Sony regards Pokémon Go as a "game changer," according to CEO Kaz Hirai, who has suggested that augmented reality will be a core part of the company's activities in mobile from now on.
Speaking to The Financial Times at the IFA consumer electronics expo, Hirai enthused about the potential for AR to "lift all boats" in the games industry. Since the success of Pokémon Go, he said, Sony is looking at adding AR functionality to its mobile games.
"Pokémon Go is a real game-changer," Hirai said. "I'm very interested in the fact that it has the potential to really change the way people move, literally."
Sony Computer Entertainment established a wholly owned subsidiary dedicated to mobile games in May this year, only two months before the success of Pokémon Go surprised the entire industry. Within a few weeks, Niantic's game was being touted as the most popular ever mobile launch in the United States.
Significantly, the knock-on effect of that surge in popularity pushed Nintendo's market cap past Sony's, which no doubt caught Hirai's attention. However, our own Rob Fahey warned against the wisdom of following in Pokémon Go's wake, saying, "I can think of no other franchise that would fit the Pokémon Go model' well enough to make for an appealing game."
Sony's subsidiary, ForwardWorks, is the tip of the spear for Sony, with Hirai noting that, "[mobile gaming] is something we are aggressively getting into... It's quite a shift from being just a console-based business to being on mobile phones as well." ForwardWorks will create games based on Sony's IP, initially focusing on the mobile markets in Japan, China and South Korea.
"Mobile gaming is a very important part of the Japanese market and therefore we've created a wholly-owned subsidiary that's completely dedicated to mobile gaming. They'll be coming out with titles."