After waiting what seemed like forever since its introduction on February 2011, Sony finally launched PlayStation Mobile – formerly PlayStation Suite – just moments after the clock struck twelve on October 3. It's currently only available on a handful of Android smartphones and tablets as well as the PlayStation Vita.
Was it worth the wait? Sorry, but the jury is still out on that one.
For starters, PlayStation Mobile arrives in the form of an app like Google Play and Amazon Appstore, but like the latter, it must be sideloaded if it's not already installed on a PlayStation-certified device. The app, along with instructions on how to download it, can be accessed here. Once installed, customers can simply sign in with their PSN or SEN info. On the Vita front, it now resides as a tab next to "Game" and "Video" in the PlayStation Store.
The main storefront interface is unmistakably Sony in appearance, using its familiar PlayStation fonts, icons and colors. Right now it's broken down into two sections – Games and Apps – while sporting highlighted apps along the top. Users can discover new apps by heading to one of these two sections, scrolling through the highlighted apps, or by pressing the New Releases, Featured, and All buttons. The Games section even breaks down the apps by genre including Action, Arcade, Casual and more.
So far the North American launch lineup includes:
Aqua Kitty – Milk Mine Defender (Tikipod Limited) – $3.49
Beats Slider (Futurlab Ltd.) – $0.79
Beats Trelis (Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.) – $0.79
Everybody’s Arcade (Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.) – $0/Freemium (In App Purchases)
Flick Hockey (Spinning Head Software Ltd.) – $2.99
Frederic – Ressurection of Music (Forever Entertainment S.A.) – $3.99
Fuel Tiracas (Futurlab Ltd.) – $0.49
Hungry Giraffe (Laughing Jackal Ltd.) – $2.99
incurvio (Sync Inc.) – $7.49
Loot The Land (Playerthree Ltd.) – $3.99
Magic Arrows (Hamster Corporation) – $4.99
Numblast (Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.) – $2.99
Nyoqix (Zener Works) – $5.49
Rebel (PomPom Software Ltd.)- $1.99
Samurai Beatdown (Beatnik Games) – $0.99
Super Crate Box (Vlambeer) – $3.49
Tractor Trails (Origin8 Technologies Ltd.) – $3.29
Twist Pilot (Crash Lab) – $3.49
Underlined (Albino Pixel Ltd.) – $2.79
Wipe! (Sync Inc.) – $1.49
Word Blocked (Quirkat) – $1.99
As seen in the list above, what you won't find are PlayStation Classic games as originally promised. Heck, the Xperia PLAY shipped with Crash Bandicoot, indicating that more Classics would be on the way. Even more, PlayStation Classics like Siphon Filter and MediEvil were once listed on Google Play, but only available overseas. Sony simply doesn't plan to release PlayStation Classics on this platform, but is instead focusing on original first party titles and apps created by indie developers.
"While we’ll be constantly expanding our content offerings for the platform, we’re excited for you to check out our initial line-up of launch titles, including Loot The Land, Beats Slider, and Super Crate Box. Let us know which titles are your favorites," Sony said on Wednesday.
Here's a list of devices that support PlayStation Mobile:
Sony Tablet P
Sony Tablet S
Xperia Tablet S
Sony Mobile Communications
Xperia acro HD IS12S
Xperia acro HD SO-03D
Xperia acro IS11S
Xperia acro S LT26w
Xperia acro SO-02C
Xperia arc SO-01C
Xperia GX SO-04D
Xperia ion LT28at
Xperia ion LT28i/LT28h
Xperia NX SO-02D
Xperia PLAY R800i/R800a/R800at
Xperia PLAY R800x
Xperia PLAY SO-01D
Xperia S LT26i
Xperia SL LT26ii
Xperia SX SO-05D
Xperia T LT30a/LT30h
Xperia TX LT29i
Xperia V LT25i
All apps purchased on PlayStation Mobile are playable on Android smartphones and tablets, and the PlayStation Vita – players can even pause on one platform and resume on another, on up to three devices. The games also remain within the PlayStation Mobile app, meaning don't expect to find your new purchase to pop an icon on the home screens. All apps are instead tucked away in the Library section which is just a swipe away from the main storefront.
"For PS Vita users, as long as you have Internet access, you can use your PSN Wallet to download the full range of PlayStation Mobile content," Sony said. "Simply visit the PlayStation Mobile section within the PlayStation Store on PS Vita and take your pick from the list of available titles. If you purchased PlayStation Mobile content on another PlayStation Certified device, go to [Options] > [Download List] to select the title and download it directly to your PS Vita. With PlayStation Mobile, PS Vita owners are getting yet another way to access PlayStation content on the go!"
So far Sony's mobile offering is a bit lackluster – Android customers may just as well stick with Google Play and Amazon Appstore for higher-quality titles. Everybody's Arcade is listed as the only freebie in the initial batch, but it merely serves as a hub for premium, $2.99 casual games like Video Poker, Black Jack and a few others. Incurvio is the most expensive of the batch, a touch-based strategy game where players battle a virus within their body.
But let's be fair here: PlayStation Mobile is mostly serving up titles created by indie developers, and deserve a thorough inspection despite the platform's previous PlayStation-focused hype. Given this is merely the first wave, we look forward in seeing what Sony and 3rd party indie developers can offer the Android platform that no other native developer can provide. Maybe we'll actually see support for trophies and leaderboards too.
Unfortunately, the bottom line is that Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Madfinger and even Gameloft have proven that Android is a viable, visually rich gaming platform -- especially with the newer SoCs like Nvidia's quad-Core Tegra 3 -- and so far Sony's new mobile platform just isn't showing that it's on the same level. Time will tell, of course.