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Sony not ceding mobile to casual games

Erica Ogg

More people than ever are spending less time playing traditional console video games, and far more time using a mobile device. Sony, long the entrenched king of console gaming, is continuing to roll out a new initiative that will help it compete against Android and iOS games.

At GigaOM’s Mobilize conference in San Francisco on Thursday, Jack Buser, Sony’s senior director of PlayStation digital platforms, talked about why Sony developed the PlayStation Mobile platform for PlayStation games that can, for the first time, be played on devices not made by the Japanese company. The short answer to that is basically that they had to: Sony had to reach gamers on the devices they are already using.

“We embraced PlayStation Mobile because we know there are situations where gamers may only have their mobile device and we want to supply a PlayStation experience no matter what,” Buser said.

That list of devices includes smartphones and tablets made by HTC, Fujitsu and Sharp, among others. The theme? They’re all Android-based devices.

The benefit to participants is free marketing. For Android game makers that want to build for the PlayStation Mobile platform — which will play games on the PlayStation Vita as well as PlayStation-certified mobile devices — Sony will use all the marketing heft it has behind its multiple gaming channels to advertise and promote those games.

Recognizing that this is a mobile platform we’re talking about, and that people are used to paying 99 cents and not $49.99 for games, Sony is rolling out a mobile subscription gaming plan too. PlayStation Plus is a subscription service for the PS3, PS Vita and PS Mobile devices. Five dollars per month delivers a new set of games to the user. They’ll be big titles, too, he promised. Not many casual games.

Sony is promoting “console games for console gamers,” Buser said, likely referencing mobile gaming leader Zynga, not “farm simulators.”