You have probably all seen or heard of Sony’s Next Generation Portable PSP2 announcement yesterday. I won’t go into details about the device itself but will just point out that this thing is really a monster in terms of raw hardware specifications and power. Sony has in my opinion done an outstanding job this time around but one of the most interesting part of the event was the announcement of the PlayStation Suite framework for Android 2.3 devices and the PSP2 NGP that directly targets Microsoft’s XNA framework and Xbox Live service. So what is really the PlayStation Suite? It is many things:
SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT TO UNVEIL “PLAYSTATION®SUITE,” DELIVERING THE WORLD OF PLAYSTATION® TO ANDROID™ BASED PORTABLE DEVICES
Simultaneously Launching “PlayStation®Certified” License Program to Provide PlayStation® Content and Development Support for Android™ Based Portable Devices
Tokyo, January 27, 2011– Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE) today unveiled “PlayStation®Suite” (PS Suite), delivering the PlayStation® experience to Android™ based portable devices*1. Through this entirely new initiative, users will be able to enjoy PlayStation content on an open operating system for the first time in PlayStation history. In the dramatically evolving and diversifying mobile market, the number of users who enjoy games casually on a variety of devices including mobile phones, smart-phones and tablet PCs, has been increasing significantly. By offering “PlayStation quality” content to this rapidly growing market, SCE will not only deliver the PlayStation experience to a wider base of users around the globe, but will also be able to offer game developers and publishers the potential to further expand their business opportunities to these devices.
In providing the PlayStation experience on Android based portable devices, SCE will commence a “PlayStation®Certified” license program for hardware manufacturers. Through this program, SCE will offer necessary support, including development support as well as logo licensing, to ensure the delivery of PlayStation quality experience across various devices.
On the software front, SCE plans to provide PS Suite content within this calendar year, starting with original PlayStation games*2 (PS one® classics) that will allow users to enjoy “PlayStation quality” gameplay on their Android based portable devices. SCE also plans to open PlayStation®Store where users will be able to download content in an easy to use environment, directly via the Android based portable devices. Moreover, SCE will provide a new game development environment in an effort to ensure new and compelling content is delivered on PS Suite, which will also offer opportunities for a wider base of developers and publishers to further expand their business on various portable devices.
Newly developed content for PS Suite can also be enjoyed on the next generation portable entertainment system (codename: NGP), which SCE announced today. Users who have never experienced PlayStation content can get a taste of the PlayStation experience through PS Suite and from there, they can enjoy the ultimate portable entertainment experience that is only possible on NGP.
SCE will vigorously enhance the entertainment world delivering the PlayStation experience to a wider base of users.
*1 Android™ 2.3 or beyond is required.
*2 PS one game console software title. We will announce the tiles when ready.
In addition to Sony releasing PSOne ports to Android 2.3 handsets, developers will have the ability to simultaneously develop PlayStation certified games for Android and the PSP2 NGP which is also apparently going to be able to run Android in some form. The gigantic gap in performance between the NGP and the current/future smartphones means that the PlayStation Suite games will probably be developed principally for the smartphones at first. The first one is obliviously going to be the soon to be announced Sony Ericsson Xperia Play but as seen during the presentation ; hardware buttons are not a requirement to be PS Suite compatible (but an Adreno 205 or PowerVRSGX540 GPUs is the minimum requirement for the PS suite AFAIK) which means that we can expects lots of Android devices to be PlayStation certified in the coming months. In addition to the development framework and certification Sony is also going to launch a dedicated PlayStation Marketplace within the Android Market (similar to nVidia’s marketplace for its Tegra 2 powered smartphones and tablets) so you can expect even more market fragmentation in the near future.
Should Microsoft be worried about this announcements? Well, it really depends on how the company plans on evolving the Windows Phone 7 platform in terms of hardware compatibility (new chassis with higher-end SoC support to be on par with the min-requirements of PS Suite) and also better Xbox Live/ Xbox 360 integration (multi-player support etc). Microsoft has the advantage of controlling the whole ecosystem unlike Sony and Sony Ericsson (who are two different companies, don’t forget it) who will have to make OEMs sign deals and probably pay licensing fess to have their handsets PlayStation certified. This is only the beginning and things might get even more interesting later this year when Apple announces its updates iOS platform and handsets and when Microsoft finally decides to shed some light on it’s mobile roadmap.