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Xperia Owners Paying for Games on Phones, Sony Ericsson Says

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Smartphone Entices Users Buy Games
The Xperia Play phone has controllers and games previously only available on consoles. Photographer: Denis Doyle/Bloomberg

More than 75 percent of people who download games on the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play smartphone are paying for them, as the second-largest Europe-based handset maker targets a market that may reach $12.7 billion by 2015.

“It’s reversing a trend of a majority not paying for games” in other application stores for mobile phones, Dominic Neil-Dwyer, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB’s head of market development, said today in an interview at the Gamescom conference in Cologne, Germany.

The mobile-phone venture of Ericsson AB and Sony Corp. is among companies betting that hardcore mobile gamers could push sales of smartphones and mobile apps even higher. The Xperia Play, which puts a slideout PlayStation keyboard on an Android smartphone, was introduced last quarter at carriers including Verizon Wireless. Others targeting gamers include Microsoft Corp., which is adding Xbox features to its Windows Phone 7 software, including the ability to bring player identities and scores from play sessions on personal computers and televisions.

The Xperia Play has 150 game titles, some previously only available on consoles. Sony Ericsson-recommended games are free or cost from 69 pence ($1.14) to 6.05 pounds and include titles from Electronic Arts Inc., the world’s second-largest maker of games, and GameLoft, Europe’s biggest maker of mobile-phone games.

Market Share

Sony Ericsson said it had about 11 percent of the market for phones running Google Inc.’s Android software in the second quarter. It had a loss last quarter as sales of midrange feature phones declined and the Japanese earthquake cut shipments. Its rivals include Samsung Electronics Co., HTC Corp., and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., which Google this week agreed to buy for $12.5 billion.

This year is the first that mobile-phone makers including Sony Ericsson and LG Electronics Inc. are attending Gamescom, the world’s largest video-games fair. Sony Ericsson is demonstrating “Reckless Getaway,” a new car-chase title produced by Polarbit.

Global revenue from games for smartphones and tablets will grow from $7.53 billion last year to $12.7 billion in 2015, while sales of console games will rise from $28.1 billion to $34.8 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

This week, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. announced a new version of its portable handheld games player PSP for 99 euros ($142) in Europe. The current model costs 169 euros. Nintendo Co. last month slashed the price of its 3DS portable console by as much as 40 percent.

Microsoft, which boosted sales of its Xbox console after introducing the movement detection sensor Kinect last year, is also adding voice control that can work both in games and in the Bing search engine on the console this Christmas.

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