Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), the Sony subsidiary behind the PlayStation console, has announced that it’s forming a new company specifically to build games for mobile devices. “ForwardWorks” will be officially incorporated on April 1 — the same day SCE is due to merge with Sony Network Entertainment International (SNEI) to create Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), a new business dedicated to PlayStation.
The move shows that Sony isn’t giving up on the $34.8 billion mobile segment of the $99.3 billion global gaming market — even if it failed in its first attempt with PlayStation Mobile, a now abandoned initiative that sought to make some games available on select Android phones.
Sony said it will use its existing PlayStation titles and characters to create games for “smart devices including smartphones” (Android and iOS) for users in Japan and the broader Asia region. “SIE will vigorously maximize the corporate value and create new business opportunities through the establishment of ForwardWorks,” the company said in a press release.
Heading up ForwardWorks will be president Atsushi Morita, who’s currently president of SCE Japan and Asia, while the head of the new combined SIE unit, Andrew House, will sit on the board.
While the giants of the gaming world have long embraced “mobile” through handheld consoles, they have largely steered clear of building games specifically for mobile devices. However, there has been a clear change in strategy — just last week, Nintendo launched its first mobile game, Miitomo, which topped the Japanese App Store in under two days.
Though ForwardWorks will be limited to the Asian market for now, it’s a notable change in direction for Sony — and it’s indicative, if nothing else, that the omnipresence of smartphones is just too difficult to ignore. This doesn’t mean that the console market is dead, however — it’s still said to be worth around $30 billion globally. But it is telling that Sony, as with Nintendo, is focusing specifically on Japan and Asia with its first foray into making smartphone games.
As GamesBeat’s Jeff Grubb recently noted, Japan no longer matters to PlayStation. “Japan is now a mobile gaming-first market,” he said. Two million PS4s have sold in Japan, compared to 35 million globally — and that tells its own story.