Sony Ends PlayStation Mobile

Posted by on March 10th, 2015 | 22 Comments | Tags:

I don’t think it’s controversial to say that PlayStation Mobile’s best days have been behind it for a while now. What was once a highly curated store that featured content like Switch Galaxy, Console Saga, Adventure Bar Labyrinth, Rymdkapsel, Yu-Nama: The Puzzle and many more became a save haven for uninspired knockoffs of popular mobile games as well as content that can be described as student projects. The decline in quality became so noticeable that PlayStation Mobile became our biggest disappointment of 2014. However, I don’t think any of us wanted the solution to be the discontinuation of the service, but come July 15th, Sony will no longer add new games to the store. It gets even worse, after September 10th, Sony will no longer allow users to download their previously purchased content or purchase in-app items. You’ll still be able to play what you’ve bought, so long as you authenticated your content:

  • For PS Vita users: You will need to complete the device activation process by performing the steps below between March 10, 2015, and September 10, 2015:
    Go to [Settings] > [PSN℠] > [System Activation] > [PlayStation Mobile] > [Activate] > [OK].
  • For PlayStation®Certified device users: You will need to open up the PSM app and launch any purchased PSM content between April 10, 2015 and September 10, 2015*3 to complete the content authentication process.
  • Please ensure that you have downloaded all of the games that you want to keep. After September 10, 2015, you will not be able to re-download your purchased content.
  • Devices that are not authenticated prior to September 10, 2015 will be unable to access previously purchased PSM content after that date.

You might be asking why that additional step is needed: it’s because PlayStation Mobile used a weird form of DRM. The service required you to connect to Sony’s servers every month or else the game wouldn’t boot. Presumably this re-authentication disables the required visits.

Naturally, developers producing for the platform weren’t enthused to hear about its discontinuation:

Sony launched PlayStation Mobile on Android and PS Vita in October 2012. Support for Android development ended last year.

[Source: PlayStation Support Forums]

To tell you the truth, I’m about as disappointed in Sony as the developers quoted above. That’s saying something when I’m the one that compiles our weekly PlayStation Mobile coverage and have seen first hand how it shifted from indie innovation to yet another Flappy Bird clone. If I acknowledge that the platform has seen better days, then why am I disappointed? Because I’m a firm believer that a couple of good games are worth shoveling through the bunch that aren’t. Games like Ambition of the Slimes, Behind You, Palomino, Instant Dungeon, Voxelmaker (okay, not really a game) and MUSYNC are proof that the platform still had quality content in its post-curated life. While I’m not a fan of the content selected, I thought the Appli Archives program was great from a game preservation standpoint. Now a series of releases meant to preserve pre-smartphone mobile games from being lost to the sands of time, is about to be lost to the sands of time.

I don’t think Sony could have prevented the decline in overall quality. PlayStation Mobile launched as a half-hearted attempt to support both PS Vita and Android. Back then PS Vita was billed as being a machine for AAA games like Asssasin’s Creed and Call of Duty, so PlayStation Mobile became the successor to PSP Minis, and housed indie creators. But as Sony tore down the walls for native development on PlayStation, segmented marketplaces like PlayStation Mobile no longer made sense for professional developers. Visibility was just too low, which resulted in poor sales. When they removed the $100 fee to develop PSM games, Sony opened the platform up to hobbyists, students and those who otherwise couldn’t publish on PlayStation. For better or for worse, it became Sony’s equivalent to the Xbox Live Indie Games program. It was during this shift that you saw PlayStation Mobile coverage from official Sony venues evaporate.

PlayStation Mobile was a failure of execution, not concept. Opening up a way for anyone to develop content for PS Vita was, and still is a smart idea. Not including trophy support? Awful idea. Allowing single region game approval to mean a release in all global markets? An idea so good that the main PlayStation Store should’ve used it from the start. No review codes for content that wasn’t curated by Sony? A great way to ensure most press outlets won’t even look at the platform. Segregating PSM content into its own store that requires steps to find, even on PS Vita? An awful idea that only makes it harder for people to discover content. Initially limiting hardware spec to accommodate vastly outdated Android phones? In hindsight, a really awful one. I understand that Sony Computer Entertainment wanted to support the Xperia Play and lean on the Android userbase for sales support (much like how PSP Minis leaned on PS3) but the implementation was severely lacking. It only supported a few phones and tablets, with many of them requiring a convoluted process to install the PlayStation Mobile store. Content wise there wasn’t much to attract an Android user away from Google Play either. Instead of buouying the platform to success, it put off prospective developers who were only interested in Sony’s handheld, as well as consumers who wanted more taxing Vita games.

The PlayStation Mobile team started to address part of that issue last year with the Unity partnership. That made PS Vita the only traditional platform where you could not only publish content for free, but also export from Unity at no additional cost. This resulted in a boom in releases, and it’s in the middle of this development boom that Sony is killing the service.

The death of PlayStation Mobile only hurts the people Sony shouldn’t be hurting. It hurts the developers producing content for it, because in most cases it wasn’t PSM vs native development, it was PSM or no game on PlayStation at all. It’s bad for consumers as they have less gaming options on Vita, and now have to worry about what will happen once Sony shuts down the servers for their dedicated platforms. I’m sure it saves Sony a few dollars, though!

  • While I’m not terribly surprised about this, it certainly is a bummer. Especially for me personally since one of my pet projects was porting a student project over just to say “Hey, I got my game on PlayStation!” (yeah, sure, only for PSVita/PSTV, but still!)

    I just hope that Sony would continue to do something like PSM/XBLIG to make publishing on their platform super accessible with little to no barriers. It was refreshing to be able to easily port a simple Unity level right onto my Vita and actually play it, without going through major hoops or acquiring a dev kit. Imagine that for PS4 or even PS3.

