play encourage more complex game experiences on mobile, and are audiences after this sort of thing?
There has been substantial growth within the mobile gaming segment of the market in the last few years, and enhancements on Android are starting to make quality mobile gaming even more accessible. We believe having the dedicated gamepad with hard keys will make the Xperia Play the best handset on the market for mobile gaming as it allows for a more fully immersive gaming and a more of a complete experience.

Where does this device fit into in the mobile market compared to smartphones and dedicated gaming handhelds, like the 3DS and NGP?
First and foremost, Xperia Play is an Android smartphone that also delivers the ultimate gaming experience by bringing HD quality games to the mobile consumers. NGP is a dedicated gaming console. We see the products being complementary.

What PlayStation games (PSone classics, minis, etc) will be available at launch?
At launch we will have a selection of classic PSone titles available for download from Android market. These are: Crash Bandicoot, Syphon Filter, MediEvil, Rally Cross, Cool Boarders 2, Wild Arms, Destruction Derby and Jumping Flash!

In addition to this, we will have a range of Android games optimised for gameplay on Xperia Play. A pre-loaded application will enable users to easily discover and download titles that have been optimised for gameplay on Xperia Play, access recently played games and see information about the games they have downloaded.

There will be more than 50 titles available at launch including: Bruce Lee: Dragon Warrior, Star Battalion, Asphalt Adrenaline, The Sims 3, FIFA 11, Guitar Hero 6, Gun Bros, Super KO Boxing, Tetris, Assassin’s Creed, Galaxy on Fire 2, Guns & Glory, Real Football, Modern Combat 2, Dungeon Defender – Second Wave, Need for Speed Shift, Wreckless Racing and Raging Thunder.

Is PlayStation Store content likely to match the price of Android apps on Xperia Play?
On average, games will cost somewhere between €4.99-7.99. Developers will determine the price point for games.

What kind of exclusive content can consumers expect for the Xperia Play? Will any of it be original games designed for the device?
The beauty of Android is its open system that enables developers to launch and distribute games to the mass market. We are working hard with over 20 major games publishers to make sure consumers are given a wide choice of games and there is potential for some exclusive period on certain titles in the coming months – watch this space.

The Xperia Play offers games publishers the power to utilise the hard keys to offer a unique and original gaming experience. It will be in their hands as whether to offer this experience across other handsets.

The Xperia Play is the very first PlayStation Certified mobile. What does this new brand initiative mean for Sony Ericsson, but also other mobile manufacturers?
We don’t comment on other mobile manufacturers, but the Xperia Play is the world’s first PlayStation Certified smartphone. Combining a PlayStation quality gaming experience with the very latest Android smartphone technology, we’ve brought a really unique offering to the mobile marketplace.

SCE have suggested mapping over 12 buttons on to touchscreen devices, which seems more than a little impractical for mobiles. Does the fact that the Xperia Play has tactile buttons to play games give it greater gaming appeal?
Yes, we believe it does. It gives consumers an experience they are familiar with and the option to choose how they play games and interact with content. The physical pad also provides the responsiveness needed to immerse users into the experience. It will also make games that require a number of different button functions or combinations much easier to play. We believe that certain releases should be reviewed separately on Xperia Play to other mobile devices for this very reason.

Gaming features, such as a familiar gamepad, are generally a secondary thought when consumers consider purchasing a new mobile. Because of this could the Xperia Play be seen solely as a luxury gadget for gamers and not a cutting edge smartphone for everyday use?
The Xperia Play is first and foremost a smartphone, that has features and attributes from the Xperia portfolio and, in addition its superior gaming capabilities, will deliver a whole new experience to consumers. We believe it will appeal to a wide range of consumers, including casual gamers and people taking their first steps into mobile gaming.

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