PlayStation’s New Mobile Controller | Verizon Gets in the Xbox Business
Recon: Market News
PlayStation Partners for Licensed Mobile Controller
iPhone-compatible controller latest addition to growing PlayStation peripheral family
Sony is partnering with startup Backbone to create its first licensed iPhone mobile controller, the Backbone One-PlayStation Edition. It’s yet another concrete step in PlayStation steadily transitioning toward a platform-agnostic ecosystem that meets gamers where they are, even if it’s not on console.
A Familiar Friend
This edition of the Backbone One is largely unchanged. It’s got the PS5’s aesthetic without its more unique features, such as haptic triggers. The tweaks can be mostly found in the accompanying Backbone App’s new PlayStation integrations.
- $99 detachable game controller
- It should be functional with Android devices using a USB C-to-Lightning cable
- Backbone offers an non-PlayStation Android controller, but without an app so far
- Backbone+ App on iOS adds additional social features for $49 annually
Long Distance Relationship
PlayStation Remote Play, which allows gamers to play titles on non-console devices, has been around for 16 years, but it hasn’t gained much traction. This development might persuade more gamers to give it a shot now that they have a controller designed for gaming on-the-go.
- The device is also much-needed advertising for services Sony has struggled to educate consumers about
More importantly, it’s a logical product in the context of PlayStation’s revamped subscription options that promote its PlayStation Now gaming service (included with $17.99/month Premium subscription). The service is currently limited to PC and console, but mobile would be the next logical step.
A Growing Company
This is quite the achievement for Backbone, which was founded less than three years ago and raised a cool $40 million in February. As to what could be next, two words beginning with “A” spring to mind:
- Android: If the iPhone edition sells well, an Android PlayStation controller and Google Store App are a no-brainer
- Acquisition: Backbone would seem to be a logical target for Sony acquisition, given it appears serious about investing in PS5-adjacent peripherals such as gaming monitors and headsets.
- For Backbone, being fully incorporated into the Sony family could be valuable given its main competition is currently Razer’s Kishi
- Razer is bigger and has a more expansive product lineup it can use to leverage sales of niche devices like the Kishi and Backbone
Intel & Newegg’s Works-in-Progress
Intel lays out its GPU strategy & Newegg unveils new GPU portal
Verizon announced this week a partnership with Microsoft that will allow customers to purchase consoles through Xbox All Access bundles. While it’s unlikely to suddenly increase sales of still limited hardware stock, for Microsoft, it’s another way to push their subscription options.
Would You Like Some Game Pass With That?
Xbox All Access will let Verizon customers purchase an Xbox Series S ($299 MSRP) or Series X ($499 MSRP) and a 24-month subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($14.99/month). These bundles will set customers back $599 and $839, respectively, at least if they use Verizon’s buy now, pay later plan through affirm.
To make the sticker shock a little easier to swallow, Verizon is offering additional discounts at launch.
- 50% off $179 Xbox Elite controller
- $40 off Xbox Stereo headset with purchase of standard wireless controller ($59)
- 25% off Razer’s Xbox Wolverine V2 controller/Kaira headset bundle ($169)
For the mobile carrier, it’s not only another product it can sell, but a way to publicize its 5G network. To be blunt, however, if Verizon’s announcement video – which boasts some of the worst fake video game playing in recent memory – is any indication, they aren’t naturals when it comes to the gaming business.
Given Xbox console supply still hasn’t become “normal” yet, Verizon isn’t going to be a huge boost to sales. This will, however, serve as advertising for, and potentially an entry point to, Xbox’s subscription services. It will also be interesting to see whether or not families shopping at Verizon go for the more affordable and popular Series S or the more living room TV-appropriate, but expensive, Series X.
Supply Drop: Games & Players
Upcoming Games (July 29 – August 4)
Avenging Spirit – PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Digimon Survive – PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Frogun – PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
The Gallery – PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Hard West 2 – PC
Madison – Switch
Saints Row – PC, PlayStation, Xbox
South of the Circle – PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town – PlayStation
Turbo Golf Racing – PC, Xbox
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 – Switch
Most Anticipated: Over-the-top…again. Saint’s Row is the week’s most anticipated game, a reboot of the popular, and famously over-the-top video game series that begin in 2006. After the first two more grounded entries were largely casted off as copies of the hugely successful Grant Theft Auto franchise, the next three titles aimed to carve out their own space with a more zany, raunchy, and purposely silly style. The latest rendition appears to try and split the difference between the two styles, with early concerns about the reboot likely not being enough to keep fans entering the fray once more.
Comms: Social Campaigns
- MSI Gaming promotes #BetterTogether Challenge in conjunction with PC subreddit community PC Master Race (PCMR) on July 26 (FB)
- iBUYPOWER promotes #Reflexon campaign with tagline “Fames win Games” featuring Apex Legends gameplay on July 25 (FB, IG)
- Intel promotes #intelboost campaign with video of indie games from its Indie Showcase Best of 2022 on July 25 (FB, IG)
The Tap: News to Go
- VR Gaming: Meta’s Quest 2 headset will receive a $100 price increase in August (128GB: $399, 256GB: $499), with the company citing rising production costs. Meta is also quietly adjusting its content policies to allow mature content in its Horizon Worlds game.
- Graphics Cards: AMD’s latest GPU patch includes AMD Noise Suppression, which reduces background noise using deep learning. It’s the Red Team’s belated response to Nvidia’s RTX Voice feature, which launched in 2020.
- Game Subscriptions: Netflix’s recent hires suggest that the media streaming giant could be pivoting to live service, multiplayer titles. Its game releases to date have largely been smaller indie titles with limited replayability.
- Consoles: Sony is testing 1440p monitor support for the PlayStation 5. This feature, which the Xbox Series X has had since launch, is another attempt from Sony to appeal to PC gamers or more competitive gamers. 1440p is the second most popular resolution on PC, according to the latest Steam Hardware Survey.