Sony today confirmed that it is working on creating more than five smartphone games for iOS and Android, all expected to launch before March 2018 (via CNBC). The games will be created through Sony's ForwardWorks subsidiary, which it formed earlier in March of this year as a way to craft "full-fledged game titles" for smartphones.
At the time of that announcement, the company hadn't detailed the launch plan, or specified how many games it wanted to create, so today marks the first time it talks about its smartphone gaming plans since then. Known in March and reiterated today, the Sony iOS and Android games will first hit Japan and other Asian countries, with the expectation being that each game will then slowly rollout wider after the initial release.
Despite consistently strong sales figures for its PlayStation 4 system, the company's aim at Japan is an attempt to battle low console sales in a country where users are more likely to spend their time picking up mobile and smartphone games rather than sit in front of a home console system.
"Japan is a market where Sony and other console makers are struggling to sell units. Sony had to react. People are consuming smartphone games like there is no tomorrow," Serkan Toto, CEO of Japanese gaming consultant and advisory group Kantan Games, told CNBC by phone.
Sony has still yet to confirm which games and franchises might receive the smartphone treatment, but any of its first party franchises published under Sony Interactive Entertainment -- Uncharted, Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank, God of War -- could be fair game. Although the company said that the experiences would be "full-fledged" games, it's likely Sony will take Nintendo's approach and optimize each for smartphones, like the latter company is doing in partnership with Apple for the endless runner Super Mario Run.
Analyst Serkan Toto mentioned that since Sony's intellectual properties aren't as recognizable as Nintendo's, the company's chance for failure might be higher.
"Sony doesn't have the same power as the Nintendo IP. There is nothing that comes even close to Mario," Toto said.
"If the first couple of games from that company just don't work, I think the smartphone game business will see the same fate as the portable game business. Nobody talks about the Vita anymore," the analyst added, referring to Sony's PS Vita handheld console.
In the same vein of Sony's announcement, back in May of 2015 Nintendo revealed that the company was working on 5 smartphone games, in partnership with DeNA, with an end-goal to launch all of them by March 2017. The first was the quickly abandoned Miitomo, followed this December by Super Mario Run.
Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem were originally planned to launch this fall, but Nintendo pushed their debut back to 2017 so as not to overcrowd the end of the year and keep the spotlight on Mario. That still leaves one unannounced Nintendo mobile title to launch before the end of Nintendo's fiscal year -- March 31, 2017 -- if the company is to keep to its original promise of five smartphone games by March 2017.