Sony wants 20 percent of new games to be on smartphones by 2025, and last August announced a new mobile division of PlayStation Studios to help make that happen. But you should know what Sony is building do not do they don’t look like a new game studio that will produce their own games, nor, say, a way to port Sony’s biggest games to phones the way they port to PC.
17 current and former job postings suggest that PlayStation Studios Mobile is more of a cross-functional management, strategy, licensing and support team.
They consider which PlayStation intellectual property would best fit on mobile, help bring that licensed IP to the in-house and external game studios, oversee the titles, make sure the final games meet Sony’s expectations — and maybe invest in or even acquire outside developers if there’s strategic value in doing so.
Here is the Senior External Producer role description, for example:
Be a PlayStation ambassador by collaborating with top mobile game developers to evaluate, produce and release PlayStation Studios Mobile games at the highest level of quality, on time and on budget.
And many positions require prospective employees to have “proven experience” specifically with free games. I’ve only seen one game designer role so far, and her primary responsibility is: “Support game design for internal projects and provide project consulting with external partners on mobile F2P systems, economy management, and retention features.”
Tried and true, at least for console
Relying on outside studios wouldn’t be surprising: it’s a formula that’s worked for Sony in the past. Much praised first party and third-party games came out of Sony’s PlayStation Studios (formerly Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios), even if Sony briefly tried to pretend that the brand was only for its own first-party exclusives when the PS5 first launched .
Also, this is Sony’s third attempt to launch games on smartphones, following the failed PlayStation Mobile platform and WayForward studio, which only produced two games (Everyone is a golfer and Disgaea RPG) specifically for the Japanese market. (Sony was also preparing to bring its PlayStation Now cloud gaming service to phones, I found, in 2021, but let’s not count it out since Sony never announced it.)
Some of the posts describe the group as a “small but fast-growing team” where employees will “wear many hats and contribute to the emerging mobile game design culture at PlayStation Studios while supporting efforts across the company.”
The job postings make it appear that there is real interest in bringing in Sony’s in-house studios to produce the games, should those efforts be successful. The company’s head of mobile product describes his work as including both externally and internally developed titles:
Responsible for the delivery of quality PlayStation Studios mobile titles, including internally developed within existing and acquired studios and externally developed through licensing, co-development and co-publishing partnerships.
Most current roles 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 finance manager, directors of mobile product management, business development and studio operations, and a Korean translator in Amsterdam.
According to their LinkedIn pages, Sony employees currently appear to include:
- Nicola Sebastiani as head of the mobile department; she was previously head of content for Apple Arcade
- Olivier Courtemanche as Head of Mobile Product; previously served as Product Director for Zynga and briefly Head of Content for Meta’s Horizon. Amusingly, Sony seems to have built the role specifically for him:
- Chris 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 mobile game range)
- Justin Kubiak in Licensing; he was formerly VP of mobile publishing at NCSoft and before that head of gaming partnerships for Samsung
We’re definitely looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Sony previously said that Savage Game Studios, the first group that PlayStation acquired to make mobile games, now has a “new unannounced AAA mobile live-action game” in development. Theirs job postings indicate they are looking for Unreal Engine experience.
Nintendo also recently formed a new company with partner DeNA (co-developer of Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Charactersetc) to potentially produce more mobile games. And like Sony, Netflix also relies on third-party partners for its own mobile titles, though it has also adopted Apple Arcade’s strategy of bundling games you previously had to buy into a paid subscription.