Sony Corp. is looking to extend its lead in video games by pushing into smartphones with titles derived from its top-selling PlayStation consoles.
The electronics and entertainment conglomerate is creating a new unit called ForwardWorks Corp. that will develop and sell applications and content for smartphone users in Japan and Asia, the company said in a statement Thursday.
Sony is seeking to lure back users who are turning to smartphones to play games, especially in Asia, where mobile games and puzzle apps have become an important driver of industry growth. While Sony has an advantage, with 36 million users and the current PlayStation generation outselling consoles from Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo Co., it’s going to face plenty of competition.
Last week, Nintendo unveiled a new mobile app called Miitomo that will bring hits like Super Mario Bros. to smartphones. It quickly topped download charts.
“The mobile market has grown in size to rival that for traditional game machines,” said Masaki Tsukakoshi, a spokesman at Sony’s games unit. “We are looking to create an opportunity for more users to easily try fully fledged game titles that emphasize playability.”
Sony is also looking to build on its strong base of PlayStation fans with the introduction of a virtual-reality headset and the expansion of online content. Earlier this month, Sony said its PlayStation VR goggles will go on sale in October for $399, undercutting more expensive devices. The company is adding Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, ABC and kids networks to its PlayStation Vue TV-streaming service, and will also cut the price of the cable-TV alternative by 20 percent to $40 a month.
ForwardWorks will begin operations April 1 and be based in Tokyo, Sony said.