BARCELONA, SPAIN--It has been a busy month for Sony and its PlayStation Portable line. A few weeks ago, the Japanese manufacturer announced that it would be releasing a successor to the PSP, in the form of a brand-new device dubbed the Next Generation Portable (NGP). At an event in Barcelona before the opening of Mobile World Congress today, following months of rumour, speculation, and leaked images, Sony Ericsson formally announced that the PlayStation phone, dubbed the Xperia Play, will be released worldwide in March 2011.
Sony Ericsson announced that the Xperia Play will run the Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system when it ships. It also confirmed that the US would be one of the first markets to receive the device in early spring, through an exclusive partnership with mobile network Verizon. There are still a few grey areas in Sony's launch, though--no price has been announced for any market, while the PlayStation Store, through which consumers will buy and download games, will not launch for the device until later on in the year.
The device will be able to run HD games at 60fps, according to the manufacturer. Sony Ericsson boasts the support of Electronic Arts, Namco Bandai, Glu Mobile, PopCap, and Gameloft in terms of software. This will mean that titles from the Guitar Hero, Battlefield, and Dead Space franchises will quickly find their way onto the handheld, Sony said. Kaz Hirai, Sony Computer Entertainment's president and group CEO, was also onstage at the event to announce that the Xperia Play will launch with one "legendary PlayStation One title," although he didn't confirm which title it would be.
One other partnership confirmed in Barcelona was with Unity Technology, which provides development tools to many Web-based and mobile development studios. According to Sony Ericsson, Unity has pledged full support for the Xperia Play, meaning some 350,000 developers will be able to start transferring their 3D games to the device.