A Sony Hater’s Take on the PSP2

First, let me preface this by saying that despite the title (and the attached image), I am not actually a Sony hater. I am simply someone who prefers how the other Big Two companies do things. I don’t hate Sony, I just don’t appreciate them as much as Sony fans do. Some of their practices in the past have really pissed me off, but the PS3 has become a very stable and viable system, so it’s obvious they have made some good decisions lately. The “Sony hater” label seems to have come from the fact that I have been pretty verbal about some of Sony’s shit in the past. I’m looking at you, poorly-drawn-racial-stereotype-squirrel-wanting-to-bang-Daxter-PSP-ad-campaign. Oh, and you, PSP Go. And you, ATRAC.

So let’s go over what the PSP2, or NGP, has to offer.

The Name

Truthfully, I would not be surprised if the NGP moniker stuck, as it would enable Sony to move beyond the failed US-EU consumer confidence in the PSP label. Though every time I think of “NGP”, it somehow automatically brings to mind “MGD” since they sound so similar. Let’s face it Sony, there’s nothing good about Miller Genuine Draft.

Dual Analog Sticks

IT’S ABOUT FUCKING TIME, SONY. This, in my humble opinion, was one of the key reasons the PSP was such a relative failure. Developers couldn’t reconcile the demands of the modern gameplay landscape with the lack of the second analog, and were forced to improvise half-assed control schemes in order to accommodate. Gamers were just as baffled by the control oddities that ensued, and were only left frustrated by anything that really needed that second stick. As a result, many people, gamers and developers alike, simply gave up. At the risk of sounding like a Fox News correspondent, time will tell if the late addition of the second stick is too little, too late.

Touch Screen, Bigger Screen

Ah, Sony. Ever are you the purveyors of that which has already been done. Some might say that Sony excels in taking existing ideas and technology and molding them into a more perfect blend. Others would say Sony couldn’t come up with an original idea if that idea took the form of a metaphorical shark, swimming into their collective brains and frightening away all the tiny little fishy thoughts in the mindsea. They’d probably both be right.

As for the screen size, bigger is better, right? RIGHT?! The PSP2′s screen pushes it to a size hithertofore never seen by the likes of man in a portable gaming device. I’m all for big beautiful screens (though it could be better resolution, at that size), but there comes a point where the P that stands for ‘Portable’ is no longer applicable. I’m the proud owner of an iPad, and I love it, but let me tell you, that shit don’t fit in your pocket.

Multi-touch Rear-Facing Pads

You know what, I actually don’t have much to say that’s very negative about this. Oh, except for one thing. Don’t make them too sensitive, Sony. Those of us with hands of unusual size (H.O.U.S.es) can’t afford to have our Ratchets and Clanks jumping off cliffs just because we accidentally touched the back of the device we’re fucking holding in our fucking hands.

3G Support

I wholeheartedly support this, and hope that the 3DS sells a 3G-enabling device in the future. Caveat emptor, however; with any 3G ability comes a monthly contract. Parents and grandparents won’t be thinking about that shit when they’re planting gifts under the Christmas tree.

PS3-Quality Graphics

AAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I’ll believe that when I see it. Although… Sony didn’t give us a price point for this device yet. Hmmm. We’ll come back to this later.

No UMD

Some of the best decisions Sony has made as a company are when it gives up on failed proprietary technology. Usually this comes after a long slog of not giving a damn, and continually failing in its attempts to push their tech on an unwilling public. This time, Sony made the decision at the right point. Spinning up optical media on a portable device has sucked, continues to suck, and always will suck.

Games and Other Software

According to Sony and the devs they brought on stage, it’s very easy to port PS3 games to the PSP2. Anyone can see the good and bad in that. Good, because that means some of your favorite software on the go. Bad, because that’s what fucking happened to the PSP the last go-around. Almost all of the significant releases of the first couple years were ports of PS2 games, and very few PSP-exclusives. If devs come to rely on this PS3-porting cycle to print early release games at a minimum cost (which they will likely do because making any new game for a brand-new console is almost sure to cost a shitton of simoleons), very few consumers will give a damn about any games. Ooo look! I can play Uncharted 1 on the bus ride home! A Shadow the Hedgehog sequel? Oh my stars and garters! I do declare, I am feelin’ tha vapors comin’ upon mee!

Bottom line is this: franchises are good to have, but Sony’s going to need more than ports and poorly-financed bargain-bin liner to get this airship flying.

Near and LiveArea actually look really interesting and appealing, but I’m not certain I would pay for the 3G contract just to use them. Keep in mind the iPad’s contract is $50 a month. That’s the cost of a whole game each month. Stop and think for a second about how that’s going to impact software sales, digging into your consumers’ wallets substantially for what is essentially extra features.

Price Point and US Release Date

Two things that people really want to know, but haven’t been announced. Go back and re-read your news articles again, fanboys; Sony says it’ll be out for the holiday in Japan. They didn’t say anything about the US or the EU. More than likely, that puts the PSP2 a full year behind the 3DS in all markets. The handheld market is incredibly tough to break, much less go up against Nintendo, and while a headstart isn’t the sole defining factor in handheld success, it’s a significant factor, and Sony is giving up that hand.

As for the price, the fact that none was given probably means one of two things.

  1. It’s too early to determine what a viable price point would be to provide a decent balance between profitability and market tolerance.
  2. It’s not going to be pretty.

Or it could be both. I would think that if Sony had an inkling that it would be able to compete with the 3DS’ price, it would at least have given a range, to try and undercut them before either one gets out of the starting gate. But there was nothing, just omission of the fact everyone wanted at least some hint about. My personal guess is that given all of the beefy hardware that is undoubtedly needed for this, plus the fact that the PSP1 launched at $250 and the PS3 launched at $500… My guess is $350. I believe that Sony believes they can get away with it, provided they’re not losing money on hardware at that point. They may go higher if they need to offset the cost of two tiny-tiny quad-core processors.

The Bottom Line

…is meh. That’s right. Meh. It’s too early to tell at this point. Sony has a lot of pieces in play at the right places, but needs to consider all the angles and plays of its competitor. It needs to learn from the lessons of the past and take steps and investments to ensure it gets beyond the typical launch problems that plague every console launch. Let’s face it, Nintendo is fucking entrenched and will not give up its throne unless you are unquestionably superior. Are you unquestionably superior in the handheld market, Sony? Well? Are you?

  • http://padinga.com/members/mecha/ Mecha

    This article makes me sad. :(

  • http://padinga.com/members/rurouniq/ RurouniQ

    Because it is truth.com?

  • http://padinga.com/members/jenjen/ jenJEN

    Interesting. Personally I argue that hand held consoles in general are sad, half-assed versions of the real thing (the big boy pants consoles) and just another excuse for people to take their anti-social bubble with them when they wander outside of their homes. I fully admit to being a hypocrite because I do have an iPhone, but I still don’t have to like watching our society dive to hell because we can’t make real connections anymore. Bah…..no wonder I have trouble making friends now that I’ve graduated -we all have our heads down and hands typing away on our gadgets.

  • http://padinga.com/members/maul42/ Maul

    Yeah, we’ll see. This thing has been winning over techno-philes who’ve gotten to demo it, so far. Of course, it all comes down to the game library.
    If they get something that captures the fans, they can get the sales. Sony needs to find their Pokemon (and not a close of Pokemon, either) that makes them unique, and not a shiny, glossy, second place.