Sony said Tuesday that Taiwanese manufacturer HTC will produce devices that can run PlayStation games, the first time Sony has allowed an outside company to do so.
Sony Computer Entertainment, the firm’s game division, said HTC will join its new PlayStation Certified program. Under the program, Sony can approve certain devices to use its game platform and run official PlayStation titles, provided they meet hardware and software requirements.
The opening up of the PlayStation brand is a sharp change for Sony, which has long operated under the traditional game console model where titles run exclusively on its hardware. It is also an admission that the exploding popularity of smartphones and tablets – and their myriad of cheap and easily downloadable apps – presents a direct challenge to its gaming business model.
The company is hoping to leverage its strong gaming brand to expand to outside devices, while still maintaining some control over titles and the user experience. Until now, only Sony’s game consoles and tablets, as well as some of its phones, have been approved to play PlayStation titles.
Sony’s gaming division also said it will rename the platform that will provide the games to approved devices, from PlayStation Suite to PlayStation Mobile, reflecting its focus on mobile devices.
The platform includes a developer suite, the certification program, and an online software store that offers software titles.
Sony’s attempt to turn the PlayStation brand into a platform is in line with the company’s broader strategy. Faced with massive losses as its electronic products fail to win over consumers, the firm has said it will work harder to connect its devices with its extensive music, movie and game holdings through online platforms.
The Tokyo-based company recently launched a global photo-sharing service and has expanded its streaming music offering to run on Apple’s iPhone.
The E3 conference, the world’s largest gaming conference, is taking place this week in Los Angeles.