lowbrowculture

collects stories and ideas from John Kelly

PlayStation Portable

Note: This was originally posted in my Livejournal, but should probably appear here as well

A lot has been said about the new Sony PSP since the launch was announced yesterday. So I thought I’d throw my own hat into the ring here.

I’m thrilled to hear the final launch specs of the PSP. Sony have been pushing grown-up gaming since they entered the videogame market with the PlayStation. And they seem to have a firm understanding of what adults want from videogames. Compare this to Nintendo, whose new DS reeks of “Well, uh.. we’ve got a successful platform in the Gameboy Advance.. let’s add another screen! And make it a touch screen! Who wouldn’t want one of them? And uh.. uh.. ah, we’ll just figure it out as we go along”. [In fact, it would seem this feature was added purely to give Nintendo something to use as the cornerstone of their new ‘adult’ marketing campaign - “touching is good” (which, quite frankly, is a little embarassing)].

Adults want:

  • Something Pretty The PSP is an incredibly pretty piece of consumer technology. It’s small, has sleek lines and stands out from all other handhelds on the market (although sometimes smacks of the Atari Lynx, depending on the light). Sony demonstrated the kind of peerage they’re placing the PSP with in their decision to provide white headphones with the PSP.
  • Something Functional The PSP will be able to play games, music, and videos, as well as connect to wireless networks (whether you’ll be able to browse the internet or collect email from it remains to be seen). On the music side, they had originally planned not to support .mp3 in favour of their own proprietary ATRAC3 format, but finally gave in to consumer pressure.
  • Something Entertaining Sony aren’t taking any chances and have encouraged developers to port their biggest-selling Playstation games to the PSP. Within the first year, we will have titles from the following series on the PSP:
    • Burnout
    • Bust-a-move
    • Dynasty Warriors
    • Formula 1
    • Gran Turismo
    • Metal Gear Solid
    • Ridge Racer
    • Tony Hawk Underground 2
    • Wipeout

Each of these will be of a quality roughly equivalent to their PS2 counterparts.

On a personal level, I’m looking forward to the PSP for two reasons.

First is the wireless connectivity. There was some debate as to whether or not this would make it into the final specs of the machine, and I’m glad to see it has. This means that content can be downloaded directly to the machine, as we’re beginning to see with XBox Live. It also provides the means for true opportunistic gaming. For example, say I’m playing with a PSP on a bus, and I see that someone else is also playing with a PSP, we can instantly join our games and play against each other. A beautifully simple idea that, if you’ll excuse the gushing hyperbole, could revolutionise the way the general public views multi-player games*.

The second reason I’m looking forward to the PSP stems from my sense of self-preservation. I live in a house of non-gamers who, I feel, sometimes resent my occasional gaming and accompanying misappropriation of the TV. There was once a threat that my XBox could go out the window if I didn’t turn it off. A PSP could be the answer to this, or at least a happy medium - a non-intrusive way for me to play games without having to lock myself away in my room.

Right now, the Japanese launch price is 20,790 yen (approximately EUR150). MCV are reporting that the European launch price could be around the EUR300 mark.

Yes, I know the n-gage already has wireless gaming just like the PSP is proposing, but I have yet to meet one person who will even admit to wanting an n-gage, let alone meet someone who actually owns one. Compare this to everyone I’ve spoken to saying how they’re lusting after a PSP