What we learned about Sony PlayStation’s new smartphone gaming team

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Sony wants 20 percent of new games to be on smartphones by 2025, and last August it announced a new PlayStation Studios Mobile Division to make that happen. But you need to know what Sony is building not look like a new game studio going to produce its own games, nor a way to port Sony’s biggest games to phones the way they are ported to PC.

17 current and past job openings suggest that PlayStation Studios Mobile is more of a cross-functional management, strategy, licensing and support team.

They figure out which PlayStation intellectual property best suits a mobile phone, and help hand out that licensed IP address internally and external both game studios, oversee the titles, make sure the final games meet Sony’s expectations – and perhaps invest or even acquire third-party developers if there’s strategic value in them.

This is the description for a Senior External Producer role, for example:

Be an ambassador for PlayStation and work with the best mobile game developers to evaluate, produce and release PlayStation Studios Mobile games at the highest quality level, on time and on budget.

And many roles ask potential employees for a “proven track record” particularly with free-to-play games. I’ve only seen one role as a game designer until now, and his primary responsibility is: “Support game design for internal projects and consultation for projects with external partners on mobile F2P systems, economy management and retention features.”

Tried and true, at least for console

Leaning on outside studios wouldn’t be surprising: it’s a formula that has worked for Sony in the past. Many praised the first batch And Third-party games evolved from Sony’s PlayStation Studios (formerly Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios), even though Sony briefly tried to pretend the brand was all about its own first-party exclusives when the PS5 first launched.

By the way, this is Sony’s third attempt to get smartphone gaming off the ground, following the failed PlayStation Mobile platform and the WayForward studio that produced only two games (Golf from everyone And Disgaea RPG) especially for the Japanese market. (Sony was also preparing to bring its PlayStation Now cloud gaming service to phones, I found out in 2021, but let’s not count that since Sony never announced it.)

Some posts describe the group as a “small but fast-growing team” where employees “will wear many hats and contribute to the burgeoning mobile game design culture at PlayStation Studios while championing the company-wide effort.”

From the job postings, it seems like there’s a real interest in tapping into Sony’s in-house studios to produce the games as well, should those efforts be successfully championed. The company’s head of mobile products describes his job as both externally and internally developed titles:

Responsible for the delivery of premium mobile titles from PlayStation Studios, including internally developed within existing and acquired studios and developed externally through licensing, co-development and co-publishing partnerships.

Most current roles are for product managers and outside manufacturers in San Mateo and Amsterdam; the company also rents one Director of Mobile Technology and a product strategy analyst. Sony also went looking earlier a financial managerdirectors of mobile product management, business development And studio operationsand a Korean translator in Amsterdam.

According to their LinkedIn pages, Sony’s hirings currently appear to include:

  • Nicola Sebastiani as head mobile; she was formerly head of content for Apple Arcade
  • Olivier Courtemanche as head of mobile products; he was formerly director of product for Zynga and briefly head of content for Metas Horizon. Funnily enough, Sony seems to have that built the role especially for him:

Hope no one else has applied for this job!
Screenshot of Sean Hollister / The Verge

  • Kris Davis as head of mobile business development; he did that work for Kabam for seven years
  • Uyen Uyen Ton Now as head of mobile marketing; she did that for eight years for Super Evil Megacorp (that studio, by the way, is working on a project for Netflix’s mobile game lineup)
  • Justin Kubiak in Licensing; he was a former VP of Mobile Publishing at NCSoft and previously Head of Games Partnerships for Samsung

We are certainly curious to see what they come up with. Sony has previously said that Savage Game Studios, the first group to acquire PlayStation to produce mobile games, already has “another unannounced AAA mobile live service action game” in the works. Their job postings show that they are looking for experience with the Unreal Engine.

Nintendo also recently formed a new company with partner DeNA (co-developer of Super Mario run, Fire Emblem heroes, etc.) to potentially produce more mobile games. And like Sony, Netflix also relies on third-party partners for its own mobile titles, though it’s also used the Apple Arcade strategy of bundling games you previously had to buy into its paid plan.