Is Sony’s PlayStation Phone Ready To Compete With the 3DS, iPhone and NGP?

With a left handed Xperia game phone, a right-handed Next-Generation Portable gaming system and the eyes reporting threats of the Nintendo's new 3DS and growing iPhone gaming library, is Sony positioning themselves to win the next generation of portable gaming wars?

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Sony can sometimes seem like a confused beast: it’s as if their right hand isn’t talking with the left, and none of them are communicating with the brain or eyes. With a left handed Xperia game phone, a right-handed Next-Generation Portable gaming system and the eyes reporting threats of the Nintendo’s new 3DS and growing iPhone gaming library, is Sony positioning themselves to win the next generation of portable gaming wars?

The story of the new Sony phone started in October of 2010. In the face of mounting pressure on their portable game system by iPhone and Android, rumors began to surface of a Playstation Phone, that could provide high quality game experiences while also acting as an app-store powered phone. These rumors continued to gain persistence until just a few days ago, when during the last SuperBowl, this commercial surprised audiences.

The quizically unappealing commercial shows the new “Xperia Play” by Sony Ericsson, a gaming phone suprisingly devoid of the Playstation brand. Sony leaked more details about the phone just after the Super Bowl, and we now know that the phone will be powered by the Android operating system (read: App Store) and will include what amounts to a slide-out Playstation 1 controller, as well as a touch-screen. It is “Playstation Certified” which means it will be able to play Playstation 1 games.

The biggest surprise in the ‘PlayStation Phone’ is probably what’s not included. Jumping into the phone space means that Sony is going to need to take on the rapidly growing number of competitors, and ideally leapfrog them in terms of CPU power and graphics capabilities. By including a system that is only ready to play Playstation 1 games, there’s going to be pretty much nothing visually doable or exciting that cant’ be done on an iPhone. Take a look at this Project Sword demo. This is graphicly superior to all but the best looking games on the Playstation.

But that said, graphics aren’t everything, and what the Xperia will offer is a library of some of the most fun games ever released. Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, Street Fighter and others will all be playable, and playable with the original controls. This is the bet that Sony is really making: Are there enough people out there that want to play PS1 games on their phone to make our Xperia sell? It’s a difficult call, because a lot of the people that want to play those PS1 games already have. I was an avid PS1 player and am not sure why I would buy this phone to play a bunch of those old games. The app store on this system will undoubtedly be equivalent or worse to the one I already have on my iPhone, and to top it off a lot of new games (Street Fighter IV) have been ported to the iPhone too, so I’m not even missing out on everything. Publishers will undoubtedly try to port some great games to the iPhone, so I’m still skeptical.

As a gamer, the funniest part of all is that I ask myself: Why would I buy an XPeria Phone when I could buy Sony’s recently announced NGP. The NGP is their new fully dedicated portable Playstation device. It doesn’t seem to have a phone, but it is as powerful as a Playstation 3, and has innovative touch screens on the front and back of the device. When it comes down to it, I think a lot of gamers are going to be asking where they want to put that $300… In a phone that plays games they’ve already played, or into a brand new portable gaming device that promises tons of new features. And if they make the latter choice, Sony had better hope they aren’t referring to Nintendo’s 3DS.

image courtesy of http://zomgitscj.com/2011/01/10/the-sony-ericsson-playstationxperia-play-phone-gets-caught-in-the-wild-again/