Interview: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Smartphone

Stephen Sneeden
Stephen Sneeden

In this interview with Sony Ericsson's Stephen Sneeden, you'll learn how Sony Ericsson has introduced an innovative smartphone to the market, proving that no two technologies go together better than video gaming and mobile technology. The phone is called Xperia PLAY, a next generation smartphone that offers not only all of the latest technologies and apps that Android phones offer, but also an integrated gaming controller that lets users play full-fledged Playstation games.

Xperia PLAY is a Smartphone for Gamers

Avid gamers have always had to carry around both a smartphone for their mobile phone needs, and a mobile gaming unit like the PSP, for their mobile gaming needs. With Xperia PLAY, Sony Ericsson offers gamers the opportunity to shed their handheld game device and still enjoy the same quality games on a mobile phone.

Stephen Sneeden is on the Regional Americas marketing team at Sony Ericsson, where he offers regular communications to media about many of the products that the company offers. Stephen agreed to discuss the Xperia PLAY smartphone with LoveToKnow Cell Phones.

Inspiration and Development

LTK (LoveToKnow): What was the inspiration for the Xperia PLAY smartphone, and the concept of combining a gaming controller and smartphone technologies?

SS (Stephen Sneeden): The inspiration first came from the community of gamers who, several years ago, started sharing rumors about and desires for a so-called "PlayStation phone" that really did not exist outside of their imagination.

Later came the realization that smartphones were becoming the biggest growth opportunity for gaming, and that games were becoming the biggest category of paid-for smartphone content. Even so, gaming on a touch screen did not offer the same immersive gaming experience of a gaming console.

The real game controls of the Xperia PLAY provide a superior gaming experience for combination key presses and for the variety of actions performed in most games. The tactile response of real gaming controls and the fact that your fingers don't get in the way of the action on the screen, also add to the greater enjoyment of the Xperia PLAY over a smartphone that can only use the touch screen for gaming.

LTK: Were there any technical challenges to integrating the game controller technology?

SS: While there are technical challenges with any new device, we placed great confidence in the Sony PlayStation group for designing the Xperia PLAY's gaming controller. Their dedication, collaboration, and expertise smoothed the way for bringing the world's first PlayStation Certified device to market.

From the game developer's perspective, it has been relatively easy to adapt games to the Xperia PLAY's gaming controller because of the openness of the Android platform and the readily available developer resources, such as Google's Android SDK and APK as well as the API's integration into Unity Technology's Unity platform. In addition, Sony Ericsson's Developer World community provides additional support to help developers create great games for the Xperia PLAY.

Xperia PLAY Features

LTK: Does the have the standard features of most other Android Smartphones?

SS: Xperia PLAY runs on Android version 2.3 (Gingerbread) and has the standard features for that version of Android. That version is a step forward than previous versions of Android with improvements to the UI, faster and lighter processes that are easier on the processor (and so use less battery), and an all around improvement on things like text entry and editing, actions performed with voice recognition and - especially important for the Xperia PLAY - game performance.

With Xperia™ PLAY, the key difference is the new native APIs that allow us to make use of elements like the hardware gaming controls for even better game play.

LTK: In addition to the seven preloaded games and the games available at launch at V CAST and Android Market, are there plans to add more games?

SS: The phone has a vibrant and ever-growing ecosystem of optimized games available for download, including first person shooters, fantasy role playing, racing, sports and more. There are more than one hundred games out there right now via V CAST and Android Market. Additionally, exciting new titles are being released monthly from a variety of publishers.

For example, coming soon to the Xperia PLAY is the pocket edition of the hugely popular PC game Minecraft by Mojang. Minecraft represents an excellent full utilization of the Xperia's game controller. Many Xperia-optimized games have online multiplayer capability, including some games that fall into the massively multiplayer online (MMO) category. Gamers can visit Sony Ericsson's games page for the latest title releases and news about upcoming games.

A Playstation Certified Smartphone

LTK: What does it mean that the Xperia is "PlayStation Certified"?

SS: We're excited to bring the world's first PlayStation Certified smartphone to the world with Xperia PLAY. PlayStation Certified is a program from Sony that guarantees PlayStation gaming experience on handsets. Sony only certifies handsets that meet the high technical standards needed to deliver a quality, console‐like gaming experience. The handsets go through an extensive quality assurance testing procedure - an integrated part of the development process.

Besides PlayStation Certified, another key qualifying term is "Xperia PLAY optimized". This type of game is one in which the game publisher offers a version that makes use of Xperia's real game controller, as opposed to a game that can only be played on a simple touch screen.

LTK: Do you feel that gaming smartphones represent the direction that mobile devices are headed in the future, or only for a certain segment/age group of the user base?

SS: Most smartphone owners are playing games of some form on their smartphones. That's a pretty broad audience. Of course, the Xperia PLAY will appeal especially to the more hard-core gamers, but we feel that a good percentage of folks who are looking more and more to their smartphones for rich entertainment capabilities in general, including gaming, will be drawn to devices that take gaming to a higher level. The Xperia phone epitomizes Sony Ericsson's mission of bringing to market the world's most entertaining smartphones.

The Future of Mobile Gaming

It was only a matter of time before mobile smartphone technologies merged with mobile gaming handsets, to form a new generation of smartphone. If the Xperia smartphone is any indication, this next generation of smartphones will offer mobile users some of the most advanced and exciting mobile entertainment.

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Interview: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Smartphone