Back in February of this year, when Sony Ericsson took the veil off their terribly leaked “PlayStation Phone”, which we now know to be the “Xperia Play”, we questioned what the long term viability of such a niche smartphone would be. There’s no doubt in our minds that several of our readers are hardcore gamers, but they make up a tiny percentage of the overall smartphone population. Case in point, Verizon Wireless introduced the Xperia Play in mid May for $200 on a 2 year contract. This week, just 2 short months later, they’ve slashed the price by 50% to just $99. The only other device we can think of that received a similar treatment was the Microsoft Kin. Now what can we deduce from this “sale”? Verizon has plenty of inventory they want to get out of their warehouses, which is a fancy way of saying that the Xperia Play isn’t selling.
Looking back just a few short years ago, we see a similar tale with Nokia and their “N-Gage” platform. It started out as a dedicated gaming device, which required proprietary cartridges, but then it evolved into an application that most any high end Symbian 3rd Edition device could run. Later Nokia would decide that they didn’t want to have a separate experience for gaming and applications, the latter provided by the then recently launched Ovi Store, so they took the axe to N-Gage and thus killed what would have otherwise been a potentially interesting unique selling point.
Now there’s one other company who is trying this whole “dedicated mobile gaming” thing, and that’s Microsoft. Every Windows Phone on the market has a dedicated XBOX Live tile, and that’s purposefully done as to let consumers know where the games are, versus the Windows Phone Marketplace. It’s bound to confuse more than a few people, but hey, at least it’s something different compared to the all mighty Apple App Store.