Looks like 2016 will be the year the traditional giants of gaming stop ignoring the allure of the mobile market. After the launch of Nintendo’s long-talked about foray into smartphone games last week, Sony is following suit with the brief announcement of a new in-house studio that will be dedicated to smartphones.
Sony Corporate Entertainment (better known as SCE) has been responsible for first-party Sony franchises like Ridge Racer, God of War, and Crash Bandicoot, and it’s these franchises that could find their way onto smartphones in the near future (with the exception of Crash Bandicoot, which is currently owned by Activision Blizzard). SCE, which is renaming itself to Sony Interactive Entertainment next week, is creating a new studio called ForwardWorks that will commence operations on April 1.
According to the release, ForwardWorks will “leverage the intellectual property of the numerous PlayStation dedicated software titles and its gaming characters as well as the knowledge and know-how of gaming development expertise which was acquired over the years with PlayStation business to provide gaming application optimized for smart devices including smartphones.” It sounds like ForwardWorks will involve some developers who have worked in-house before and know the franchises well.
For now, Sony has explicitly stated that the new studio will focus on creating games for Japan and other countries in Asia, with no mention of other markets. It also sounds like the games developed will be lighter in nature, with Sony saying that ForwardWorks wants gamers “to casually enjoy full-fledged game titles.” That seems to imply the games will be more of the $0.99/free-to-play variety, although that’s only speculation at this point. We would think so, considering Sony’s PlayStation Vita handheld should be the ideal home for more complex games, but with Sony’s waning interest in supporting the Vita with more games, we have to wonder whether or not ForwardWorks is ultimately intended to phase out Sony’s handheld business.