Sony Interactive Entertainment president Andrew House doesn’t believe that there’s a huge market opportunity for handheld gaming. He also confirmed that Sony doesn’t have any plans on making a competitor to the Nintendo Switch.

“The Nintendo device is a hybrid device and that’s a different approach and strategy,” House told Bloomberg during last week’s Tokyo Game Show. “We have not seen that as being a huge market opportunity.”

House says that Sony is currently focusing on more products and services for the living room, which also includes its efforts in virtual reality. Sony is also focusing on its non-gaming businesses such as music and entertainment since the company already sees the PlayStation 4 console as a key digital entertainment hub.

The last time Sony released a handheld gaming device was back in 2011 with the PlayStation Vita. Since then, the company hasn’t released a successor to the device. There hasn’t been a major exclusive title that’s been released for the device, nor has it even seen huge success in the western market. Rolling Stone's Glixel estimates that there are only 15 million PS Vita that have been sold worldwide. There are still new games being developed for the Vita, but most of them are exclusives to Japan.

The Vita was a disappointment to say the least, but the same can’t be said for its 2005 predecessor, the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The PSP was discontinued in 2014, but by then, Sony had already sold over 80 million PSP units worldwide. Since then, portable handheld gaming devices have been on a steady decline. This is due to smartphones becoming increasingly more powerful and more convenient for users who wanted a handheld gaming experience.

“The Vita experience was that outside of Japan and Asia, there was not a huge demand,” House said. “The lifestyle shift toward the dominance of smartphones as the single key device that is always with you, was the determining factor.”

House isn’t wrong. Smartphones are becoming more powerful and are slowly becoming more and more like a portable gaming platform on its own. This may also be the reason why Sony established its own mobile game studio last year called ForwardWorks.

Back in December 2016, Sony confirmed that ForwardWorks was working on 10 mobiles games, with up to six of them being released in 2017. ForwardWorks mostly makes mobile games that are based on Sony’s IPs, but the studio is also collaborating with the likes of Square Enix and Compile Heart.

Although Sony is now shifting to mobile games for smartphones rather than games on a portable devices, Nintendo has proven that there’s still room for handheld gaming. The Nintendo Switch has been successful so far and Nintendo is already worried about supplies for the upcoming holiday season due to the high demand. It’s possible that this is merely the effects of the hype surrounding the Nintendo Switch, but the console still needs to prove that it can keep its momentum going.

House says that the success of the Nintendo Switch hasn’t really shown signs of having an impact on Sony’s sales of content or hardware. “That draws me to the conclusion that they’ve really been additive to the business in the last year or so,” House said.

“The folks at Nintendo have their strategy and that’s great. We remain focused around a highly connected gaming experience and also coupled with having a great range of other entertainment experiences so you can reach multiple people on the big screen in the household.”

PlayStation Vita
Sony isn't interested in making a PS Vita successor, nor is it interested in making a Nintendo Switch competitor. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon