Game over for PlayStation Mobile on July 15

Sony's PlayStation Mobile experiment was supposed to bring the company's content to Android devices. But that effort never really caught on with developers and gamers alike.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Sony's PlayStation Mobile business is going away -- for good. Sony

Sony has decided to shutter its mashup of Android and traditional portable gaming.

PlayStation Mobile will stop distributing content after July 15, Sony announced on its support forums on Tuesday. In-app purchases and the re-downloading of purchased content will cease after September 10, the company said.

PlayStation Mobile, which officially launched in 2012, was supposed to be Sony's answer to the growth it was seeing in mobile gaming on platforms like iOS and Android. The service allowed PlayStation content to be accessed and played on both the company's PlayStation Vita portable gaming device, as well as PlayStation Certified Android devices.

For Sony, the move was an attempt to latch on to the changing gaming landscape, rather than try and compete against it. As it turns out, that effort proved to be troubled, as the company failed to attract enough developers and gamers tended to go with devices that didn't support the platform. Indeed, save for Sony's own products, very few mobile handsets actually supported PlayStation Mobile, and none were all that popular.

Still, it's easy to see why Sony tried its luck by targeting Android users. Over the last several years, a dramatic shift has occurred in mobile gaming. While gamers were once enthralled by portables from Nintendo and Sony, they've now turned to Android and iOS in massive numbers.

Last year, research firm Newzoo put a finer point on that, revealing that Apple's iOS platform could generate $4 billion in game revenue for the company, while Google's Android platform would score $3 billion in revenue. Nintendo's game revenues, Newzoo said in October, was just $2.4 billion in the prior year. What's more, Newzoo said that mobile gaming is well on its way to dwarfing revenue generated off consoles, with the possibility of $40.9 billion hitting mobile cash coffers in 2017.

Despite the troubles with PlayStation Mobile, Sony's PlayStation business has been soaring in recent quarters as sales of its PlayStation 4 remain strong worldwide. During its last reported quarter ended December 31, Sony's gaming division increased sales by 16.8 percent to 531.5 billion yen ($4.4 billion). The division's operating profit hit 27.6 billion yen, jumping 123 percent year over year.

That success has caused Sony to focus on gaming as a key component in its ongoing efforts to rebuild its ailing business. Last month, Sony said that the PlayStation business, along with Sony Pictures, Sony Music, and its devices operation, will play a crucial role in its operation in the coming years. Sony predicts that if it can invest more heavily in those areas, it could turn its 26.5 billion yen operating profit and 128.4 billion yen loss this year to an operating profit of over 500 billion (about $4.2 billion) by March 2018.

In that announcement, Sony also said that it would cut businesses that were underperforming. It appears PlayStation Mobile was one such business.

Sony declined to provide additional comment on the closure, pointing instead to its forum posting on the matter.

Update at 10:52 a.m. to include note about Sony's comment.