If this is the end, it’s a shame. The phone did a better job at attracting exclusives and developer support for an external control standard than any other phone or device. This may be in large part due to Sony promoting the phone. The Xperia line is continuing, and the lack of a gaming-focused phone, at least one that continues Play controls support, seems like a curious omission. For fans of mobile gaming who can’t get over touch screen controls, the eventual demise of the Play without a successor will leave a definite gap in the market.
With OnLive now on Android, one of the biggest concerns besides lag has naturally been the lack of physical controls to control games that are controlled by keyboards and gamepads. While the OnLive Gaming Controller naturally serves as a useful tool for making this a non-issue, it does harm the portability factor. However, there is one phone that does mix portability with physical controls – the Xperia Play. Now, OnLive officially supports the Xperia Play and its physical controls for playing games on the service. While the full range of support is unknown, if all games will be playable on the Xperia Play or if just certain Android or Xperia optimized games will work.
However, this should prove to be a useful application of the Xperia Play; part of its appeal has been to bring gameplay closer to ‘traditional’ gaming systems to mobile phones, and now console and PC games are playable directly on the device. It will also work with Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, which just recently launched on the service; while latency will be an issue in particular with this game, the fact that the full version will be playable on phones is still impressive. The update with Xperia Play support is rolling out to the Android Market now.
The Xperia Play has been out for months now, but the exclusives keep coming in for Sony’s erstwhile Android gaming phone. Newly released for Xperia is the Android debut of EA’s FIFA 12. Some of the members of the development team participated in a chat to discuss the release of the game on Xperia Play. They included Tim Harrison, Head of Content and Marketing at Sony Ericsson, with Andrei Lazerescu and Alex Ruse from EA Mobile. They offered up some details on the making of the game for Android and Xperia Play, and offered some insights on their thoughts about the Xperia Play platform in general.
The developers tried to make sure the game would take advantage of the touch screen as well as the Xperia Play’s well-known hardware controls. There is no multiplayer “right now” in this first release; the iOS version lacked wireless multiplayer as well. While the game doesn’t use the same engine as the console one, they “definitely wanted to emulate the ball and player physics from the console version.”
As far as the game running on hardware such as Tegra chips, Alex Ruse claims that their engine, which is newly developed for this game and used “a lot of libraries and knowledge from the Console team” to help make, would allow the game to scale up “gracefully” to newer hardware for the next year or so. The game will be exclusive on Xperia Play until February, and will release on other Xperia phones soon though the Xperia ARC is not currently supported. However, it will be added in an upcoming release.
FIFA 12 for Xperia is available now and is available initially as a free download for the holiday season, along with several other EA titles, from the EA Store on Xperia. Alex Ruse had interesting comments about the future of the Xperia Play; he does not think that it will become outdated any time soon, as it is a powerful device, and that developers will not just build for one high-end device either. Time will tell if this portends the truth; getting more exclusives like the FIFA series may be an important factor in the continued sustainability of the platform.
The Xperia Play is getting even more games being released for it, with the latest being a flagship first-person shooter from EA, Battlefield: Bad Company 2. The game, originally released for iOS last year, and reviewed 3.5/5 stars by sister site 148Apps, features a lengthy single-player campaign of 14 missions that traverse the globe and have players taking down bad guys with a variety of weapons. The game will naturally support the Xperia Play’s built-in gaming controls for improved shooting precision. According to Dominic Neil-Dwyer, Head of Market Development, Sony Ericsson says, “As Xperiaâ„¢ PLAY becomes available in more markets across the world, the portfolio of games continues to grow and so we’re delighted to announce the availability of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 for Xperiaâ„¢ PLAY. We aim to give consumers the best possible gaming experience on a smartphone and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 for Xperia PLAY is the latest title from EA to bring one of the most popular gaming franchises to our consumers. Watch this space for updates on more content coming!”
What is unclear from reports is if the online multiplayer mode from the iOS version is in the game, though the lack of mention of it anywhere seems to indicate that it might not be. We will update when we get a definitive answer. As well, the game is not available in the US, as it’s only available in the international Xperia Play-specific store. There’s also no word on a US or general Android release of the game yet. However, with the Xperia Play coming to more carriers in the US, it could continue to be a major player with Android gaming, or at least Sony Ericsson is definitely pushing to make the platform a viable contender with the Android gaming scene. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is available for international Xperia Play devices for Â£5.
