Back in February when the Xperia Play was finally unveiled, there were quite a few people excited to see a gaming-centric phone headed to the States. And why not? Gaming continues to be one of the top activities on smartphones, and were it not for all that annoying glass-swiping, it would probably be the top activity, right? Well, maybe not, since the D-pad-equipped Xperia Play has been subjected to a pretty embarrassing price drop, now going for $100 from Verizon on-contract.
With just two months on the market, that’s half of what the Xperia Play was asking in May when it launched. There are probably a number of factors to consider when figuring out why exactly the Play isn’t a mega-success. For one, the Xperia Play was delayed during the launch process, which actually quieted the hype rather than building anticipation. Then there’s the game selection. True gamers are used to having the world at their fingertips. With a Nintendo DS or PSP you have access to more games than you could ever play, while the Xperia Play launched with just 50 Play-optimized titles. This failed to entice gamers, as in the first month or so of the phones availability (in Europe), even the most top-selling game just barely passed 1,000 units sold.
Here’s what it really boils down to: Phones are one of, if not the, most important things we carry around each day. We use them for just about everything. So when someone walks into Verizon looking for a new phone, the Xperia Play screams “If you’re not a gamer, you probably don’t need this D-pad or the bulk. Go ahead and move along.” At the same time, when a gamer walks in to Verizon the Play probably does catch a good deal of their attention. But can it replace their Nintendo DS or PSP? With limited titles, probably not. The Xperia Play walks a line between two consumer segments, yet doesn’t effectively reach out to either side.
There’s no argument that the specs on this phone are pretty sweet: Android 2.3 Gingerbread, better graphics than a Sony PSP, a built-in D-pad, a 5-megapixel rear-camera and a front-facing shooter for video chat. Perhaps it was the price that kept people from flocking to the phone, especially since it lacks 4G support. But price certainly shouldn’t be an issue now — if you’ve wanted the Play but couldn’t cough up the cash, now is the time to get gaming.