So it’s finally official, Sony’s latest worst kept secret is the PSP2. Codenamed the NGP (Next-Gen Portable) it promises near PS3 like graphics, a Quad Core Processor, 2 cameras (on the front and back), two analogue sticks (not nubs) and a 5” OLED Multi-touch screen. It also has a track pad on its back that matches the screen in size and placement. It certainly looks like an impressive piece of technology. Sony has also decided not to make the leap to download software only, instead opting to put their games on flash memory cards similar to the DS. Not to say that you won’t be able to download directly from the store, but given the failure of the PSPGo it is probably the best way to go.
The NGP will also be backwards compatible with all of your downloaded PSP media such as Minis, PSOne classics and PSP games. Add to that the ability to watch movies, listen to music and all of the multimedia options that Sony like to put in their machines, you end up with something that most tech-heads want to get their hands on! There are also rumours involving trophy support and cloud based game saves, which will enable you to transfer between PS3 and NGP.
Due for a winter holiday release (probably Sept/Oct and more than likely a simultaneous worldwide launch), Sony was keeping mum on the price and that may be where the NGP comes unstuck, because with great power comes a hefty price tag. Already there are reports that Sony will be asking around $500 – $600 for the device (although these reports are complete unfounded), it is likely that with all of the tech goodness pumped into the tiny device that the price will be considerably higher than the $250 asking price for Nintendo’s 3DS.
The NGP is undoubtedly an awesome and impressive piece of kit and Sony would have made some real headway if they announced a price that was on par with Nintendo’s next handheld. But Sony has a history of asking top dollar for their gear. The PS3 was an eye watering $600 at launch and even the PSP was released at $250, so why would anyone hope for a sub $250 price tag for the NGP? This may be the ultimate stumbling block for the electronics giant. They seem to have forgotten the point of portable gaming. Sure, the NGP will have a line up of top titles such as Uncharted, Call of Duty, LBP & Killzone, but if most people want to play those types of games they can just put the games in their PS3. With the massive success of the iPhone platform, portable gaming is about cheap and simple games that can be picked up and played for a short period of time, mainly on short journeys to and from work. It isn’t really about precision gaming with in-depth stories and complex controls.
Have Sony shot themselves in the foot with the NGP? Have they completely missed the whole point of the current portable gaming scene? I guess only time will tell. Sony have promised more information at E3 later this year, but knowing Sony and their inability to keep anything secret, we may not have to wait that long to find out.