HTC will be the first smartphone manufacturer with Sony’s PlayStation Certification, a move that may hurt sales of Sony’s Vita gaming device.
The agreement, which HTC will announce later this year, gives the company’s devices access to the PlayStation Suite, a cross-platform gaming network. Users will be able to purchase classic PlayStation games on the PlayStation Store, playable on their smartphone and bringing console quality games to their device.
Until now, the PlayStation Suite was exclusive to Sony’s smartphones, but the company announced last year it planned to license its software to other manufacturers.
Sony’s smartphone business is struggling, and expanding the PlayStation Suite to some of the world’s largest Android manufacturers is a good way to put its software into the hands of more customers.
The service will likely make HTC smartphones more attractive to gamers, giving them a niche audience many manufacturers aren’t serving. Sony’s classic PlayStation One games like “Crash Bandicoot” and “Spyro the Dragon” are classic titles that many players will want to revisit, and others will enjoy even if they’re playing them for the first time.
Sony’s decision to license its PlayStation Suite to smartphone manufacturers will likely bring the company a profit, particularly at a time when the company is struggling with lagging revenues, but it may come at the expense of its other gaming initiatives.
Sony plans to launch the PlayStation Vita in the U.S. next week, and the company is marketing the system as a portable device that gives gamers a true console gaming experience. The system has graphical capabilities beyond any portable device currently on the market, but at its $250 price point may scare off prospective buyers.
The Vita’s primary competition is smartphones. Casual gamers, one of the fastest-growing segments in the market, are highly unlikely to spend big money on a dedicated portable gaming system when they can play games on a device they already own, and even some hardcore gamers are getting their fix on their iPhone and Android devices. The PlayStation Suite pays particular attention to this audience, allowing users to play classic console games of the past on a device that’s already in their pocket.
Sony may have made the PlayStation Suite exclusive to the Vita, giving customers more incentive to buy its new handheld, much like Nintendo has done with its Virtual Console on the Nintendo 3DS. Instead, Sony is licensing the Suite to smartphone makers, and although it may allow the company to reach millions of potential customers, it also gives all but the die-hard gamer another reason to pass on the Vita.