Sony Xperia Play Lacks Gaming Chops

by Matt Klassen on February 18, 2011

After months of leaked photos, rumours, and an opaque Super Bowl commercial that left the mobile public with far more questions than answers, Sony took some time at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) to officially unveil the Xperia Play, the phone that had until recently been dubbed “the Playstation Phone.”

I wrote last week on the Super Bowl commercial itself and the little information it gave us about the upcoming gaming-specific smartphone, but now we can put all the rumours and speculation to rest as Sony has finally given us something of substance to chew over.

But as one looks over the phone’s lacklustre spec sheet one thing becomes abundantly clear, whatever games the Xperia Play will be able to run, with an industry standard 1 GHz processor, they probably won’t blow anyone away, which in turn begs the question, why would anyone want to buy this phone?

My subtle disappointment aside for a moment, here’s what we now officially know about Sony’s Xperia Play gaming phone. As I mentioned briefly, it’ll sport an industry standard 1 GHz processor, have a bright 480 x 854 resolution screen that sports a capacitive touch display. It’ll also boast 400MB of built-in memory with an 8GB microSD card included in the package. Finally, it’ll feature a disappointingly average 5.1 megapixel phone while Android v2.3, aka Gingerbread, runs the whole show.

But let’s be honest here, people aren’t going to buy this phone for the camera, or for Gingerbread, or for its specs, but for the fact that Sony has promised that this phone will revolutionize mobile gaming. So now the only question remaining is, will it live up to its promises?

Unfortunately the short answer to that question is ‘no,’ as whatever the Sony Xperia Play will deliver, it’s doubtful it’ll knock anyone’s socks off. For starters, to truly revolutionize mobile gaming Sony would have to deliver a device with enhanced graphics and processor capabilities, a must to support any advanced mobile gaming. The reality, however, is that the phone sports a very average 1GHz processor, so average in fact that in 2011 it might almost be considered archaic.

The single core 1 GHz processor, in turn, dictates what sorts of games that Sony will be able to feature on the Xperia Play. Considering the fact that the Xperia Play is not any more powerful than any other phone currently out on the market, the types of games will be limited. In fact, I would seriously doubt if the quality of mobile gaming on the Xperia Play was anywhere near what’s currently available on the PSP or the PSP-Go…perhaps the very reason why Sony shied away from attached the Playstation label to this phone.

So what will you get with the Sony Xperia Play? Sure you’ll get games, and Sony representatives are going out of their way at the MWC to make it clear that the gaming experience on the Xperia Play will be fun, unique, and absolutely worthwhile for mobile gamers, but it remains to be seen exactly what sort of quality the games will be.

If Sony isn’t able to push the boundaries of the mobile gaming market on a phone with such lacklustre features, I would wager that the Xperia Play will probably follow the way of the Dodo bird and the Microsoft Kin, never to be seen again.

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Sony’s Mobile Gaming Revolution sees Lacklustre Initial Support —
August 16, 2012 at 5:38 am

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Robert February 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Firstly, I agree with the notion that the Xperia Play is under-spec’d. I expected this device to be at LEAST as powerful as the PSP, which was released almost 6yrs ago. That’s…disappointing.


There is still some serious gaming fun to be had on this device. Remember, the Android Market boasts emulators. That will allow me to play my old NES, SNES, GBC, Genesis, and Playstation One favorites WITH PHYSICAL CONTROLS.

That’s pretty sweet.

Just thinking about playing Tekken 3, Super Street Fighter 2, Final Fantasy 7 8 & 9, Super Metroid, Castlevania SOTN, Donkey Kong Country 1 & 2, Legend of Zelda: Link to the past, Super Mario World, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Star Fox, Ogre Battle, Earthworm Jim, Tony Hawk, Resident Evil 1 & 2, Tomb Raider, Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver, Tenchu, FFVI, Super Mario Bros 3, Ninja Gaiden, Sonic the Hedgehog 1 2 & 3, Phantasy Star IV, Shinobi 3, Strider, Ghouls N Ghosts, Vectorman, Samurai Showdown, etc, WITH PHYSICAL CONTROLS makes me smile.

There are SO many great games you can play on this device that even if they didn’t release new killer titles I’d be good. Just give me access to the PS1 Classics and I’m ok.

(Note: downloading roms to use with the emulators is only legal if you own a physical copy of the game. Don’t break the law. Buy the games dirt cheap and then download the roms.)

Matt Klassen February 19, 2011 at 12:15 am

While I will concede that hours of retro gaming makes this phone infinitely more attractive, the question remains, do you want all that on a subpar smartphone?

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