It looks like 2015 is shaping up to be the year of mobile gaming that will transform smartphones into the next real console. Mobile gaming has exploded in popularity over the last several years. Big Fish Games notes that the global mobile games industry will reach nearly $24 billion in revenue by 2016. It was with this in mind that Sony chose to release the Xperia Z3 smartphone that has the ability to play PlayStation 4 games remotely. This connection opens up a plethora of game development opportunities and could change the future of smartphones.
The Xperia and Remote Play
More than three years ago, Verizon attempted to launch a remote play function with its Xperia Play device—the very first mobile device to forge a connection with the PlayStation. Sadly, Xperia Play was little more than a tenuous link to console gaming. It featured titles that were “PlayStation Certified,” and while there were many original PlayStation One titles available, the bulk of the games were ports of PlayStation Portable titles.
The Xperia Play was not a tremendous success for Sony, but the idea was ahead of its time. Since then, Sony has redoubled their efforts to make this idea a reality. The Xperia Z3 is the realization of that idea. The Xperia Z3 features the PlayStation Remote Play function, which is much like the PlayStation Vita, making it a smartphone extension of the PlayStation multimedia experience.
By streaming games directly to your mobile device, Sony creates a world where blockbuster video games exist on every device, not just on gaming consoles. Furthermore, this link could be the feature that gets gaming consumers to seriously look at smartphones as gaming consoles. According to CNET, Sony has sold more than 10 million PlayStation 4 units and has a large, loyal base of gamers.
The Reaction and the Future
So far, the reaction from the gaming and tech community has been primarily positive. However, there are some issues. For instance, many tech review sites have reported latency issues when it comes to streaming PlayStation 4 video games via the Remote Play app. Streaming the console experience to smartphones is a difficult process that requires fine tuning of software applications, and, with some games, latency issues can make them unplayable. But, like any new software, there will be updates that address these issues.
Despite these early software setbacks, sites like Android Authority have noted that the Xperia Remote Play feature is fun to use and is one of the best features in an already great line of mobile devices. Control input has always been an obstacle to creating a console experience on a mobile device, but Sony’s Game Control Mount is an elegant, in-house solution that allows players to couple their existing control peripherals with their mobile device.
Sony’s competitors in the video game arena, such as Microsoft, have yet to offer anything similar—there simply isn’t a Windows phone that can play Xbox One titles. While the Wii U offers a somewhat portable gaming experience, it is a dedicated gaming device and not a smartphone. In addition, it lacks the vast library of titles that the PlayStation platform offers.