Tag Archives | Sony PSP

Sony’s Bringing PSP Games to the PS3

Finally, some good news out of Sony. The company announced that it’s going to remaster PSP games for the Playstation 3, with high-definition graphics, new content and possibly 3D support.

Best of all, the players’ progress in a game will be transferable between either platform, so you can pick up on the PS3 where you left off on the PSP, and vice versa. Japan will get the first PSP remaster with Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, a hugely-popular game in that country. It’s not clear what other games or regions are in the works, but hopefully the E3 trade show in June will bring some clarity.

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Sony Slashes PSP Price to $130

We have no idea at what point this year Sony will ship its next-generation portable game console, or NGP, but the PSP is already looking stale.

That might explain why Sony is cutting the PSP’s price from $170 to $130 on February 27. Sony’s also dropping the price of PSP Entertainment Packs, which include a game, a memory stick and a unique hardware color scheme, to $150. A bunch of new “Greatest Hits” games will sell for $20, including Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and LittleBigPlanet.

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The PSP2 Comes Into Focus

Sony is kind of, sort of confirming the existence of the PSP2, the follow-up to its beleaguered handheld game console.

Kazuo Hirai, Sony’s gaming chief, was “coy” about specifics when speaking to the New York Times, but he did offer a few big-picture ideas for the device, and at the very least confirmed that Sony’s working on something. In fact, Hirai said Sony starting plotting a successor to the PSP since the day the first handheld was released.

So what’s in store for the next PSP? Some combination of buttons, analog sticks and touch-screen controls, Hirai said. Rumors suggest that the device will have a rear track pad (pictured), but it’s hard to tell from Hirai’s comments whether that will pan out. “Depending on the game, there are ones where you can play perfectly well with a touch panel,” he said. “But you can definitely play immersive games better with physical buttons and pads.”

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Sony Attacks PSP Pirates, Hurts Used Game Owners

Sony’s PSP has a piracy problem. The company has complained about it, game developers fret over it and the download-only PSP Go exists partly because of it. But Sony’s newest scheme to prevent PSP piracy takes things too far, punishing players who’ve done nothing wrong.

IGN reports that SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3, out this week, won’t play online without a voucher code that’s included with the game. If you buy the game used, you’ll need another voucher, which costs $20 on its own. I also wonder whether people whose PSPs are lost or stolen will have to pay another $20 to restore SOCOM’s online play.

The game costs $40 new, so until the used version costs half that, you won’t save any money on a used copy if you intend to play online. GameStop currently lists used copies of SOCOM 3 at $33, so it doesn’t seem that the extra expense for multiplayer is driving down used prices.

What Sony is doing isn’t novel. Electronic Arts chief executive John Riccitiello is fond of saying he views illegal downloads as potential sales, in that people may decide they like the game enough to purchase some downloadable content. Sony’s approach is more sinister, effectively withholding a portion of the game from people who are technically paying for the whole thing.

I’m no pirate, which is why it pains me to see legitimate buyers become collateral damage in the piracy war. Sony’s director of hardware marketing, John Koller, won’t say whether the company will use this anti-piracy tactic in other games. It’s a trial run, he told IGN. Hopefully, the experiment is short-lived.


A Modest Proposal for Sony’s PSP, and the Marketing Thereof

Nintendo and Sony reacted predictably to the iPad’s debut last week — that is, they blew it off.

Sony’s comments, in particular, deserve scrutiny, because PSP sales fell further last year than any other console. It’s harder to find fault with Nintendo’s remarks when the Nintendo DS continues to outsell every gaming machine on the market. John Koller, Sony Computer Entertainment’s director of hardware marketing, said Apple’s gaming presence has been “a net positive” for Sony. “When people want a deeper, richer console, they start playing on a PSP,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Sony’s been saying this for a while. The company believes that the PSP offers deep gaming experiences while the iPhone is shallow. That is increasingly less true as games like Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars end up on Apple’s devices. Besides, ignoring consumers who liken portable games to snacks isn’t wise. That’s probably why Sony introduced PSP Minis, a downloadable catalog of cheap, small-scale games, albeit more expensive than the same games on the iPhone.

So here’s what I propose: Instead of trying to position the PSP as the major leagues to the iPhone’s farm team, Sony should exploit the one real advantage it has. I’m talking about buttons.

