Sony Corp.’s PlayStation unit plans to release five or six smartphone games in the year ending March 2018, the company said Friday, its latest attempt to lure more casual gamers to its high-end gaming platform. Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc., the PlayStation unit, said the games would be released in Japan for Apple Inc.’s iOS operating system and Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s Android platform through its subsidiary ForwardWorks.
The move isn’t the first time the PlayStation unit has offered games for mobile devices, but previous efforts didn’t make deep inroads. In April, the unit created the ForwardWorks subsidiary as part of a renewed push to attract smartphone users. The market has grown too large to ignore for videogame companies. Many casual players today enjoy games only on smartphones because they are free to download, slowing growth of game-dedicated hardware.
Nintendo Co.’s Wii U has suffered from the trend, prompting the company to step into smartphone games and de-emphasize its most-recent console more quickly than usual. Nintendo teamed up with Apple and plans to release an iOS game featuring its most famous game franchise, Mario the plumber, in December, following the success of Pokémon Go, a smash-hit game developed by Nintendo affiliate Pokémon Co. and Google-spinout Niantic Inc.
Sony’s latest flagship PlayStation 4 is doing well globally, selling more than 40 million units since its introduction in 2013. But it is struggling in Japan where the smartphone game market is about three times as large as the console market, according to the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association.
A PlayStation spokeswoman said smartphone games from the subsidiary would first be provided in Japan, followed by other Asian countries. The U.S. and Europe aren’t part of the plan at this point, she said. Specific game titles weren’t released, but possibilities include some of the PlayStation unit’s own games such as “Hot Shots Golf,” “The Last Guardian” and “I.Q.: Intelligent Qube.”