Sony Ericsson’s gaming-focused Android phone with physical gaming controls, the Xperia Play, is starting to make its way across the US, with the phone becoming available on AT&T, which was recently revealed at an AT&T event in New York City. The AT&T version of the Xperia Play should be largely the same as the Verizon version, will come preloaded with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), and will come in a new blue color as well as the original black. While the Xperia Play has had a wide variety of games announced that will either be exclusive, or have support for its controls, it has lacked reach in the US so far; with it now being on two of the US’ top four carriers, this should prove beneficial to developers releasing exclusive content on it, and should increase the likelihood that future games and phones have Xperia Play support. However, the release of the phone has not been a huge announcement for either AT&T or Sony Ericsson quite yet, though the phone is not yet officially available for sale, nor has any announcement on a release date been made yet.
With the Xperia Play out on US shores, Sony Ericsson is starting to pick up some more exclusives for their gaming-focused Android phone. They’ve announced 20 new games that will either be exclusive for the Xperia Play, or will be optimized for the phone. There are a few interesting ones that have been announced:
Minecraft: This was already known, but it seems as if Mojang is expanding Minecraft through exclusive deals rather than an all-out assault on other devices; this is factored in with the announcement by Microsoft that the 360 would be the exclusive console home of Minecraft. Is an iOS or general Android version of Minecraft in jeopardy, at least in the short-term?
Battlefield Bad Company 2: This online first person shooter was previously exclusive to iOS, making a splash at launch when it was released for $0.99. This is a bit more bold than the typical EA Android release, where the games have been largely multiplatform franchises. Apparently EA thinks this one is big enough to bring to Android as well. No word on if the online multiplayer will make it as well. This one will be at least a time-limited exclusive for the Xperia Play.
Star Legends: The Black Star Chronicles: The announcement that this is coming out is not necessarily news, since the mobile release of this MMORPG from Spacetime Studios was announced back in February. What is news is that the name of the game has apparently changed, and that it will be getting Xperia Play support, along with Spacetime’s other mobile MMORPG, Pocket Legends. The games will not be exclusive to the Xperia Play, just optimized for the phone.
Order & Chaos: Also on the MMORPG front, Gameloft are bringing their World of Warcraft clone to Android, with optimization for the Xperia Play. No word on if crossplatform play will come along with it. Also coming from Gameloft with Xperia Play optimization are fellow RPGs Eternal Legacy and Dungeon Hunter 2.
A full list of the titles coming to the Xperia Play, in both exclusive and optimized form, is available at the link below.
One of the biggest successes ever in indie PC gaming, Minecraft, is finally making its debut on mobile platforms, as it’s coming to Android later this year. However, it’s not just coming to the OS in general, as it’s coming to the Xperia Play, Sony Ericsson’s gaming-focused phone with actual hardware buttons. This follows on the heels of the announcement earlier this year that Minecraft was coming to mobile platforms, particularly iPhone, iPad, and Android.
This could be a major coup for the Xperia Play – Minecraft is a definite hit on the PC platform, having racked up over 2 million units sold despite a lack of traditional promotion or release; heck, the game still hasn’t even left beta yet! This could potentially be the kind of major release that helps push Android along as a gaming platform, especially if it gets released alongside or in advance of the iOS version. The problem is that the Xperia Play is still a relatively obscure platform. Most of the time when the Xperia Play is heard about, it’s when an exclusive game is released for it, not for any particular notoriety on the phone’s behalf. As well, it’s still limited to Verizon in the US – no other carriers have the phone at all, and unless some other carriers announce that they will carry the phone, the market for Minecraft on Android could be limited for a while, unless/until the game went to the Android Market as a whole.
This kind of highlights the problem with the Xperia Play so far – it has been just a lot of hot air. A lot of interesting game announcements, but no major impact yet. The Android gaming market has yet to really change, and it doesn’t seem like the phone is quite the hot seller yet. Sony Ericsson deserve tons of credit for pulling in some big name publishers and developers to make the Xperia Play a potential success. It will just take users to actually adopt the platform, and Minecraft’s legions of addicted users could prove to be a huge spark. Minecraft for the Xperia Play is expected to be released later this year – when is ‘later’, exactly? Well, lead developer Notch did tweet a picture of the game running on the Xperia Play recently.
Age of Zombies is a dual-stick shooter featuring Barry Steakfries as he battles his way through time, defeating the hoard of zombies that have been released throughout history by the evil Professor Brains.
