For all its flaws, mobile gaming is kind of a big deal. Even world-class gaming hardware and software companies like Sony would be ill-advised to ignore it. And they aren't: today Sony announced that it's forming a new first-party development company called ForwardWorks, which will work exclusively on game development for mobile. Presumably that means Android games (since Sony manufactures Android hardware and leverages it with its PlayStation brand) and iOS games (since it would be foolish to ignore that potential revenue).
ForwardWorks will be based out of Tokyo as a fully-owned Sony subsidiary. At the moment it isn't clear what the focus of the developer will be: mobile tie-ins to popular Sony franchises like Killzone, Infamous, Little Big Planet, and Uncharted are obvious picks, but there's plenty of money to be made in mobile-only franchises as well if developers can score a win with the first title. Gamers could hold out hope that the ForwardWorks developers avoid the siren song of free-to-play and in-app purchases, but at this point that seems extremely unlikely.
Mobile games are now the largest segment of video games overall with 25 billion dollars in revenue in 2015 according to Superdata Research. Even though Sony and Nintendo have relied on a healthy console market for decades, they can no longer afford to ignore smartphones, even if that means making some radical changes to their business models. Nintendo recently released Miitomo, its first ever mobile app, and is planning on releasing Pokemon Go later this year. With an incorporation date of April 1st, it will probably be a year or more before any games from ForwardWorks make it to the Play Store.
- Sony Japan