Apple’s iPhone has done quite a bit to change the mobile market. It has ushered in the touch-screen craze, delivered an easy way to get third-party programs onto the platform, and generally changed how all other mobile phones are judged. But one of the most significant changes the iPhone initiated was the growth of gaming on smartphones. Thanks to the Apple App Store, more and more people are downloading games like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and countless others. The iPhone is now a full-fledged gaming device that, by all measures, can be compared to the Nintendo DS and Sony’s PSP.
That success has prompted Apple competitors, like Sony Ericsson, to double down on gaming for mobile phones.
Announced at the Mobile World Congress, Sony Ericsson’s upcoming XPERIA Play runs Android and includes a 1GHz processor. But perhaps its most obvious difference compared to the rest of the competition is that it features slide-out gaming controls. Sony also says that users will be able to download games to the device.
Now, some might be excited to see what the XPERIA Play has to offer. After all, Sony has been a gaming giant for years, and the company has proven in the past that it knows what it must do in order to be a success in that space.
But I’m not excited about the XPERIA Play. I understand that Sony bringing games to the Android platform is an important step for the company, but at this point, when we consider the full feature-set the XPERIA Play offers, I just don’t see all that much value.
For one, I’m disappointed to see that the XPERIA Play will come with only about 50 games at launch. That figure will of course be higher over time, but considering there are thousands of games available on the iPhone, and hundreds of outstanding options on the Nintendo DS, I just don’t see a reason to turn to the XPERIA Play as my gaming choice.
Moreover, the device doesn’t seem to be a worthwhile smartphone choice. Sure, it’s running Android, but until Sony Ericsson can prove that it can deliver a device that can compete on the same level as some of the top Android devices on the market, I don’t see why I should opt for the XPERIA Play simply because it offers gaming functionality.
And all this fails to mention that Sony is prepping for the release of the Next Generation Portable at the end of the year. That device promises PlayStation 3-like graphics and a full gaming experience (complete with dual analog sticks — another major XPERIA Play omission) that I’m after.
The way I see it, I can satisfy my desire for casual games with my iPhone. And later this year, I can get my hands on the NGP if I want more-capable titles while I’m on-the-go.
In other words, the XPRRIA Play is a decidedly middle-of-the-road product for me. It’s not the most ideal smartphone or the most ideal casual-gaming offering. And it won’t be able to compete with so-called “hardcore” gaming devices.
So, count me out on the XPERIA Play. I’m just not seeing much of a reason to buy it.
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear