Sony will try to expand into mobile gaming again with a new studio focused on its development.
Sony Computer Entertainment will start a new company called ForwardWorks Corporation that will create mobile games for iOS and Android smartphones using PlayStation properties and characters, it announced on Thursday.
ForwardWorks will open on April 1 in Tokyo, Japan, the same day that SCE changes over to Sony Interactive Entertainment as the PlayStation businesses are unified under one company.
ForwardWorks will be focused on Japan and other Asian territories for now. Its goal is to “deliver users with opportunity to casually enjoy full-fledged game titles” on phones and other smart devices.
Atsushi Morita will be ForwardWorks’ president, who is currently the president of SCE Japan Asia. Andrew House, the president and group CEO of SCE, will serve as one of its board members. The company will start with 10 million yen in capital, which is close to $89,000.
Sony didn’t reveal what PlayStation franchises and characters it plans to bring to mobile or a time-frame of when these games would be launching. There was also no announcement about bringing these applications to North America or other countries.
Japan has a high volume of mobile players, where gaming on those devices is extremely popular in the country and shifting to a preferred platform over home consoles. In 2015 mobile games generated an estimated $6.2 billion in Japan.
Sony has its own brand of Android smartphones, like the Xperia line of devices.
This is Sony’s second attempt in the smartphone space. It launched PlayStation Mobile in 2012, a framework that brought games to certain Android devices under the PlayStation banner, which were primarily made by independent creators using an open development program provided by Sony.
One of the service’s goals was to make the games compatible with the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation TV and allow developers to gain experience working on Sony’s platforms. In January 2011 Sony originally announced PlayStation Suite, a framework that was supposed to unite Android devices with other PlayStation platforms. Sony’s Xperia Play, a PlayStation-designed Android phone that released in 2011, was supposed to be one of the platform’s flagship devices. Suite evolved into PlayStation Mobile the next year.
Sony stopped supporting PlayStation Mobile on Android devices in July 2014. The company closed the brand’s digital storefronts in July 2015 and permanently shut down the service in September 2015 after it ultimately failed to catch on.
Sony’s next move into mobile is following a similar path as Nintendo, which also plans to bring its franchises to smart devices in games developed specifically for those platforms. Its first game, Miitomo, has over 1 million users in Japan since its launch on March 17, taking only three days to reach that milestone.
Sony also still sells the Vita handheld, which has seen fewer games from first-party studios and a strong shift towards independent digital titles since its launch in December 2011 for Japan and February 2012 in North America and Europe.