It might seem strange to talk about the death of the PlayStation Phone on the day it finally hits shelves. But the Xperia Play, to give it its official name, is suffering from some seriously bad publicity. Just last week O2 said “bugs and issues”, found during testing, meant that it was delaying the release of the phone for the foreseeable future.
Vodafone reckons the release will be in days rather than weeks, but it’s still desperately poor form considering some punters have had this phone on pre-order for weeks on end. The phone itself was officially announced in February, but only after a series of systematic leaks that were quite clearly emanating from Sony Ericsson itself. The hype machine was extraordinary, and with good reason. A PlayStation Phone has been talked about in one form or another for over five years.
First impressions with the Xperia Play itself haven’t been great. When we took it for a spin, we found that while the software was snappy, the build emulated the poorly-received PSPgo. The same rather loose shoulder buttons, the same awkward, low buttons that caused incessant thumb ache.
Factor in the delays, and it’s hard to see why the Xperia Play would be a go-to phone for all but the most hardcore Sony Ericsson fans. The Sony NGP is due to land later this year, offering hardcore gamers a full-on handheld experience, while the brilliant PlayStation Suite is soon set to wing its way to all compatible Android devices, no matter the OEM.
That essentially makes the Xperia Play a niche proposition. The phone itself isn’t exactly a hard sell, but Sony Ericsson delays only add to the problem. It suffered a poor 2010 thanks to sluggish Android update releases and the insistence on putting out phones that worked on creaky, ageing editions of Google’s operating system.
Now it’s caught up and started outing Android Gingerbread handsets, it’s having to row back on release dates, with networks having to explain that things aren’t as ready as they’re supposed to be.
If the phone slips on any more mobile providers, or happens to be delayed by more than just a few short days, then Sony Ericsson is going to face a huge battle to convince the gaming public that the Xperia Play is worth having.
Savvy punters already know that PlayStation Suite will usurp it and casual gamers will be happy to stick with their iPhones for the time being. Delays cause an inordinate amount of trouble, as Nokia has found out to its cost. Perhaps hyping the Xperia Play for longer, and releasing it when it was fit and raring to go, would have been a smarter option.