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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sony PSP2 Wishlist (E3 2010)

Earlier this week, I mentioned that I was in the market for a PSP. I've given portable gaming a shot in the past with both the Nintendo DS and the PSP-1000. Neither solution worked for me.

The biggest complaint that I had about the Nintendo DS was the lack of games. At that time, I don't think that there were more than 3-4 games on the DS per device that I was willing to play. And with many of those games priced at $30 and above, I didn't see any reason to keep my DS. Even today, there are so few games that I'd be willing to buy. I liked Elite Beat Agents but everything else seemed dumbed down and ugly. I guess I'm just not a fan of Nintendo after the NES era.

As for my PSP, I was probably a little too hasty in getting rid of it. I really liked Lumines II and there were some other games coming out for the PSP that I would now like to try. I think I got rid of my PSP just before the games started getting good. The DS may outsell the PSP but the latter device is a much better all-round portable entertainment device. I really should have kept my PSP. This is a mistake I plan to correct sooner rather than later. Of course, my plans depend on Sony's latest PSP news at this year's E3.

There are rumours flying around about the PSP2. I would definitely fork out $300 for a new PSP device. However, I have a list of demands that I would like Sony to address:

  • Portability:
    The new PSP2 would have to be small enough to fit in my pocket. The pause and resume function from the PSP Go would need to included in the new device. I'm a busy man and I need to be able to stop and start games at the drop of a hat.

  • Battery Life:
    I don't care if the PSP2 has a battery life of 2-4 hours. Just give me the option of swapping batteries on the fly.

  • Digital Download:
    I like the Digital Download model for games. I hate having to carry around game discs while I'm out. However, new game prices have to drop. I think $30 for brand new title is fair with older titles priced in the $5-$20 range. If this means that Sony needs to pass on a few more bucks to publishers per sale of a game then so be it. Used game sales hurt everyone in the game business - even gamers (unless you enjoy padding EB/GameStop's pockets to save $5 on a game).

  • PS2 Classics:
    Am I the only person thinking that Sony will announce PS2 Classics for the Playstation Store? Could Sony have removed backwards compatibility on the PS3 in preparation for downloadable PS2 games? And, if that's the case, wouldn't it be nice if PS2 games could be played on the PSP2? The thought of playing old school RPGs and old Sly Cooper games on a portable gaming device gets me pretty damned excited. I would gladly spend $300 or more on a PSP2 if I could play the entire PS2 library during my daily commute! There might be some backlash against Sony if PS2 Classics are introduced instead of backwards-compatibility. My advice would be to offer a hefty discount to gamers attempting to purchase digital versions of games already owned on physical media.

  • Scrap UMD:
    I think Sony needs to scrap the UMD format. To do so, it must offer all existing UMD owners compensation in the form of free games or digital download replacement copies of popular UMD titles. But this needs to be done. A digital download model of gaming will not work as long as the used game market continues to feed off the trading of UMD game discs. At the very least, publishers should be given stronger incentives to produce digital-only copies of games.

  • Second Analog Stick:
    I love my DualShock 2 and 3 controllers. And I would love the PSP2 to get as close as possible to replicating that feel on its new device. Two sticks, directional pad, 4 buttons, and 4 shoulder buttons: is that too much to ask for?

  • Backwards Compatibility:
    It goes without saying that the PSP2 must be able to play PSP games. If that's not the case, PSP2 will fail...unless no future PSP games are due for release. However, the backlash against Sony for missing backwards compatibility would make the PS2/PS3 fiasco look like a sorority house pillow fight.

  • Device Support:
    If Sony wants the PSP2 to become the new brand name in portable entertainment, they will have to get behind their product. The PSP Go is proof that Sony must do more to promote and sell its new device. PSP 1000, 2000, and 3000 series owners are very good at scaring off potential PSP Go customers: will PSP2 consumers cave to similar peer pressure and "expert" advice?

    Sony has to create a buzz for the PSP2 and offer a realistic alternative to first-gen PSPs. Portability and sleek design are not enough to sell a $250 device: perceived value and anticipated operating costs are very important.

    Take the PSP vs. PSP Go. The PSP Go is more portable, has a smaller screen, and offers users the ability to pause and resume games with the push of a button. The older PSPs are bulky but offer bigger screens and an extensive UMD game and movie library. The UMD games give older PSP devices an edge thanks to the used games market. Older PSPs are cheaper in the long run and have a much higher perceived value to most PSP owners looking only to play games.

    Sony will have to do something to make the PSP2 the next true successor in the PSP product line. First and foremost, Sony needs to stand behind its new platform, promote it as the next coming in portable entertainment, and offer some top-notch post-retail support.

In all honesty, I think Sony would make a killing with the PSP2 if they added a second analog stick to the device and offered discounted digital-only downloadable PSP, PS1, and PS2 titles in the Playstation Store. I'd recommend going so far as offering discounts to current PS2 game and console owners to help convert PS2 devotees to a new age in gaming. If Sony can manage these changes, the PSP2 could outsell the PS3 and Xbox 360 combined without the risk of lost revenue to the used games market.

With my wish list and hopelessly-optimistic forecast down on paper, I'm sure to be sorely disappointed when Sony's unveils the PSP2 at E3 2010. I imagine the following press release in my deepest, darkest nightmares:

Los Angeles, June 16, 2010 (E3): Sony unveiled its new Playstation Portable 2 (PSP2) at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) earlier today. Sony executives are excited to announce that Sony's newest portable gaming system will "[combine] the commuter-friendly design of the successful PSP Go with the popular Universal Media Disc (UMD) drive and the latest in portable 3D gaming technology.".

The Playstation Portable 2 will be released Fall 2010 in Japan and January 2011 in North America and Europe. Suggested retail pricing has not been established though sources anticipate a $249.99 MSRP.

I hope I didn't jinx us all by writing that...