3G in the PSP2, Perhaps

By  |  Monday, January 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Last July, Japanese wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo talked up its ambitions to embed 3G capabilities in video game consoles. Now, it looks like the company has found a taker in Sony’s PSP2, according to a report in Nikkei (via CNet).

The next Playstation Portable, which hasn’t officially been announced yet (the image here is a mock-up), won’t be a phone, says the report, but it will let people download content and play online. Sony is holding a press conference in Tokyo this Thursday, where the company is likely to reveal the PSP2 in full.

If Nikkei’s report is accurate, I remain skeptical about seeing a 3G PSP2 in the United States. Data plans here, for the most part, are still administered per device, rather than per user, and I don’t think a lot of people are willing to tack on a data plan just to play video games outside the house.

It’s possible that Sony could make a deal with a wireless carrier to include a certain amount of data per month, in the same way that Verizon will give away 100 MB per month with Chrome OS notebooks when they go on sale later this year. But that amount of data wouldn’t go very far with a game console. Most of my PSP Minis take up roughly 20 MB, leaving room for only a handful of downloads and maybe a couple hours of online play.

One other potential scenario: Carriers could bundle Wi-Fi hotspots with the PSP2, offering a discounted data rate in exchange for more money up front. This is what Verizon currently does for the iPad, and it’s plausible for game consoles because it would allow the user to connect other devices.

But as for full-blown mobile broadband in a gaming console, I don’t think we’ll see it stateside until the rumored¬†Playstation Phone, which may be announced at Mobile World Congress in February.

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