    On a business standpoint, I doubt Sony would do that (not to mention that it’s pretty risky in ways). I don’t think they’ll see much money coming back from doing something like this, but if they want to still appeal to the indies, having the platform a little more open would help.

    yeah, There’s a lot of crap on both PS Mobile and XBL Indie Games, but there’s still several standouts, and I hope something like that continues in this generation…

  • Chris

    Now how will Meme Run come to PSM?

    • JonathanisPrimus

      The shutdown of PSM is proof that the Illuminati are real.

  • Elvick

    Not surprised, but personally I gave up a long time ago. I bought more than I’d like to admit on it early on and there were some solid games there.

    The best ones later being ported to Vita natively… so it was pointless for me to have bought them originally. And the lack of system features like livearea support, trophies and those things really didn’t give me reason to play them. I’d rather just play a PSone Classic if I’m going to play something without trophies and that no one will see I’m playing.

    Hopefully any games worth their salt will be ported to Vita proper, if they haven’t been already.

  • TesshuAriyama

    will PsVita still allow games to be downloaded normally like psone psp ps vita games? 🙁

    • JonathanisPrimus


  • HAppY_KrAToS

    this is what scares me the most.
    today, we’re still able to play our +20yo megadrive-nes-super nes games, without any issues. and they all work, are bug-free, and can be finished, without any bug that reboots the system, or without any patch that contains 30% of the game content.

    what about in 4-5+ years ? what about my Mass effect 1-2-3 dlcs i have purchased, along all the weapons packs? what about the game updates and patches, that makes the games fully playable, and bring more content ?

    what if, suddenly, i’m not able to download those critical updates, and my games are totally broken without them ?

    these are the subjects the gaming press should focus on, instead of posting another article bashing sony, or trashing the new ps4 exclusive game.

    what if big websites like polygon, gamespot, ign, edge, eurogamer, etc, would ask sony and microsoft, about the future of live and psn, regarding the “old” ps3 and x360 games ?

    THAT, would be super important for us, gamers. but as long as video gamers are treated like kids, and games, like little expensive toys, well, nobody will ever defend us and our rights.

  • Aristides

    …I’m a registered dev and they didn’t even bother to inform me >_> … this sucks beyond words, I never got to publish a game on the platform but now there’s not even a point to developing my prototypes further on the platform…

    My faith in the game industry will end the moment Sony cuts support for the rest of the PS Vita prematurely like they did with this…

    • RotateMe

      Same here, started working on something about a month ago, and really started to put my hopes up that it might be something big. I have no idea what to do with it now, since I didn’t even use Unity, but the PSM SDK … aside from srt assets and level designs, I can now put a lot of work on porting the code to something else, but the main point is, the game was designed especially for the Vita. Is there ANY way now for us “hobby” developers to get something on the Vita?

    • Aristides

      As far as hobby development goes I’m afraid not :/ Commercial development is your only option to get something going on the Vita now. Thankfully it’s not hard to get licensed as far as I can tell but you do need some money and legal preparations to get it going.

    • Guest

      Vita is already dead and you know it. Don’t waste your precious time on a PauperStation platform because it’s all lies and overhype that underdelivers.

    • DyingLight2K

      Hiding behind a guess account again, eh?
      Vita already dead my a**! Go back to your roller coaster sim game Xtwat!

  • xxAcesHighxx

    Great article Jonathan, couldn’t agree more!

    PSM brought us a(n admittedly small) handful of some of my favourite Vita games. The Likes of Flem, Rymdkapsel and Super Crate Box still pretty much see daily use on my Vita…

    But you’re right, the decline in quality software has been marked over the past year, and PSM’s demise was inevitable. I can only hope that some of the platforms better titles manage to make native Vita release via PSN.

    SHAME 🙁

  • PS Vita Roundup

    Can only hope they open up full PSN development (even if only a new tab) for smaller indies and experimental games…

  • Guest

    Poor dying $0N¥, lies and overhype that underdelivers all the way. Keep dying $0N¥ and take your retarded low IQ fanbase down to hell with you.

    • xxAcesHighxx

      Why do some forum users feel the need to be so utterly vile? I’ll never understand it. Tsk tsk.

    • chimpmeister

      Don’t bother replying to this troll, he’s too afraid to even leave his username up in his troll us posts. Just flag his garbage posts and move on.

    • DyingLight2K

      Hiding behind a guess account again, eh?
      Go back to your roller coaster sim game Xbot!
      dying Sony my a** fu**in’ idiot!

  • Jason Mounce

    Everytime I checked recent PSM games on my Vita, all there was, 90% of the time was garbage, it was random nobodies who made things that I’d easily label a scam, unfinished, broken work, descriptions that were vague or had massive spelling issues or just were clones of other games, especially flappy bird clones.

    It was a horrendous mess and a playground for too much abuse by people who kept trying to dump their garbage on it for a quick buck more than there were games that had great effort put into it. There’s better places, no one should be upset, people just gotta find out the clear and obvious best route that isn’t PSM.

  • an vuong

    Developers with good games are being offered help to put their games on native . While newbies like me with just some small casual games will no longer have chance to put our game on Vita … this is really sad for me

  • Freelance

    Sad to see it go, but once Sony made dev kits free to all, it soon became a dumping ground for really bad stuff. Not many people checked out PSM, or even knew it existed, and when all these bizarre/bad/whatever games came on, it probably ended up driving everyone else away. All the best PSM games (mostly) came out before that happened. I guess I’ll never be able to play that deer game now.

    • JonathanisPrimus

      I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to recycle the Unity for PSM SDK into a free Vita native version. Just employ standards tougher than “does it run?” to weed out the trash.