While many games are preparing for the release of the PlayStation Vita handheld, Sony has been keen to ensure that consumers shouldn’t forget about the Xperia Play which some critics are warning may turn into another doomed NGage.
Yes, the Nokia NGage – remember that failed phone / gaming combi that launched back in 2003? Gamers failed to embrace it due to a number of reasons, mainly its odd design and lack of impressive titles and developer support.
As you may have guessed, Sony has gone on the immediate defensive to ensure that the Xperia Play doesn’t suffer the same fate as the NGage and the first factor in favor of the Xperia Play in Sony’s opinion is the fact that the gaming portion of the device is nicely disguised away from the mobile phone features.
Unlike the NGage, the Xperia Play’s gaming features are tucked away within the slide-out screen so that those who buy the device solely for its mobile phone features can enjoy just that – a mobile phone which looks and acts like any other smartphone out on the market at the moment. On the other hand, those who are buying it for its PlayStation features can enjoy mobile gaming on a device which looks visually appealing, compared to the NGage which only had one chunky design factor.
Dom Neil-Dwyer from Sony Ericsson has spoke about the Xperia Play and NGage similarities, and below is a quote from him obtained in a recent interview with Gamasutra:
“As you can see from the design of [the Xperia Play], when you hold it in portrait it’s a smartphone. It’s not a game device that you can make some phone calls on, it’s a smartphone. When you’ve got the game keys hidden and you’re just holding it like that, people wouldn’t know what it is, but obviously when you pop it open it’s a great gaming device.”
Our thoughts on this are that even though the Xperia Play is a fully capable mobile gaming device, complete with some impressive smartphone hardware and software, we have a feeling that the real challenge will come when the Sony Vita aka PSP2 is released at the end of the year, or early next year if rumors are to be believed.
Sony Ericsson are going to find it very tough to shift Xperia Play units when the Vita is out as the new device pretty much trumps the capabilities of the Xperia Play in every department as far as gamers are concerned. Don’t forget that the Vita will also come with better hardware, features such as cross-platform play with the PS3 and also social-media features and augmented reality capabilities.
Sony Ericsson are worried about gamers perceptions with relation to the Xperia Play becoming another NGage, but should they really be focusing on the Xperia Play becoming extinct when the Vita launches? Give us your thoughts on this.