We’re entering an age where buttons are marginalized. The Wii threw out many of them. Nintendo DS games often focus on the touch screen. Microsoft’s Project Natal will do away with buttons entirely. Play any console game that’s been ported to the iPhone, and you’ll miss the D-Pad’s tactile feedback. Someone’s got to stand up against the erosion of gaming’s most time-honored tradition.

It might as well be Sony, whose PSP is blissfully set in its ways. Mr. Koller, I propose that you ditch the silly marketing jargon and say something that gamers really understand: “Button mashers, welcome home.”


Sony’s PSP Go is Go


Sony’s new $250 PSP Go gaming handheld debuts today. With its slide-out control pad, it’s the first PSP that’s truly pocketable (closed, it looks and feels a little like a BlackBerry Storm). It’s also dumped the tiny UMD optical disc drive of early PSP models, making it the first digital gaming portable from Sony or anyone else. It’s got 16GB of built-in memory for games, movies, and music, plus an M2 Micro slot (yes, another proprietary Sony format) for additional storage. Simultaneous with its release, Sony is introducing PSP Minis–cheaper, simpler, more casual games not unlike much of the stuff on Apple’s App Store. In short, it’s still a PSP, but one which reflects some of the trends in pocket-sized devices set off by the iPhone and ipod Touch.

I got a little hands-on time with a PSP Go earlier this week (there it is in the photo hanging out with my iPhone). Sony has a hundred games ready for launch, but the PSP isn’t a full-blown platform for third-party apps of all sorts. Still, it’s a pretty versatile device for a handheld gaming console: It provides access to movie and music downloads and even comes with Skype preinstalled.

Even though the PSP Go makes no pretenses to be a direct competitor to the iPhone and iPod Touch, it’s impossible–for me, at least–to think about it without thinking about how it compares. It remains gaming-centric (even though almost all of Apple’s marketing for the iPod Touch plays up games, it’s really a general-purpose computing device). And its single biggest asset is probably that it has the luxury of being designed to play games well, with a full complement of traditional gamepad buttons and an analog joystick.

Apple’s a company who only grudgingly puts even a single button on its handhelds, so it’s never going to pack a device with special-purpose controls in the way Sony has done. And as good as the best games for the iPhone/Touch are, there are plenty of titles–ones as mundane as Ms. Pac-Man–for which touch is not the most satisfactory means of input.

Apple certainly sees the PSP (and Nintendo DS) as competing with the Touch: As my colleague Jared Newman pointed out, Phil Schiller spent a sizable portion of the company’s recent music-themed event snarking at Sony and Nintendo for everything from the size of their libraries to the cost of their games. On a higher level, we’re going to see a battle play out between specialized devices like the PSP Go and Swiss Army Knives like the iPod Touch. It’s going to be fun to watch–and even though the PSP Go’s improvements are all evolutionary, they help to gird Sony for the war.


PSP Go is Real, PS3 Price Cut is … No Go!

press-sony-psp-go-1First, the bad news: Sony’s Playstation 3 will continue to sell for $399.

Next, the sort of bad news: the PSP Go, a smaller, lighter handheld dubbed “the worst-kept secret of E3″ by Sony’s Kaz Hirai, will cost $249 — far more than a Nintendo DS or an iPhone.

But hey, maybe the handheld will pay for itself if its 16 GB flash drive and downloadable games prove cheaper than the UMD purchases. Sony didn’t say, so we’ll have to wait until the October 1 release date gets closer for details.

The PSP Go announcement complimented a lengthy segment in Sony’s press event on the Playstation Portable. The company announced a handful of big-name games — already known about, thanks to that leak — and stressed that 2009 would be a big year for the console, which lags behind the Nintendo DS with roughly 50 percent less worldwide sales.

We saw videos of a PSP Gran Turismo and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, plus mentions of LittleBigPlanet, SOCOM and Jak & Daxter games for the handheld. Sony also said that its video service will be available directly from the PSP, meaning users won’t have to download the content onto a PC first.

Importantly, Hirai stressed that support for the current PSP model won’t go away. “Let me very clear, the PSP Go will not replace the PSP-3000 or the UMD,” he said. With the PSP-3000 selling for $150, Sony’s set up a tough decision for people looking to buy in.


PSP Go is All But Official

playstation-logoMarketing photos, video and details on a new Playstation Portable have leaked three days ahead of Sony’s E3 press conference.

The source of the material is Qore, Sony’s official interactive magazine for Playstation Network members, so this was either an intentional leak to preempt the other console makers or a major foul-up. We’re beyond rumor territory now, but Sony will probably keep quiet on this news until Tuesday.

