Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: what went wrong?

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play: what went wrong?The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play is currently residing in bargain bins (most notably that of Expansys) at almost half its original price, just four-and-a-bit months after release. Who’d have thought?

Prior to release, Sony Ericsson reckoned it had the potential to give the iPhone 4 a run for its money, and the idea didn’t seem overly ridiculous. So what went wrong?

While it was in production, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was often referred to as the PlayStation Phone, and threatened to sex up the handheld gaming/smartphone divide. Why carry a smartphone and a PSP?

Following eons of speculation, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play finally made its public debut in a Superbowl ad on February 6. It doesn’t get much more high profile than that.

Fast forward one week, and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was one of the most talked about smartphones at Mobile World Congress. Indeed, we noted: “Along with the LG Optimus 3D, the Xperia Play was the device everyone wanted to play with most at this year's show. And on first impressions it's hit the mark perfectly, just about managing to live up to the ridiculous hype.”

I spent a lot of time at Sony Ericsson’s stand (erm, working of course), playing the likes of Asphalt 6: Adrenaline Rush. I was far more impressed with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play than I was with, say, the LG Optimus 3D, which gave me a bit of a headache.

Back then I figured I might be seduced by the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play when it hit the shelves, being a seasoned gamer ‘n’ all. But even at the frankly ridiculous price of £260, I’m barely tempted. Gimme a shout when it’s £150.

What the hell happened?

While smartphone gaming is on the rise (much to the chagrin of Nintendo), people want quick-fix games. Many of the most popular titles – Angry Birds being the obvious example – are broken down into easily digestible levels, ideal for a quick blast on the bus or train.

If on-the-move gamers are after something a bit meatier, I reckon they’d rather invest in a full-blown handheld like the PSP or Nintendo DSi. Technically, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play ain’t all that impressive, sitting somewhere around the PS1 mark.

Incidentally, when the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was first released, you could grab an HTC Desire and a PSP for the same price. Just saying.

Looking at the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play’s specs, it’s really quite modest by today’s standards. It has a 1GHz single-core processor and 5MP camera. True, it ships with Gingerbread, but that’s not exactly a deal maker.

By the time the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play was unveiled, we’d already played with dual-core goodies, such as the Motorola Atrix, Samsung Galaxy S II and LG Optimus 2X. By comparison, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play doesn’t seem quite so cutting edge.

There’s plenty of software support for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, and a few cheeky exclusives, but people are too used to getting games for less than £1, or even free.

I can’t help but feel that I’d resent the slide-out controls too. They add a fair bit of chunk to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, and are ultimately redundant when using the phone as a, uhm, phone. It’s not like, say, a sliding QWERTY that’d get whipped out on a fairly regular basis. Having said that, I guess it depends how much gaming you intend to do.

In summary:

  • People want cheap, quick-fix games
  • The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play doesn’t impress as a gaming machine
  • The Sony Ericsson Xperia Play doesn’t impress as a smartphone

Maybe it’ll be a different story when we see the quad-core Sony Ericsson Xperia Play 2 playing PS2 games without breaking a sweat. Maybe.

Read more about: Sony Ericsson Xperia PlayAndroid

Add a comment

CTPAHHIK  Aug. 22, 2011 at 13:42

Biggest problem with Xperia Play is price. You do not see HTC selling Desire Z twice the price of Desire, do you? Why would you sell similar phone for twice the price of competition? Because it has slide-out controls? That’s not going to work. If that is your marketing strategy sell keypad as separate add-on like Atrix does. Everyone got Atrix because it was a good phone at its time, not because it has a keyboard. Customers that needed a keyboard bought one later.
Old hardware is second mistake. In order for games to sell they must have presentation. Asphalt 6 has good presentation and stunning graphics – it’s definitely much better to play with keypad than using accelerometer. However, with Adreno 205 Asphalt will be pinnacle of your achievement – it was new back in 2009. Who has biggest foot in gaming, if not nVidia? Why partner with Qualcomm who has no clue about gaming?
Battery life is well below average. Games are most demanding on hardware and consume battery quickest. Sufficient battery to be able to play for a few hours without impeding on phone functionality is a must.
Good point about keyboard being a better option. Gaming still best with keyboard and mouse and neither one was designed for gaming. Get your R&D to come up with keyboard and keypad solution in one.
Agree with above that Xperia is bad example of gaming gadget and even worse as a phone. Do not agree with quick fix games.

JanSt / MOD  Aug. 22, 2011 at 17:19

I'd add the overall design, too. The Nokia E7 shows how you can built a rocksolid attractive slider... Same screen size, a slider with zero, ahem, play... compared, the Play is an ugly, chunky phone that really feels like an early prototype. Yes, yes, the Nokia E6 isn't great software-wise, I'm talking hardware ;)

blizzard7  Aug. 22, 2011 at 20:19

So much potential, not enough common sense. With dire 3DS sales (who wants to spend £30 on a cut-down version of a console game?), now is the perfect time for SE to come out with a good gaming phone. Of course they won't do it for fear a cannibalising PS Vita sales.

Merivex  Nov. 11, 2012 at 08:08

Xperia Play cant play ps2 games .. sony are lying to us .. they just know how to lie us to get money .. didnt belive ? sony promise that xperia play will run ps2 ? but did u see any ps2 games that are port on xperia play ?? in this earth ,, all about is the money ..


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