It’s a far different story for Nintendo IPs, many of which started life as simplistic – albeit some of the best ever made – 2D side scrolling platform games, making their port to iOS and Android easier to achieve. Indeed, Super Mario Run might not be the most innovative looking title, but from the footage we’ve seen, it already looks at home as a runner-style smartphone application. And even beyond design, many of Nintendo’s hallmark characters lend themselves to spinoff style mini-games, and Nintendo has a host of experience adapting these sorts of titles to different platforms, suggesting further suitability on mobile.
Sony just doesn’t have that same level of experience or the track record of success. And after the failure of PS Vita, PSTV and PlayStation Mobile, it also doesn’t have much luck innovating hardware to breach alternate markets. The signs, then, aren’t all that promising, and it’s hard not to feel as though they’d be better investing further into consolidating their foothold in the home console and VR market. But the more the data suggests smartphone and tablet gaming presents an untapped potential, the more Sony’s boardroom have dollar signs in their eyes.
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The trouble is, the smartphone market is largely unstable and unprofitable for all but a dozen or so publishers, even in Asia. Casual gamers on mobile do not show the same loyalty to brand or IP as console gamers, and the Japanese gamers that are spending mega bucks are doing so on puzzle RPGs and brain teaser titles, not console-style action experiences.
The mobile market is typically defined as one fad after another – with the exception of all but a few, whatever games are popular at the time sells, and is then they are quickly discarded. The ecosystem is an entirely different beast to the console or even handheld console market. And though Nintendo, with its universally understood brand appeal, has a chance of breaching the market with premium content, fixed price point games, it might prove a step too far for Sony.
But with the potential too tantalizing to resist, Sony are determined to try anyway. Assuming established PlayStation franchises are to be used, let us hope Sony adopts a premium content policy rather than descending into the shambolic Free to Play model that currently plagues the mobile market.