There's no question that gaming on the Android platform has heretofore been relatively underwhelming, but that looks like it's all about to change. It seems that Sony Ericsson -- a company that has yet to even introduce an Android 2.0 device -- is at work on a project to redefine gaming on Google's mobile platform. We now know (via a trusted source) that the company is actively and heavily developing a brand new gaming platform, ecosystem, and device (possibly alongside Google) which are already in the late stages of planning. And we've got the goods on it.

Here's what we can tell you about the hardware: if you're a gaming fan, this is exactly the kind of phone you've been waiting for. The device is described as cross between the Samsung Captivate and the PSP Go -- in other words, it's a landscape slider with game controls in place of the typical QWERTY keyboard. The D-pad is here, but instead of the small joystick, the device will have what was described as a "long touch pad" for analog controls, along with standard PSP buttons and shoulder buttons. The phone has a large display, described as being between 3.7 and 4.1 inches with WVGA or better resolution, a 5 megapixel camera that we're told might not be final, and it'll likely have a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU on board. The phone is mostly black with some silver highlights, and the gamepad area is white / silver in color. Apparently it's currently branded as a Xperia device, but it looks like it will carry PlayStation branding as well. Those who've seen the phone say it looks "pretty damn sexy." The mockup above probably doesn't do the actual hardware justice, but it should give you an idea of what you'll be dealing with.

On the software side, it looks like the device will be running Gingerbread (Android 3.0) with a phone-specific skin, and there will be a new area of the Android Market specifically for the games. That content will be initially accessible only by the halo device, but from the sounds of things, these titles might be made available to other Android phones if their specs and button layouts meet requirements. Games will be graphically in the range of PSX or PSP games, meaning true 3D gaming is headed to Android. Titles currently being shown off seem to be focused around some older PSX as well as new PSP offerings, with God of War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and LittleBigPlanet possibly on tap, and future plans for titles which incorporate augmented reality features.

In terms of release, it's possible that the phone and ecosystem could be introduced as early as October of this year, but we have yet to confirm.

Right now we're working on getting even more detail about the phone and partnership, but we can tell you now that this is not a random rumor -- we have reason to believe that what we've heard and seen is real and coming to market. It makes perfect sense in a way -- Google gets a much-needed push into the gaming and entertainment space for Android, while Sony (via its partnership with Ericsson) finally delivers the PlayStation phone users have been wanting. We see it as a major win for both companies and the consumer... and we always need another distraction. Stay tuned to this space for updates as we get them, and in the meantime, start socking away the pennies.

Additional reporting by Chris Ziegler

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Exclusive: Sony Ericsson to introduce Android 3.0 gaming platform and PSP Go-like smartphone