Sony Launches Games for iOS and Android

Sony Reinvents Itself with New Name and Strategy

Last week Sony announced that the venerable Sony Computer Entertainment, soon to be renamed Sony Interactive Entertainment, had formed a new fully-owned company called ForwardWorks. The new unit will focus on porting Sony games to iOS and Android.

The move is an acknowledgement by Sony that its previous, go-it-alone mobile approach hasn’t really succeeded. In 2012 the company ventured into mobile gaming with its PlayStation Mobile initiative, but the project closed in 2015 after failing to make any headway. If it is to make the most of its huge catalogue of titles, it needed to take an agnostic look at the market.

Sony’s decision to focus on the broader smartphone gaming opportunity follows that of rival Nintendo, which recently launched a mobile game of its own. Nintendo’s Miitomo is available in Japan for iOS and Android, and has quickly became a popular title, notching up more than 1 million downloads in the first three days of availability. Its US release is scheduled for March 31, with a roll-out in selected European markets to follow.

Sony’s ForwardWorks will launch “full-fledged” smartphone games taking advantage of the graphics and computing capabilities of current smartphones. The unit will be formally established on 1 April and is being set up to initially focus on users in Japan and the rest of Asia.

Sony’s wider success in gaming is clear. Its flagship PlayStation 4 console has sold more than 36 million units worldwide since its launch in November 2013, outpacing the rival Nintendo Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox One. But consoles and their games are expensive items, and generally aimed at hardcore gamers.

In contrast, smartphones and tablets are available in a variety of markets, including emerging regions, and owned by people who wouldn’t consider themselves gamers. Efforts by Sony and Nintendo to shift into games on third-party platforms allows them to fill gaps in their gaming business and expand beyond consoles’ narrow focus. Asian users, especially Japanese commuters, increasingly prefer to play games on smartphones rather than on specialised gaming consoles attached to a TV. With potential buyers numbering in the billions, the audience is too big for Sony to ignore any longer.