Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play has definitely been one of the stars of 2011’s Mobile World Congress thus far. Indeed, at Sony Ericsson’s launch event – where we also saw the Arc, Neo and Pro – they seemed to save the best for last in the Play. But while the PlayStation Phone has unquestionably garnered a shedload of attention, can it really succeed when it hits the market?
As Sony Ericsson’s Pedro told us, they haven’t scrimped on the smartphone elements of the Xperia Play. It’ll run Android Gingerbread, with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 5MP camera with flash. While the colossal disaster that was the N-Gage was entirely impractical as a phone, the Xperia Play’s controls tuck under the screen quite nicely.
In terms of software support, there’ll be around 50 games available at launch, with an as-yet-unconfirmed PSOne Classic. The PlayStation Phone has the backing of 20 developers, including Electronic Arts and Gameloft. On top of PlayStation Suite, the Xperia Play will also have access to apps on the Android Market.
Games are expected to sell for €3-7, which seems entirely reasonable. But how well do they actually run? The PlayStation Phone has a dedicated graphics processor in the Adreno 205. Games zip along at a smooth 60 frames per second. No complaints from me after a fairly lengthy session on Asphalt 6: Adrenaline.
All good so far. But there are two fairly major questions that remain to be answered.
First, we don’t know how much the Xperia Play will cost. Sony Ericsson will inevitably hype the heck out of the launch, but if the handset is substantially more expensive than, say, the HTC Desire or iPhone 4, the Xperia Play’s appeal might lie predominantly with hardcore gamers.
Speaking of hardcore, the handheld gaming landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years. Consumers are now used to quick-fix games like Angry Birds, where it’s easy to drop in and out. And Angry Birds in particular is free on the Android Market (59p from the App Store); Sony Ericsson might have a tough time convincing consumers to part with their hard-earned cash when there’s so much available for cheap.
So, to recap.
- Independently, a decent Android phone
- Strong software support
- Games run well
- Potential lack of appeal to casual mobile gamers
- The price
I’m going to go out on a limb and say – yes, the Xperia Play can succeed. Nay, it will succeed. I’m buying one.