PlayStation has long been Sony’s foremost game franchise, but that may be about to change. The Tokyo-based technology giant has unveiled a new company, ForwardWorks Corporation, which will focus on making games for cell phones and other smart devices.
Set to launch April 1, 2016, ForwardWorks will use licensing rights of existing PlayStation franchises and characters to capitalize on its new ambitions. Like Sony, the company will be based in Tokyo. ForwardWorks will be headed by Chief of PlayStation in Japan and Asia Atsushi Morita. Another familiar face on the board of directors: President of Sony Computer Entertainment Andrew House.
Though no specific games have been announced by the new company, they are slated for an initial Asia-only release. Sony told The Wall Street Journal that there’s a good chance the games will eventually be available worldwide, saying the company “decided to focus on Japan and Asia for this new initiative because the mobile games are especially large in these regions when compared with other markets.”
The games will be designed for both iOS and Android devices.
Sony explained in a statement that ForwardWorks “will aim to deliver users with opportunity to casually enjoy full-fledged game titles in the new filed [sic] of the smart device market.”
Sony’s announcement comes on the heels of a recent initiative by Nintendo to use franchises and characters to develop mobile-based games. Nintendo’s first attempt at mobile gaming, Miitomo, was a success when launched in Japan earlier this month. The game was downloaded more than a million times in three days. Miitomo builds onto the social aspect of mobile technology, letting users create Miis (virtual avatars) and interact with friends’ Miis.
This is not Sony’s first attempt at delving into the mobile gaming market. The company’s prior leaps into the field with PlayStation Mobile and the Xperia Play phone were largely unsuccessful. However, as cell phone technology improves, the market demand for advanced mobile gaming grows.
The launch of ForwardWorks isn’t the only big move Sony is making on April 1. The company will also change its name that day to Sony Interactive Entertainment from Sony Computer Entertainment.
The company is being started with about $89,000, or 10 million yen, in capital.
This has been a big month of bombshells by Sony, and specifically PlayStation. The company just began selling PlayStation VR, the first advanced virtual reality headset to hit the mainstream market. The company is also rumored to be in development of PlayStation 4.5, although the specs of that are not as clear.