Blog: Impressions of the PSP’s successor
Did Sony play their cards right?
Just as expected, Sony had revealed the successor to the PSP codenamed NGP ( Next Generation Portable) in their event last week. Although much of the specs and capabilities that were rumored turned out true, it was our first time actually seeing the device in action. Needless to say, Sony didn’t fail to impress as countless jaws dropped in reaction to the massive potential shown by this sexy piece of hardware.
The NGP is an extremely powerful portable machine. In fact it’s the most powerful portable device in the current market. The hardware behind it can dance and run laps around any form of competition out there in terms of raw power. In regards to connectivity the NGP adds 3G capability to make sure that gamers can be online anywhere they are regardless of the availability of a Wi-Fi hotspot. Sony made sure that this new device would aim to not just compete with the 3DS but with the Iphone4 and other portable devices out there. It features both touch controls as well as actual physical buttons. The addition of the 2nd analog stick (yeah these are no longer nubs but actual mini analog sticks) and the track pad on the back of the device provides a variety of control schemes a developer can choose from. Take Monkey Ball for example, using the trackpad on the back of the NGP you are able to control the ball without your finger covering a part of the screen itself.
As for NGP’s OS it is called LiveArea. It emphasizes on social media and thus everything from trophies to message boards are available for you to compete and discuss with your fellow gamers. In addition it includes an application called Near-app which basically scans all NGP units near your location and allows you to view their status, trophies, and interact with them. LiveArea looks to be very slick and snappy as you can drop in and out from apps and games seamlessly.
The games shown at the event were quite outstanding. Most notably Uncharted, Killzone, Resistance, Wipeout, and Little big planet. The graphical aspect of these game is something we have never seen a handheld before. Most reactions describe the graphics as very close to what you can see on a PS3. In addition developers such as Kojima Productions showcased ports of PS3 games running impressively on the NGP. Kojima himself noted that on such a system you can experience playing a PS3 on the go. Combined with the great control options the possibilities that developers can toy with are endless.
To wrap up Sony sure did blow our minds with their latest showcase. The potential behind this device is massive and Sony needs to be very careful with the decisions they make leading up to the release. In order to really succeed there are 3 things Sony need to focus on right now:
Pricing: Sony needs to price the device competitively. Something along the lines of 300 USD or below would be ideal, however 350 USD might still be reasonable. Anything above that will cause a lot of people to back out from purchasing this device and wait for a price drop. You need to take a hit if required Sony, trust me it will pay off massively.
Games: The titles shown at the conference were absolutely amazing. However, the launch library needs more diversity. We need a couple of fighters or Sports games to diverse the genre’s available for launch as well as attract a larger audience. In addition smaller PSN games should also be available for launch in order to mix the pricing of the games you can get. There needs to be a mix of retail and PSN titles available.
Battery life: This is where it might be a bit tough. The hardware running on this machine is out of this world and hence they need to find a way to make the battery last as long as possible. In order to rival the 3DS or the IPhone4 the NGP needs to have at least 5hrs+ of gaming time. Anything less would be extremely problematic as the purpose of a handheld device is to be played in areas where you don’t have access to a console and a TV. I don’t want to play a game on a bus drive for 2hours to find that my battery died.
The Device itself is brilliant so far and if Sony emphasized on the three points mentioned above then other portable devices are in for one hell of a competition. All I can say Sony is that the ball is in your court, if you screw this up then there is no one to blame but you.