From Skylanders to Amiibo, "Toys to life" have been a pretty lucrative way for video game companies to make money. Sony has been more-or-less absent from the field, but today it's announcing something not too dissimilar: Project Field.
The company is showing off dedicated smart pads that pair with a phone or tablet to bring card games to life. Imagine a game like Hearthstone, for instance, but with physical cards that you buy in store. Or the physical and digital versions of Pokémon Trading Card Game fused together.
When a user places a card on one of the pads, it's identified using an NFC-like wireless technology. The pad then sends the card's exact position to the phone or tablet using Bluetooth. Once the card is in the game, the pad is able to detect movement -- if you slide a card to another position, for example. The cards will be both readable and writable, meaning in-game status changes can be saved. Depending on the game, players will also be able to "grow" a character, with stats stored on the card.
Sony announced Project Field today as part of a broader push to get PlayStation games onto mobile phones, and says it has "multiple" projects planned for the platform. The first title to be announced is based on Yokai Watch, the hugely popular Level-5 RPG.
This isn't a drastically new idea -- Sengoku Taisen, Kantai Collection and other Japanese arcade games already blend collectible cards with video games. Nintendo's Amiibo cards for Animal Crossing also have built-in NFC chips. Where Project Field differs is in portability, and potential reach. If the pads are sold at a reasonable rate, players will be able to get an arcade experience anywhere they can bring a tablet.
While Project Field is only slated for release in Japan, the worldwide appeal of Skylanders and Amiibo means an international release doesn't seem impossible.