Despite numerous ups and downs, the PSP has had a great run, especially in Japan where it’s still managing to push an average of around 60,000 units a month.
However, with Sony’s “Next Generation Portable” on the horizon as well as the newly-announced PSP Remastered series, the original PlayStation handheld’s days are numbered. We have no doubts that publishers will continue to support the platform even after the NGP’s release but with Sony’s target market mainly consisting of up-to-date, hardcore gamers, the PSP will have a hard time keeping up, at least in Western territories.
When the PSP Go launched in 2009, it effectively put the final nail in the coffin for the UMD as a method of distribution for Sony’s next portable device. Consumers were initially apprehensive of the Go’s download-only method of buying games. Sony has taken on board criticisms, the NGP combining the best of both worlds; software will be sold in stores on all-new NVG Cards, as well as via the PlayStation Network.
Not only does it mean that NGP developers will be able to cut back the production costs; hopefully it will lead to fairer pricing and an easier channel for game updates and patches too (which could remedy the piracy woes of the original handheld.)[drop2]To commemorate the handheld before it’s even been put to rest, Sony are also sporting a new “Remastered” series, essentially PSP classics which have been re-worked in HD, fully playable on the PlayStation 3. Call it a cheap cash-in or golden opportunity to relive your favourite handheld hits, either way it outlines an interesting future prospect for the NGP.
It may sound like a stab in the dark, but what if Sony were to accompany the release of new NGP titles with an HD, PS3-compatible version too?
Imagine buying the new Uncharted, Resistance, or Killzone and instantly having it available on both platforms, with the added feature of being able to transfer game save data. It would be ideal, especially for those who don’t intend picking up an NGP. If the handheld’s online capabilities are as expansive as to be believed, what’s to stop there also being a level of cross-platform PSN integration too?[drop]Pursuing such an innovative method of marketing wouldn’t come without its fair share of serious flaws. Firstly, publishers would need to invest more time and money into their games, so such a level of cross-platform distribution could probably never become a compulsory practice.
Making the games simultaneously available on both the NGP and PS3 for consumers at no additional cost, would also mean that the price of the games themselves would likely inflate to a turgid, unattractive figure. If such a scheme were ever to come into fruition it would likely be exclusive to first/second-party titles.
What we have seen of the NGP excites us already; the prospect of having a handheld appendix for our PlayStation 3 consoles has us frothing at the mouth, eagerly awaiting an in-depth examination when Tretton and co. take the stage at Sony’s E3 2011 conference.