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Friday, January 28, 2011

Sony PlayStationSuite & XperiaPlay

It's kinda funny how most of the points of my previous rant post were shot down a day after I posted them... oh well, I've never claimed to know the mind of Sony-- quite the contrary, actually... and I'd be glad to be wrong about my pessimistic outlook of the new PlayStation Suite service (previously believed to be "PocketStation"), but honestly, I think I still stand by many of my points.

The Sony Japan press conference had quotes that PlayStation Suite, the service for Android smartphones, will have both PS1 and PSP games on it. But even now, sites like Engadget are admitting that there might be mistakes in translation. Yes, we are gonna see PS1 games on there... after all aren't there already (unofficial) PS1 emulators for Android.... but as to PSP games? I'd be surprised if there were. But if it happens, it'll be first-party games for the most part.

Sony PlayStation Suite is a good idea... but the implementation is where I think it could all go sideways. As a method of competing with Apple's iTunes music store, I remember Microsoft's "PlaysForSure" idea of trying to unify DRM for a variety of mp3 player devices. They had to be "certified" like how Sony is saying smartphones need to be for PlayStation Suite; PS branding, etc... but PlaysForSure was a pretty dismal failure, a lot of the so-called "certified" devices didn't play Microsofts protected online-store bought WMA files properly, despite having the PlaysForSure branding stamped on their boxes & instruction manuals. Sony PlayStation Suite has standards of Android 2.3 & hardware requirements, so who knows how many actual phones will support it properly.

I've got a Gameboy Advance emulator on my HTC Legend and there are very few games I find really playable on it, the onscreen D-pad & buttons just aren't good enough. I can't imagine playing PS1 games on a touchscreen would be all that fun.

But maybe this is where the XperiaPlay swoops in. With its dedicated PS controller buttons, it would seem a perfect fit for the Sony PlayStation Suite store. While I like the idea of physical buttons to control games like PS1 or GBA games, I just think the non-PS buttons on the XperiaPlay look SUPER UGLY. I hate them... they're so narrow & look uncomfortable, even the shoulder buttons. And that's a volume rocker in the middle???? Ugh. Can you imagine?

I dunno, these Sony phones look so ugly..... but also, I'd much rather have a phone with a physical keyboard that either has a dedicated D-pad (on the left side of it) or programmable keys rather than a slide-out phone that *ONLY* has PS controller buttons. That's one of the things I dislike about my HTC Legend, the Android 2.1 onscreen keyboard is quite sucky.

But back to the PlayStation Suite.... it's a good idea in concept, but like most Sony Computer Entertainment products, I'm sure it will only deliver on part of what it promises. And XperiaPlay looks like it should be the linchpin device for this service (on the smartphone end, the NGP should handle the dedicated gaming handheld end) but Sony's comments have been very weird about it; they're all like, "well [the XperiaPlay] is Sony Ericsson's division-- we don't want to talk about it or have anything to do with it".... so we'll have to see if Sony Ericsson gets any support from Sony Computer Entertainment on this.

The bottom line is that, unlike a "new PSP" or such device, a new PHONE is a hugely expensive proposition. New Sony Ericsson phones run like $650.00 or something.... do we really want to pay that much just to have PS controller buttons on our phone? Not to mention most people are locked into cell phone contracts that include the phone. With prices of new smartphones running $600.00-$800.00, people are griping about the potential price of the NGP?

Engadget's got a great gallery of XperiaPlay here.


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