Why the First Playstation Phone Failed

Xperia Play is a smartphone powered by Android and the first device to be PlayStation-approved. It has dedicated game keys, L / R shoulder buttons, and the popular PlayStation icon action buttons and is designed for gaming. 

It is the first device to be compliant with the PlayStation Suite as the first PlayStation Certified device. This phone was launched in 2011 as a new way to offer PlayStation quality games on portable Android-based devices.

It was quite technologically-advanced for its time, but it wasn’t enough. The first Playstation phone failed. Up next we’re going to look into why.



Why the First Playstation Phone Failed
Image Source: Android Authority

The Background Story

In 2003, Nokia struggled to solve the gaming phone puzzle, but it was still a telecommunications company. People thought if If anybody could do it, it would be Sony Ericsson with it’s mighty PlayStation brand behind it

The Xperia Play never gained popularity, or much support from its parent company, though you probably know how this story ends. This Xperia, the follow-up to the popular PSP, was released months ahead of the PlayStation Vita.

Sony had pinned high expectations on the Vita. Speaking of the PSP, the basis of the Xperia Play design was the PSP Go.

In a portable form factor, a slider allowed Sony to combine a 3.8 screen and relatively comfortable hardware controls. It even had curved sides, an uncanny similarity.


The Xperia Play had a slightly larger screen with near to double the resolution – 4.0″ and 480 x 854px. With a D-pad on the left and action keys on the right, the game controls were also nearly the same. It also had L and R shoulder buttons. 

However, two touch-sensitive controls substituted the single analog joystick, although both devices had roughly the same Z-height-16.0 mm for the Xperia, 16.5 mm for the PSP. 

Yet, in the mobile world, the controls on the Xperia were miles ahead of everything else.

What Did It Offer?

Today, PlayStation understands precisely what gamers want. But that hasn’t always been the case, especially not in the case of Xperia Play. 

The Android-powered phone had two analog touchpads and its own PlayStation shop for games with a flip-out gamepad. 

Although the launch lineup had some decent game deals, there was an attempt to satisfy everyone – the PlayStation store was available on various phones. That meant the games had to be designed so everyone could play.

Many games were not designed for the killer feature of the Xperia Play: the well-appointed slide-out controller. So most of the games you could play on the phone were very short and simple, not like the popular games around. 

No One Was Ready

Sadly, something at the time was working against Sony. Android was also just coming out of its childhood, and in Android games in 2011, standard game controller support was not widespread. 

Usually, this meant that the gamepad was only good for the items you find in Sony’s PlayStation Shop. On a global scale, the phone also had limited availability, which resulted in low sales, and meant limited support from even Sony itself. 

The Xperia Play was a complete disappointment to both fans and to the company itself. 


Why the First Playstation Phone Failed
Image Source: Wikipedia


Xperia Play is one of the most unsuccessful products put out by Sony. Even, for all the publicity, in its anticipation of a PSP mashed together with a phone, the phone-buying public was fair. They didn’t get what they wanted. 

The excellent thing is that Sony has adopted the view of Android from Microsoft to improve. There is word there could be a new version of Xperia out soon.