What we learned about Sony PlayStation’s new smartphone games team

Sony wants 20% of new games to be on smartphones by 2025, and last August it announced a new PlayStation Studios mobile division to help achieve that. But you should know that what Sony builds doesn’t look like a new games studio producing its own games, or, say, a way to port Sony’s biggest games to phones the same way they’re ported to PC.

17 current and former job postings suggest that PlayStation Studios Mobile is more of a management, strategy, licensing, and cross-functional support team.

They figure out which PlayStation IP would be best suited for a mobile phone, help license that IP internally and external game studios, oversee titles, ensure final games meet Sony’s expectations – and perhaps invest in or even acquire outside developers if there’s strategic value.

Here is the description of a primary external producer role, for example:

Be an ambassador for PlayStation, working with top mobile game developers to review, produce and publish PlayStation Studios Mobile games of the highest quality, on time and on budget.

And many roles require potential employees to have “proven experience” with specific free games. I’ve only seen one game designer role so far, and its main responsibility is: “Support game design for internal projects and provide guidance for projects with external partners on F2P systems mobile phones, economy management and retention features.”

Tried and true, at least for the console

Relying on external studios wouldn’t be surprising: it’s a formula that has worked for Sony in the past. Many praised the first part And third-party games have come out of Sony’s PlayStation Studios (formerly Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios), though Sony briefly tried to pretend the brand was only about its own exclusives when the PS5 launched.

Also, this is Sony’s third attempt to release the game on smartphones, after its PlayStation Mobile platform and WayForward studio failed to produce just two games (Everyone’s Golf And Disgaea RPG) specifically for the Japanese market. (Sony was also preparing to bring its PlayStation Now cloud gaming service to phones, I found out in 2021, but let’s not count that since Sony never announced it.)

Some of the posts describe the group as a “small but rapidly growing team” where employees “will wear many hats and contribute to the burgeoning culture of mobile game design at PlayStation Studios while championing the efforts of the entire company.” .

The job postings give the impression that there is real interest in bringing in Sony’s in-house studios to produce the games as well, if those efforts are successful. The company’s head of mobile products describes his work as including titles developed both externally and internally:

Responsible for delivering PlayStation Studios quality mobile titles, including developed internally at existing studios and acquired and developed externally through licensing, co-development and co-publishing partnerships.

Most current positions are for product managers and external producers in San Mateo and Amsterdam; the company is also hiring a director of mobile engineering and a product strategy analyst. Previously, Sony was also looking for a chief financial officer, directors of mobile product management, business development and studio operations, and a Korean translator in Amsterdam.

According to their LinkedIn pages, Sony’s hires currently appear to include:

  • Nicola Sebastiani as Head of Mobile; she was previously Head of Content for Apple Arcade
  • Olivier Courtemanche as mobile product manager; he was previously Product Director for Zynga and briefly Head of Content for Meta’s Horizon. Amusingly, Sony seems to have built the role especially for him:

a:hover]:text-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-dark black:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray”>Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

  • Kris Davis as Head of Mobile Business Development; he spent seven years doing this work for Kabam
  • Uyen Uyen Ton Nu as Head of Mobile Marketing; she spent eight years doing this for Super Evil Megacorp (this studio, by the way, is working on a project for Netflix’s line of mobile games)
  • Justin Kubiak at licensing; he was a former vice president of mobile publishing at NCSoft and previously head of game partnerships for Samsung

We can’t wait to see what they come up with. Sony has previously said that Savage Game Studios, the first group PlayStation acquired to produce mobile games, already has “an unannounced new AAA live-service action game” in the works. Their job postings show that they are looking for experience with the Unreal Engine.

Nintendo also recently created a new company with its partner DeNA (co-developer of Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, etc) to potentially produce more mobile games. And like Sony, Netflix also relies on external partners for its own mobile titles, although it too has adopted the Apple Arcade strategy of bundling games you previously had to buy into its paid subscription.

#learned #Sony #PlayStations #smartphone #games #team

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