If we are talking about PSP or PS Vita, PlayStation’s history is deeply rooted in mobile gaming. Sure, the Vita wasn’t particularly successful and the system saw an unfortunate lack of support soon after launch, but it would be a shame if Sony were to leave the handheld scene due to its recent shortcomings. And for those who have actually used the Vita, it’s hard to deny that it was great.
But there is no need to fear; Sony still believes in mobile gaming. However, the company is looking for a new way into this world through a smart way that can save the company (and consumers) tons of money in hardware. How, you may ask? With our phones, of course!
PlayStation is investing heavily in mobile gaming, with Sony recently announcing the acquisition of Savage Game Studios. The company has been hard at work on a live AAA action game, but we won’t hear about it for a little while longer. Sony released as well spine Onean iOS game controller that connects to your iPhone and lets you play mobile games comfortably.
You may be asking yourself, “What’s the big deal?” Mobile gaming is everywhere, and Sony entering the scene just means more predatory microtransactions and low-effort garbage, right? Well, think of it this way: If we can expect quality PlayStation games on mobile, Sony could change that industry forever. After all, the BackBone One doesn’t exist to play Clash of Clans or Candy Crush.
PlayStation’s future in handheld gaming
Smart phones are surprisingly powerful. We’ve witnessed a gradual evolution in handheld games and what they’re capable of over the past decade. And every year, more advanced titles are available: The influence of Genshin and Diablo: Immortal are great examples, as they are visually advanced and graphically demanding.
These are not just random titles. They are elaborate RPGs with deep mechanics and a lot to do. Genshin Impact in particular is impressive, as it is also available in PC, PS5 AND Xbox Series X|S. It’s clear that putting a big budget behind mobile games can deliver pretty compelling results, and it would benefit Sony not to underestimate the potential of the mobile gamer base.
To be perfectly clear, we’re not 100% sure that PlayStation’s foray into mobile gaming will be all that good. It’s entirely possible that Sony’s plans are no different than most other mobile developers, offering predatory free-to-play systems alongside a low-quality game that does nothing but exist to extort money. from wallets.
But if we’re a little more optimistic, Sony can deliver the same level of quality expected from the PSP and PS Vita, with the exception of our smartphones. There are many advantages to this, most notably that new PlayStation hardware would no longer be needed and could save both consumers and the company tons of money. The Backbone One controller will surely be recommended to pair with your smartphone. But it’s only $99.99, a price point as high as paying for a full console.
We already know that Savage Game Studios’ first project is the live service, which likely means it will be free. However, I hope Sony takes more risks with its mobile initiative and isn’t afraid to throw money at its upcoming mobile titles.
Sony mobile games don’t have to be free
There are two plausible futures when Sony says “PlayStation is coming to mobile”. The former is not much different from games like Genshin Impact or Diablo: Immortal. We’d get quality free-to-play titles overloaded with microtransactions and potentially steep progression systems. It would be nice, but it’s what I’d expect from the mobile world, and frankly, it’s not exciting.
The next timeline has PlayStation continuing the legacy of the PSP and PS Vita on mobile phones. That means waiting for AAA and indie titles in the palms of our hands. We should see games with high production values and moderate entry prices, ideally without in-app purchases. After all, the biggest PS Vita games launched at $49.99 and as a result, a certain level of quality was expected and often delivered.
Why should mobile gaming be any different? Yes, it will be challenging to convince a market used to playing free games that they should spend anywhere between $10-$50 to get their hands on a new PlayStation game. But with great ads and trailers showcasing high-quality work, it could change the landscape forever and turn the mobile game into more than just the home of mindless, cheesy addiction.
PlayStation may be returning to weirder games via mobile
There’s no doubt that the resources required to develop a PS5 franchise are far greater than those required to launch a game on mobile devices. Basically, this means that the style of gameplay that can be released on the PS5 will be quite limited. They should be graphically modern, appeal to common tastes, and feature specific systems that the company knows will work.
Have you ever wondered why PlayStation franchises are often third-person action-adventure games with a heavy focus on cut-scenes and often (especially lately) featuring light RPG mechanics? Regardless of whether we are talking The last of us, Unexplored, God of war, Forbidden Horizon West, Days gone by, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clankor Ghost of Tsushimaeach of these games checks quite a few similar boxes.
It’s rare that Sony greenlights a game that doesn’t stick to a formula that the corporation knows will work. I love PlayStation games, but at the end of the day, it’s business and you can’t often take risks, especially with the cost and time involved in making games.
Mobile has a unique opportunity to change that. For example, Gravity Rush would never be viable as a PS5 exclusive. This became abundantly clear when Gravity Rush 2 launched on the PS4, it didn’t sell particularly well and resulted in Japan Studio (the game’s developer) going out of business four years later.
But mobile is a whole other world, or at least it could be. You’re not expected to make games that cinematic, and it stands to reason that they won’t be as graphically demanding. You also have the option to invest in whatever genre you want and adjust the price accordingly. Something like Gravity Rush would thrive on a mobile device, especially if it launched at $50 and was a full game with no microtransactions.
Developers can create lower-budget titles and take less time to work on them, so even if they aren’t as successful as God of War, they can still become profitable. This also creates the opportunity for more whimsical games. Of course, Sony won’t greenlight a $50 million project that takes five years of development time if it looks weird and risky. But cut that development time by three years. and drastically reduce the amount of money, and it’s more likely that Sony is willing to take a chance.
Imagine the future of mobile as one where the glory of PlayStation handheld gaming is back front and center. I’m talking full-price titles without predatory microtransactions that aren’t afraid to be weird. We could see the return of things like Twisted Metal and Gravity Rush, or we could be delighted by new properties as cool as Tearaway on the PS Vita.
In one blog post, Hermen Hulst claims that PlayStation Studios’ Mobile Division wants to focus on “innovative, on-the-go experiences,” but if the company ends up occupying the same space as every other mobile developer, then what’s there to be excited about? We hope that Hulst really delivers on this promise.