I’ve continued to wrack my brain on what exactly has stood between Android and wider success with the gaming market, and I still find myself struggling to come up with good reasons that made sense. So, as I still consider why things aren’t what they seem with Android gaming, my thoughts turned to one special Android device that could mean a lot for Android gaming, a phone designed for gaming from one of gaming’s biggest names – Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play.
The Xperia Play is a wonderful idea. A cell phone that has actual gaming controls? That ought to shut up a lot of the people who whine about and deride mobile gaming’s controls STILL. Of course, Sony keeps making ads that mock mobile gaming and their supposed lack of “real games”, whatever those are. Of course, the Xperia Play, a cell phone, will be getting so-called “real games” through the PlayStation Suite, which will start off with a variety of Playstation 1 ports, like Syphon Filter and Wild Arms. Oh, and Sony’s unleashed their marketing A game on this one, launching a hilarious series of ads with the incredibly funny Kristen Schaal. The problem is that none of this really matters – the Xperia Play won’t really change much in the scheme of things for Android gaming.
The first problem is that not everyone can even get their hands on this phone. For whatever reason, Sony’s launching it on only one carrier at first – Verizon. It’s kind of a shame, as even if you’re interested in the Xperia Play, if you’re not on the Verizon network, you’ll either be SOL or looking for another phone. And it’s not like we’re talking about an iPhone either – that device seems to exist in a different universe where people will jump carriers just for it, but no one’s ever accused Apple fans of living in a rational universe, either. The Xperia Play is certainly not going to make people jump ship from their current carriers and contracts just so they can play Cool Boarders 2 with their phone. And by the time it likely hits other carriers, the technology won’t be as attractive, especially as other phones launch, and especially the iPhone 5. Remember, Apple is the only company that can get people excited for hardware released half a year ago, and I don’t know if the Xperia Play, being a phone barely associated with the PlayStation branding, will be able to draw Apple-level interest with future models.
Also, let’s get to the real problem here – this isn’t the next PSP. Sony punted on this one – if they wanted the Xperia Play to be taken seriously, they would have made this the next PSP model. It will likely wind up being like the iPad, where its 3G access will be solely for entertainment value, rather than as any kind of significant communication device, which will still make it a #2 option for entertainment. The phone has the advantage of being something that is always in someone’s pocket – handheld systems are usually something that are brought along if there is room or if there is some intent to play a game at some point. The NGP will be just like the PSP in that regard – and it’s hard to look at it next to the Xperia Play, and not be potentially disappointed at what could be.
Granted, the Xperia Play is a really neat idea, and the Playstation Suite could be really exciting if Sony works on expanding it out to devices beyond just the Xperia Play and NGP, and it could be great for Android gaming. The problem is that once again, a company is punting when it comes to trying to push mobile gaming. Apple has succeeded in part because they’ve been willing to go all in with the iPhone and iOS, especially since the App Store launched. Apple has the major advantage of being Apple, having that fanbase and their design philosphies that others don’t, but with companies like Sony unwilling to take major risks with their products to to try and topple the App Store’s gaming dominance, how will they ever actually do so? Because Android gaming is advancing at a slow crawl compared to iOS at times, and it needs a kick in the pants to speed it up. The Xperia Play could have been that kick – but I do not see it happening.
Of course, would such a phone even succeed? I may be giving Sony far too little credit here – I’m sure they’ve done plenty of market research and maybe decided that the correct direction to go in with a PSP successor was to launch with primarily wi-fi with 3G options. Of course, considering how Sony has fallen from the heights of console dominance by mismanaging the PS3, and how the PSP has become an increasingly irrelevant platform in recent years, there’s part of me that doesn’t have the kind of faith to say that I trust their judgment here in essentially making the Xperia Play act as second fiddle to their own upcoming product. So, forgive me if I’m not quite sold on the Xperia Play as the future of mobile gaming – I fear it will only be an interesting blip on the radar, and not quite the revolution it could be, if only Sony was willing to work at making it a real possibility.
Ed note: after spending way too much time on youtube, watching all of these hilarious videos, I have to say this one is my favorite:
Galaxy on Fire 2 from Hamburg-based game developer Fishlabs Entertainment is set to be launched in late March 2011, just in time for the launch of the Xperia PLAY, the new Android-based smartphone from Sony Ericsson.
As a fan of space-shooters, I admit to being personally excited about this news. The iOS crowd has been enjoying what looks like a terrific game for some time now, and I can’t wait for it to come to Android. Add to that the physical inputs on the Xperia PLAY and a great game seems poised to be even greater.