On to the details: The PSP Go includes 16 GB of flash memory and no UMD drive, Sony marketing executive John Koller said in Qore’s video interview. Of course, all the PSP Go’s content will be download-only, and a Memory Stick Micro slot boosts the potential capacity. The screen measures 3.8 inches, which is a half-inch smaller than the current PSP-3000, but the new model is 43 percent lighter. Bluetooth will be included for using a headset or tethering a cell phone, Koller said.


As you can see from the photo, the controls are located on a panel that slides out from the bottom half of the device. It looks the the control scheme of the old PSP will remain in this model.

Koller blabbed about a few big-name titles in the video, including previously unannounced versions of Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo. Whoops?

The PSP-3000 will stay on the market even after the Go’s fall release, Koller said. Smart move, because it’ll allow Sony to gauge the PSP Go’s success against a console that uses physical game discs. It remains to be seen how Sony will handle the release of UMD games versus digital downloads. Down the line, that ratio will probably be a good indicator of which direction Sony wants to go (no pun intended).


Sony May Cut More PSP Middlemen

pspslimAt this point, everyone but Sony is talking about a redesigned PSP that ditches physical media in favor of digital downloads. Whether you believe that or not, several reports suggest the PSP will eventually focus more on Web transactions with a download-to-rent service.

The evidence came from Joystiq, which reported on a survey gauging interest in a rental service. The questionnaire says this kind of offering “could be developed” and sought feedback on price points, subscription packages, desire for new releases and the number of titles added per month. From the nature of these questions, it seems like Sony is considering paid subscriptions rather than a la carte rentals.

Today, Develop magazine writes that game developers were briefed on the nature of this service at the Game Developers Conference last March. Several studios were reportedly given information and documents on the service.

Download-to-rent video games are an interesting proposition because they alleviate some of the uncertainty downloaders face, knowing they can’t sell the game back to GameStop once they complete the game. The trade-off, obviously, is no ownership of the real gems. If Sony does implement subscription rentals for the PSP, I hope the company figures out a way to bridge this gap.

I’m thinking some sort of incentive plan for purchasing games would work nicely. Gamefly, for example, lets renters keep the games they really like at used game prices, and adds discounts that get better the longer you’re a member. This is what keeps me subscribing through boring spots on the release calendar.

Sony would be wise to implement something similar. Even better, the company could make like Napster or ZunePass and let subscribers permanently hang on to a game every few months. That would keep customers happily forking their money over to Sony, not the middleman.


Is Sony's Next PSP a Go!?

pspslimFirst off, that’s not me getting really excited in the headline. It’s just the dilemma you get when a product name comes with its own punctuation. Sigh.

Anyway, 1UP heard from unnamed inside sources that Sony’s next handheld console will ditch the UMD drive and get a spunky new name, likely the PSP Go!, but possibly the PSP Slide or PSP Flip. This story, of course, goes into the rumor pile at least until E3, when Sony will probably show its hand.

But it’s a juicy rumor. We’ve heard rumblings about a new PSP before, most notably from Acclaim COO David Perry, who said with certainty that the next model would lack a physical disc drive. This time, the proximity to E3 and the amount of detail in 1UP’s story lends greater credibility. Besides, the “Go!” name seems to be sticking in other reports around the Web.

The new PSP will reportedly include a choice of 8 GB or 16 GB of flash memory and a sliding screen with the controls hidden underneath. 1UP says the controls will not include a second analog stick as previously speculated, but will instead closely resemble the existing PSP’s combination of D-Pad, analog nub and buttons. If the story pans out, the new model will reach Japan in September and the US a month or two later.

The biggest change, of course, would be the lack of physical media. Recent announcements of download-only games for the PSP were billed as experimental, but perhaps Sony has already made up its mind. If so, its a pretty staggering change when you think about it. Sure, the iPhone’s App Store, et al, are carving out their own downloadable territory, but no major game console has shown the daring to drop hard copy games completely.

There are concerns to be addressed, of course. What would owners of existing PSPs do with their UMDs if they want to upgrade? And how does GameStop feel about this? Would the store carry boxes with download codes, as is planned for the upcoming Patapon 2, or would it somehow sanction Sony for gradually moving customers away from retail?

If only to see how the industry transforms, I hope this story comes to fruition, and that Sony finds success with the new business model. Shelf space only constrains the amount and type of games a console can offer, so perhaps a UMD-free PSP will attract new developers and audiences, and breathe life into the brand.