I am all about innovation when it comes to hand-held systems. I also believe that if something is not broke do not fix it. Sony’s original Playstation Portable (PSP) entered Sony into a market that was being dominated by Nintendo. The PSP had features and options that set it apart from the Nintendo DS. The ability to listen to music, view photos, and even view movies (which was originally a huge pain in the ass to do). UMD movies were also a novel concept that could have given the PSP an even greater edge had they not been outrageously overpriced. It had potential not only as a gaming platform but as a portable media device.
The system’s name did not lie either. The PSP was capable of generating graphics that were comparable to that of a PS2 (now more so than earlier, but you get the idea) and had a great lineup of software. Nintendo wasn’t going to just move over though, they had a few tricks left in their bag. To make a long story short Nintendo repeatedly revamped the DS into different models, but made each subsequent model better than its predecessor. Sony would retaliate with 2 more PSP models that offered features like a TV output feature to game on your TV (component only with the PSP 2000, but composite was added with the PSP 3000) and a more study design that featured less vulnerable mechanical components (UMD Bay for example). The newer PSP models still had that original aesthetic to them, but were made into a more functional hand-held systems.
So what compelled Sony to redesign again? Who knows, maybe they were still not satisfied with the current models available on the market. Enter the PSPgo. Sony’s latest re-imagining of the PSP looked more like a fancy cell phone than a hand held gaming system. Just the thought of that left a bad taste in my mouth.
The PSPgo had taken a slightly different route than its brethren. It was completely digital, no UMDs required. Equipped with either a 16 or 32gb on board hard drive the PSPgo offered gaming on the “go” with no extra baggage. In theory this idea sounds great, you don’t have to swap games anymore or worry about them getting scratched or some shit like that. But the thing that at first glance seems so appealing completely deterred me from ever considering buying this product. I guess i am just a analog guy living in a digital world, but the collector in me likes having physical media. I don’t like the idea of having to purchase a game code from a local retailer or charge my credit card on the PSN to download a game i could very well hate. Yes some games have demos, but for those that don’t you are rolling the dice with your hard earned greenbacks. So if i buy a game that i don’t like, guess what, i can’t do shit with it besides delete it. Aside from how games are purchased i had a beef with the new design. They made it smaller for some god awful reason. Small might be cute for some people, but its completely ineffective for anyone’s hands that are larger than Verne Troyer’s. The last nail in the coffin was the price. 250 big ones. Returning to the price of the original PSP that had launched 4 years prior. The system just received a price drop recently of $50, but i don’t know how far that will “go” in enticing consumers to purchase a glorified Sidekick. I don’t think that this system will ever have a following or remain in production much longer. I have high hopes for Sony’s hand held division in the future, just be conscious of your design choices and the repercussions they carry.