This article first appeared in the mobilegamer.biz newsletter, and has been edited to include references to Sony’s latest earnings call.
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What’s going on at PlayStation Mobile, then? For a good stretch of last year, it seemed like the console giant had finally decided to tackle mobile head-on with a flurry of big-name appointments and the acquisition of Savage Game Studios.
PlayStation boss Jim Ryan even told investors in May 2022 that 10% of its first party releases would be on mobile by March 2023.
Clearly, that didn’t happen, and it’s all gone rather quiet since then.
Worse, over the summer PlayStation lost several senior folks once primed to lead its long-overdue charge into mobile. And of course the exec out there making those bullish claims about live service games and mobile, Jim Ryan, is retiring at the end of this year.
First off, I get it: plans change, games are hard to make and all this stuff takes a long time to get right, particularly when you have a top-tier brand like PlayStation to maintain. There was always going to be a quiet period while these games actually got made, tested and polished to the standard you’d expect.
But while PlayStation has arguably mastered its craft in traditional console triple-A, recent layoffs at Bungie tell us that perhaps broadening the company out to crack live service and mobile might be harder, and take longer, than anticipated.
After Sony’s earnings call yesterday, our friends at VGC spotted that PlayStation Studios is now “reviewing” the 12 live service games it is working on, and has delayed half of them. A good chunk of those titles are likely mobile games: remember, part of the reason PlayStation acquired Savage Game Studios was to bring its “AAA mobile live service action game” into the fold.
And let’s not forget that long-rumoured mobile edition of Destiny, which is likely to be part of that slate of live service games too.
The apparent development partner on that project, NetEase, is an experienced partner after working with Blizzard on Diablo Immortal and several other western companies. Launching Destiny Mobile sounds great in principle: a kickstart for PlayStation’s first true move into mobile with one of the industry’s premier brands.
But of course, the reality of all this is more complex. It’s a huge job just getting sign-off on the huge budgets and development effort required to make all of that happen in the first place. And assuming that has happened, then you’ve got to execute it well: PlayStation’s mobile games need to launch with a bang, and that means a monstrous marketing push and a long-term live ops plan. It all sounds pretty expensive, doesn’t it.
Mobile remains very hard to get right, but the potential rewards for PlayStation are colossal. And it can only be a good thing for our business in general for PlayStation to really commit to mobile, and bring some stardust to this sometimes unfashionable market.
Whether that happens and PlayStation does indeed follow through on its “aggressive” mobile plans will likely be down to who ends up succeeding Jim Ryan – and if they’re bold and brave enough to take on the challenge. Let’s hope they are.