Sony launching PlayStation for third-party devices from fall, adds Asus devices

Sony's game division said PlayStation Mobile, offering games on Android devices, will launch with 30 titles in nine countries

Sony said Wednesday that its new mobile gaming platform, which will allow "PlayStation-like" games to be played on third-party Android devices, will launch this fall in nine countries.

The company said that its PlayStation Mobile has added Taiwanese electronics giant Asus and California-based Wikipad, which is planning a gaming tablet, as manufacturers whose devices can run the platform. Sony said in June it had added HTC.

Sony Computer Entertainment, the firm's game division, is rolling out the new platform as a way to leverage its PlayStation brand across the growing armada of smartphones and tablets. The company is trying to branch out from the traditional console model, where games only run on dedicated, Sony-built hardware, by fostering a developer environment and guaranteeing that "PlayStation Certified" devices will meet certain hardware and software requirements.

Both are crucial. Developers will be reluctant to build software without a reasonable number of devices and users on the platform, while a sizeable software library that runs smoothly on certified devices are basic requirements to entice users.

The company has been careful to draw a distinction between the new platform and its existing console business; in a press release to announce the launch Wednesday, the company said PlayStation Mobile would offer "PlayStation-like experiences" to users.

Sony is still working to expand the hardware base for PlayStation Mobile, which currently includes three smartphones from HTC plus several of its own Xperia phones.

The platform will launch with about 30 new titles in major markets including the U.S., Japan, and much of Europe and Australia. A set of older PlayStation games offered on the platform will be removed as the newer content comes online.

In an effort to draw more developers, Sony is offering software developer licenses for US$99 per year, which will allow producers to make games that run on certified devices as well as its own PlayStation Vita. The license includes the use of its logos as well as development support.

Sony said it has signed up 56 third-party developers in Japan and Europe, as well as 29 in regions including the U.S.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service

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