What we’ve learned about Sony PlayStation’s new smartphone games team4 min read
Sony wants 20 percent of new games to be on smartphones by 2025, and last August it announced a new PlayStation Studios Mobile Division to help make that happen. But you should know that what Sony’s building doesn’t look like a new game studio that will produce its own games, nor, say, a way to port Sony’s biggest games to phones the way they’re getting ported to PC.
17 current and former job postings suggest that PlayStation Studios Mobile is more of a cross-functional management, strategy, licensing, and support team.
They figure what PlayStation intellectual property would best fit a mobile phone, help dish out that licensed IP to internal and external game studios alike, oversee the titles, make sure the final games live up to Sony’s expectations — and maybe invest or even acquire external developers if there’s strategic value in it.
Here’s the description for a Senior External Producer role, for example:
Be an ambassador for PlayStation, collaborating with top mobile game developers in evaluating, producing and releasing PlayStation Studios Mobile games at the highest level of quality, on time and on budget.
And many roles ask prospective employees to have a “proven track record” with free-to-play games specifically. I’ve only seen one game designer role so far, and its primary responsibility is: “Support game design for internal projects and provide consultation for projects with external partners on mobile F2P systems, economy management and retention features.”
Tried and true, at least for console
Leaning on external studios wouldn’t be surprising: it’s a formula that’s worked for Sony in the past. Many lauded first-party and third-party games have come out of Sony’s PlayStation Studios (formerly Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios), even if Sony did briefly try to pretend the brand was solely about its own first-party exclusives when the PS5 first launched.
Besides, this is the third time Sony’s tried to get smartphone gaming off the ground, following its failed PlayStation Mobile platform and its WayForward studio that’s only produced two games (Everybody’s Golf and Disgaea RPG) specifically for the Japanese market. (Sony was also preparing to bring its PlayStation Now cloud gaming service to phones, I discovered in 2021, but let’s not count that since Sony never announced it.)
Some of the postings describe the group as a “small but quickly growing team” where employees will “wear many hats and contribute to the nascent culture for mobile game design at PlayStation Studios while championing the efforts across the company.”
The job postings do make it seem like there’s real interest in tapping Sony’s internal studios to produce the games, too, should those efforts be championed successfully. The company’s head of mobile product describes his job as including both externally and internally developed titles:
Responsible for delivery of PlayStation Studios quality mobile titles, including internally developed within existing & acquired studios and externally developed via licensing, co-development and co-publishing partnerships.
Most current roles are for product managers and external producers in San Mateo and Amsterdam; the company’s also hiring a Director of Mobile Engineering and a product strategy analyst. Previously, Sony also went looking for a finance manager, directors of mobile product management, business development and studio operations, and a Korean translator in Amsterdam.
According to their LinkedIn pages, Sony’s hires currently appear to include:
Nicola Sebastiani as head of mobile; she formerly was head of content for Apple Arcade Olivier Courtemanche as head of mobile product; he was formerly director of product for Zynga and briefly head of content for Meta’s Horizon. Amusingly, Sony appears to have built the role specifically for him:
Hope nobody else applied for this job! Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge
Kris Davis as head of mobile business development; he spent seven years doing that job for KabamUyen Uyen Ton Nu as head of mobile marketing; she spent eight years doing that for Super Evil Megacorp (that studio, by the way, is working on a project for Netflix’s mobile games lineup)Justin Kubiak in licensing; he was former VP of mobile publishing at NCSoft and previously head of games partnerships for Samsung
We’re definitely eager to see what they come up with. Sony has previously said that Savage Game Studios, the first group that PlayStation acquired to produce mobile games, already has “a new unannounced AAA mobile live service action game” in the works. Their job postings show they’re looking for experience with the Unreal Engine.
Nintendo also recently stood up a new company with partner DeNA (co-developer of Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, etc) to potentially produce more mobile games. And like Sony, Netflix also leans on external partners for its own mobile titles, though it’s also taken the Apple Arcade strategy of bundling games you previously had to buy into its paid subscription.