Sony's recent announcement of a forthcoming new handheld – codenamed 'Next Generation Portable' – was accompanied by a reveal of equally important news about a new download store for handhelds and mobiles, dubbed the PlayStation Suite.
The PlayStation Suite will deliver both new and retro PlayStation games to Sony's new handheld console, as well as providing games for Google Android devices such as the forthcoming Sony Ericsson Xperia Play.
PlayStation on iPhone?
What is potentially far more interesting (and wide-reaching) is the promise that we may see PlayStation Suite game downloads made available on Apple's iOS and PCs running Microsoft Windows, if recent comments from Sony boss Kaz Hirai are anything to go by.
"There are a variety of operating systems, but we're focusing first on Android," the Sony Computer Entertainment boss said in a conference this month, as Eurogamer reports.
"There's also Windows, iOS and so forth, but we don't have the resources to make it compatible with everything from the start."
"We're not ruling out PSS even on products like Sony Internet TV Powered by Google [Google TV] if adoption rate increases, or if it will help push adoption greatly. We have a completely open stance with carriers and handset makers."
NGP: a hardcore play
Which begs the question: how would such a strategy work alongside full-priced games to satisfy the hardcore gamers on Sony's new NGP?
One Britsoft veteran, who asked to remain anonymous, told TechRadar: "The one observation I would make is that if Sony adopt this strategy more widely to encompass all the major smartphone OS' then perhaps they will be devaluing their own portable gaming hardware.
"This would therefore suggest that Sony (the corporate entity) might be looking for a closer/merged future between their portable gaming hardware and their Xperia phone line. Intrinsically, it makes sense as they would be creating a much greyer overlap between mobile and portable gaming. Clever."
"NGP's a hardcore play by Sony," says Patrick Garratt, editor of news site VG247. "I think they're aiming for a high-priced machine with relatively low sales, with PS Suite taking care of the real mobile rush in the Android space.
"I'd be very surprised if you didn't see an iOS version of Suite announced this year."
The limitations of Sony making such a move – and developing iOS and Windows versions of the PlayStation Suite – are mainly commercial, not technical.
"Regarding this latest story of the possibility of Sony's PlayStation Suite heading to Apple's iOS or Microsoft Windows, it is going to be commercial (and political) barriers that might prevent the PlayStation Suite launching on other platforms rather than technical limitations," argues UK games industry analyst Nick Gibson,
Devs see sensible play from Sony
Brian McNicoll at Dynamo Games (the company behind the mobile versions of Championship Manager) is one mobile gaming developer who thinks the move would make total sense for Sony.
"In an age where everything is going digital download it makes complete sense for Sony to want to go down this avenue," McNicoll told TechRadar.
"Mobile is now a key platform in gaming and if iOS in particular is going to be considered (and allowed by Apple) then the main issue that will be encountered for bringing older PS One games back will be the difference in controls.
"If they can solve that there will be a lot of well-loved games that people will be able to download for their iPhone and iPad and it can only be a good thing for the mobile and tablet market, especially for the consumer."
Stewart Hogart over at Chunk Games agrees that it is "great that there's a real willingness towards platform independence. It's good for developers and, though they might not realise it, good for gamers too.
"It should always be about the games, not the platform. It's been on the tip of everyone's tongue for so long. Thought I'd be interested to see how the games might work on touch-screen only platforms."
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