Sony Ericsson woos developers ahead of Xperia Play launch

The addition of third-party developer tools aims to make it easier to optimize games

Sony Ericsson is doing its best to attract developers who can create games tailor-made for its upcoming Xperia Play smartphone, working with third-party tool makers to simplify the development process.

The Android 2.3-based Xperia Play comes with a 4-inch touchscreen and slide-out PlayStation controls, including four navigation buttons to the left and "X," square, circle and triangle buttons to the right. In the middle, the smartphone has a touch pad.

"It is probably the best gaming phone available on the market ... but the content will be key, as with any other smartphone, and in this case content is the games," said Francisco Jeronimo, research manager for European Mobile Devices at IDC.

To get games, Sony Ericsson will have to attract game developers, large and small. This week, the company is attending the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to show off the Xperia Play.

To make life easier for developers, Sony Ericsson is working with third-party tool developers. On Tuesday, Havoc announced that the company has optimized its developer tools for the smartphone. Also on Tuesday, Unity announced it has started shipping an Android version of its developer tool, which comes with integrated support for the Xperia Play.

Bogdan Iliesiu from Angry Mob Games detailed the work that went into optimizing its Guerilla Bob game for the Xperia Play, in a post on Sony Ericsson's developer blog on Monday. The work included adding support for its physical buttons and touch pad, navigation for the game menus, on-screen control tutorials and optimizing the graphics.

The porting was done using Unity, and took about one week, Iliesiu said via e-mail.

From a developer point of view, Sony Ericsson is doing a great job on the Xperia Play so far, according to Iliesiu. The hard part will be to educate users, so they don't expect all the premium games will be free or cost around US$0.99, he said.

To help secure tailored games for the Xperia Play, Sony Ericsson has also partnered with a number of larger gaming studios. Electronic Arts is developing The Sims 3 and FIFA 10 for the smartphone. GLU Mobile and Activision is adding Guitar Hero, while titles from Gameloft will include Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell.

Also, the Xperia Play is the first PlayStation Certified phone, which means users will be able to play some games from the first PlayStation.

More than 50 gaming titles will be available when the Xperia Play launches. The phone will start shipping in March, according to Sony Ericsson.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Tags application developmentSony Ericsson Mobile CommunicationssmartphonesgamesPhonesAndroidPhone-based gamesPhone applicationssoftwareDevelopment toolsgame softwareconsumer electronics

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