Tag Archives | PSP

Synergy! PSP Minis on Your PS3

Sony’s PSP may be threatened by the iPhone and woefully behind the Nintendo DS in sales, but it’s the only handheld gaming device that has a console big brother and genuinely plays nicely with it, letting you stream movies and original Playstation games from the Playstation 3. That bond will strengthen later this month, when Sony brings PSP Minis to the PS3.

PSP Minis are a collection of cheap, small-scale games that debuted for the handheld in October. Many are ports of existing iPhone games, but unfortunately they’re more expensive, partly because they require an ESRB rating. Come December 17, an optional PS3 firmware update will turn on the emulator for PSP Minis, letting users play the games on both devices for no extra cost.

Sony’s way ahead of the curve on this idea, not only trumping Apple and Nintendo, but Microsoft as well. Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has talked about the “three screens” of PC, mobile and television, but so far that vision hasn’t applied to gaming. Yes, you can purchase movies through the Zune Marketplace and watch them on either device, but the ZuneHD’s entry into gaming has been rather timid with just a handful of Microsoft-made, ad-supported games, and no talk of support on the Xbox 360. Earlier this year, it was rumored that Microsoft would release a gaming handheld that could transfer games from the Xbox 360, but that report hasn’t panned out.

I’ve come down hard on Sony in the past — the company is content to ignore the iPhone as it hovers in the PSP’s blind spot — but treating the PSP and PS3 as siblings in more than just branding is a good idea. More of this, please.

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Sony Stumbles With Blu-ray to PSP Copy

blu-ray-logo-thumb-200x200Starting in November, Sony will revert to its old, closed-system ways by packing a PSP-ready digital copy on its Blu-ray discs.

The reasoning is obvious: If you’re an owner of one device, you’ve got a reason to pick up the other. Why buy an iPod for video when the PSP gives you a chunk of your Blu-ray collection in digital form?

Here’s the problem: Of the two Blu-ray films that Sony Pictures will launch with a PSP-ready copy, only one will include a separate digital copy on DVD, playable on your PC, according to Home Media Magazine. So while Sony is offering the full range of choices for people who buy The Ugly Truth, those who purchase Godzilla won’t get a digital copy unless they have both a Playstation 3 and a PSP.

Sony calls this a “multi-platform” solution, but the only platforms being supported are Sony’s. To me, that seems like a backwards step for the company, which in May was professing its newfound love for open systems. Here’s what Sony chief executive Howard Stringer told Nikkei Electronics Asia in an interview:

“There was a time when it made sense to divide the market with closed technology, and monopolize a divided market, but that’s just not an effective strategy any more. In the Internet universe, there are millions of stars – millions of options that have been created through open technology.”

Indeed, Sony is turning a new leaf in some ways, such as its support for the open ePub format in its e-readers. But the Blu-ray promotion sends a mixed message: We want our hardware to support lots of media, but our media will only work with our hardware.

For perspective, see how Disney’s digital copies are available as a download in either Windows Media or iTunes format, whatever the customer chooses. I’m not sure that Sony could offer those proprietary formats through its competing Playstation Network, but by removing PC-ready digital copies, the company is headed down the wrong path.


Apple: Hey Sony, Nintendo, Bring It

iphonepspdsMan, we’re getting so close to having Apple as a real contender in the handheld game console wars, I can feel it.

As Gamespot points out, Apple’s music-themed event marked the first time that the company publicly argued why the iPhone and iPod Touch are better gaming options than Sony’s PSP and the Nintendo DS. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, went so far as to say those other two consoles are “not a lot of fun.”

Now, we can debate ad nauseum the merits of iPhone and iPod Touch gaming vs. the PSP and the DS. We can argue which device is the most successful, has the best games or has the greatest chance of survival. But that’s boring. What’s really great about the console wars is all the bickering and spin that goes along with it. In that regard, Apple showed that it’s ready to play hardball.

At yesterday’s event, one of Apple’s slides touted a catalog of 21,178 “Games & Entertainment Titles,” compared to 3,680 DS games and 607 PSP titles. Of course, it’s totally bogus for Apple to include “Entertainment” in the mix, as we’re strictly comparing gaming devices here. A quick check of Apptism shows 14,657 games on file.

If Apple’s still ahead, why fudge the stats? Because that’s what you do in the console wars. I’m reminded of when Sony argued last January that it’s a better value than the Xbox 360, assuming that you bought the basic Xbox 360 Arcade, then purchased the most expensive hard drive available and threw in an optional Wi-Fi adapter. Sure, the argument is valid, but the math is fuzzy.

And then, there’s all the trash talk. Back in February, I looked on with delight at the way Microsoft and Sony were sniping at each other. Yesterday, Schiller argued that “once you play a game on the iPod touch, you think ‘hey, [the DS and PSP] aren’t so cool any more…'” Burn!

Sony and Nintendo haven’t fired back yet (in fact, Sony’s been unbelievably timid on the matter), but if Apple keeps up this rhetoric, it’s only a matter of time until the sparks fly. I can’t wait to watch.


Okay, Sony, Now You’re Definitely Competing With the iPhone

gtaRemember in March, when Sony Senior Marketing Vice President Peter Dille dismissed the iPhone? “The iPhone games and apps are largely diversionary, whereas we’re a gaming company and we make games for people who want to carry a gaming device and play a game that offers a satisfying 20+ hours of gameplay,” he said in an interview with GameDaily.

I’d love to hear what Dille thinks now that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is coming to the iPhone. The game, originally released for Nintendo DS in March, was announced for Sony’s PSP in June and will arrive on October 20. The iPhone version is scheduled for release some time this fall, 1UP reports.

This is the inverse of Sony’s recent announcement of PSP Minis, a set of small-scale, inexpensive games targeted at the upcoming PSP Go. While that move represented an attack on the iPhone’s cheap gaming marketplace (though Sony wouldn’t admit it), GTA’s migration to the iPhone is a counter-assault on the PSP’s 20-hour experience.

The announcement partly suggests that game developers and publishers are getting confident in the iPhone as a serious gaming platform. More importantly, if the iPhone version of GTA proves equal to its PSP and Nintendo DS counterparts, it opens the door for more ports of dedicated handheld console games.

I’m not simply talking about a paring down of big franchise games, such as Assassin’s Creed and Metal Gear Solid, because that’s already happening. What I’m wondering is, how long will it be before the same handheld video game is simultaneously announced and released for Nintendo DS, PSP and iPhone?

And if that happens, how long will it be before Sony finally acknowledges that there’s a third enemy in its midst?