Sony's Hirai to Nvidia: Handheld gaming is 'not an easy business'

Hirai wasn't willing to say for sure whether he thinks Nvidia's Shield gaming device will be successful.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveils Nvidia Shield, a brand-new gaming device that leverages Android and the Tegra 4 quad-core processor.
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveils Nvidia Shield, a brand-new gaming device that leverages Android and the Tegra 4 quad-core processor. James Martin/CNET

Sony Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai has a warning for Nvidia as that company eyes the gaming space.

"It's not an easy business to get into," Hirai told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published yesterday. He went on to say that it's too early to tell if Nvidia can succeed in the hotly contested mobile-gaming space, adding that the industry is littered with the remains of companies that have tried and failed.

Nvidia earlier this week announced a new portable-gaming device , named "Shield," that runs on Android and its new quad-core Tegra 4 processor. The device, which could launch in the next few months, connects to the cloud to play Android games. TegraZone games and PC titles compatible with GeForce graphics are also supported.

The handheld-gaming market has proved difficult for any company not named Nintendo. And though Sony has stayed in the space, its PlayStation Portable and the more recent PlayStation Vita are still far behind the Nintendo GameBoy, DS, and 3DS.

Hirai wouldn't comment on the PlayStation Vita's performance compared with competing devices, but he did say that the handheld's sales are "on the low end of what we expected."

Nvidia's device, however, is intriguing if nothing else. Unlike the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita, which largely stick to traditional handheld ideas of locking gamers into titles designed for those devices, the Shield attempts to bridge the gap with the increasingly popular smartphone and cloud-based gaming markets. With support for Android and PC titles, the Shield will launch with a massive library of available titles. And if gamers are willing to accept a dedicated gaming device -- something that they've recently shown some unwillingness toward -- Nvidia might have a winner on its hands.

 

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