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Bill Loguidice's picture

Sony's PSP2, aka NGP - Doomed from the Start? (and a quick mention of Sony Ericsson Xperia Play)

Sony officially announced their PSP successor, code-named Next Generation Portable (NGP). Details here. As you can see, its main technical features of note are a high resolution 5" inch OLED touch screen on the front, a multi-touch pad on the back, two analog sticks, and two cameras. It also has six-axis motion sensing system similar to the PS3's controller and a three-axis electronic compass. Typical for Sony, it's another "kitchen sink" handheld, with the only notable omission being 3D, a la the Nintendo 3DS. Unlike the 3DS - and even though I'm a long-time owner of the original PSP - I'm finding little to be excited about with Sony's new handheld. The PSP failed - relatively speaking, of course - because it did nothing to distinguish itself as a portable. Sony's strategy was to offer a portable console, which many people have no interest in. There appears to be a similar strategy with the NGP. The PSP was somewhere in-between the PS1 and PS2 in terms of power, the NGP is somewhere in-between a PS2 and PS3 in terms of power. If you look at the software list from the link, it's the same types of titles you get on the PS3. While there will be the usual augmented reality and sharing features (again, just like the Nintendo 3DS), the idea of a dedicated portable like this in today's world of smartphones and tablets seems a bit counter-intuitive, and it doesn't have the 3D angle Nintendo's 3DS features. As such, I'm skeptical of the NGP's success.

Rather further under the radar is the announcement of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, an Android phone that appears to offer PSP-like gaming and some ability to run the same type of software (albeit of the lowest common denominator variety, potentially taking some of the bloom off of owning the superior gaming platform if developers target both). This strategy makes somewhat more sense in that consumer energy is really behind smartphones these days, but to my mind Sony should have done the Xperia Play AND made the PSP2 a 7" Honeycomb tablet with the full complement of gaming controls and beefed up hardware. This way they could also sub-license to Android and Honeycomb vendors "PSP-powered" gaming technology. That to me would have made a far greater impact. As it is, I think Sony is not going to make much of a dent with the Xperia Play because Android-powered smartphones (technology-wise) are a fast moving target (and phones tend to get replaced every two years anyway), and the NGP - no matter how inherently cool - is not a distinctive enough technology to pull enough people away from the 3DS and their existing (or future) smartphones and tablets, the latter two of which already make formidable modern day gaming platforms. Sorry, Sony.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Sony Continues to Bungle the PSP Line - Flips the Proverbial Bird to US Customers

In an effort to goose sales of the PSPgo - which any way you look at it, has been an abject failure for Sony, even regularly placing last in weekly sales in Japan (yes, even behind the Xbox 360 and PS2) - Sony has taken positive steps by lowering prices on a batch of top titles and offering free games for new purchasers of the system. But hold on a minute, in a stroke of corporate bravado the likes of which we haven't seen since the news first broke on the BP oil spill, Sony is only offering new purchasers of the system in the US just three free games only days after offering UK buyers 10 free games. See anything wrong with that math?

Of course, none of this addresses the more serious issue of a justification for the PSPgo's existence in the first place, since it's more expensive than the regular PSP model with fewer features. However, I know I would have been more likely to purchase one with an incentive for 10 free games, along with the reduction on the other top hits. As it stands now, because of their unbalanced generosity towards one territory over another, it all remains too much to swallow. Way to go Sony! Maybe you'll get it right with the PSP2, unless Nintendo and Apple obliterate you in the marketplace first with their next generation of handhelds that will release earlier and almost certainly with better software support and marketing. Maybe by then you can give UK buyers 20 free games and US buyers 6 free games to really push your sales over the top and continue to foster good will for your brand...

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