We all know that Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Play is being billed as a revolution for Android gaming, finally moving controls away from the touchscreen to a pretty close approximation of a console controller. The advertising campaign behind the smartphone would have you believe that these new controls are key to delivering the kind of experience that would draw gamers away from the likes of the DS and PSP and really solidify smartphones as the future of mobile gaming. Looking at some of the sales figures for Play-exclusive titles, though, it seems like the smartphone may not be living up to expectations.
The Xperia Play has yet to arrive in the US (last we heard, the rumors placed its release date at May 26 on Verizon), but it’s been out in Europe since April. In the past few weeks, Play owners have had plenty of time to get used to their new handsets, so we should be seeing evidence of some serious gaming action, right?
Sony kicked off the Play by publishing a handful of exclusive titles to the Android Market: original PlayStation games all ready to take advantage of the Xperia Play’s controls. Even with limited availability, we’d expect at least some Play owners to check out these titles, if only to have some games that really show off what their new phones can do. The download statistics tell a disappointing story, with even the most popular of the five PlayStation Pocket games netting under 1,000 sales.
SE’s Dominic Neil-Dwyer has been overseeing the Play’s launch, and recently talked to PlaystationLifestyle about the sales figures. He said that despite these low numbers, the company’s not yet concerned with game sales, attributing the low incidence to Play owners not yet fully embracing the gaming abilities of their phones. He called the issue “an awareness thing”, and suggested that owners haven’t yet realized they could be searching for PlayStation Pocket titles on the Android Market.
Sony Ericsson’s confident that, as the Xperia Play launches in more markets, and the company gets the word out about games optimized for the smartphone, it will finally come into its own as the device the company envisioned. Withholding judgement for now seems fair, so we’ll be keeping an eye on how gamers react to the Android as it makes its wider launch.