NGP: Digital Distribution And The Cross-Platform Prospect

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.

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39 Comments

  1. Not sure about the ‘no additional cost’ thing, as I don’t honestly believe it’s practical. But I’d certainly pay, say, £15 more for a PS3 Blu-ray game if it had an NGP copy on the disc which could be copied over to a paired system.

    Either way, I really hope there’s a lot more PS3/NGP connectivity info to be divulged at this year’s E3.

    • How is it not practical? Valve do it…

      • I just don’t see most developers working on a game for two platforms and giving one of them away free. Yes, Valve did it with Portal 2, but it’s not a common thing among developers. For example, I can’t envisage Kotick allowing Activision to give a way free copies of CoD on NGP with every copy of the PS3 version.

        I guess it all depends just how easy it is to get a PS3 game running on the NGP, and whether or not it’s cost-effective for developers to do it on a regular basis.

      • @Paranoimia Don’t you think paying twice for basically the same game is stupid, valve are a top, top company and so they give the other version free, most steam games can be bought once and downloaded for PC and Mac.

      • Word on the street is that it’s very very simple to get up and running on NGP. However, I do see where you’re coming from, Valve are the exception to the rule by far, simply because they’re so very well self sustaining that they can spend most of their time keeping their fans happy.

        However, picture this. The cost of a game is divided up between publisher, disc manufacturer, retailer and console manufacturer. This is where most of the money comes for Sony’s, MS’ and Nintendo’s warchests, the £10 licensing cost on each game sold.

        So if Sony is prepared to create a special deal for publishers that any game sold under this double platform scheme has a £5 RRP hike, a slight drop in licensing, a ton of advertising, and the bandwidth costs be waived for the download from PSN, I think we’d see a number of developers and publishers hop on board with a few key titles.

        It’d help spur on NGP adoption, generate good will, increase the profits from those titles, as you still have single platform owners buying the game… Basically, a win all around.

      • Brilliant idea! I get the feeling this is just speculation though but it does sound like an extremely exciting and interesting prospect.

  2. Haven’t played my PSP for months maybe even over a year, but this is really awesome, might actually buy one of these NGPs. They look sweet! :D

  3. Like the Steam code we got with Portal 2 for PS3, but NGP/PS3 instead? It’s a good idea, but why do it when they could get people to buy it twice? Or perhaps it’s more incentive to buy the game in the first place. Mm. Preowned games wouldn’t have the privilege too. Interesting possibility.

    • Thing is, i wouldnt want to play a game twice. or play it on a smaller screen with different controls, so it’d actually put me off. gimme a game made for portable and i’ll enjoy the ps3 games on a nice big plasma at home thanks.

      • I see your point. Two versions is good for multiplayer though [provided there is cross-console multiplayer], my brother on the computer & me on the PS3 Portal 2 co-op is great.

  4. expectations are the roots of all heartache:)

  5. I have been thinking exactly the same thing. I think the next MGS game will be be playable on both NGP andPS3

  6. If all (or all the decent) games for the NGP were playable on the PS3, then why would anyone bother buying a NGP? I certainly wouldn’t.

    • So you can play games when you are not home?

    • Like Kivi said. Imagine playing Resistance and then having to go out. You quickly port your save data, and then when you have a minute (on the bus, train or inside) you pick up from where you left off.

      • Personally I’d like to not have to port it or anything – cloud game saves.

      • I guess. But I couldn’t justify buying the NGP at £250-300 (or whatever), just so I can continue playing on the bus.

    • I don’t think all the games would be.
      The NGP isn’t a small PS3 with a screen.
      It’s touch screen, gyro-scopes, touch pads, cameras, microphones, etc.
      Not everything would work, or work as well.
      However, I could see some games working quite well.

      If we’re lucky we might be able to buy something akin to an online pass for preowned games to get the same game again on the PS3 or NGP. If I could get say, Uncharted NGP, and go into the PSN through that game and pay €15 or €20 and be able to download a PS3 version as well, and use the cloud save system available at the moment, I would be very happy.

  7. I’m not up for a general increase in price for games that will have NGP versions available – I might not get me an NGP at all, or maybe I’m not interested in the NGP version for all games…

    How about, when buying PS3 games that have an NGP counterpart, maybe we could buy the NGP download code at a rebated price, or just the NGP game at a somewhat higher cost..?

    • I like this idea better. I think it would be easier to implement and, to be honest, I’m not much fussed with handhelds.

      Though I use public transport a lot I try not to display anything valuable to reduce the risk of getting stabbed.

      • Yeah, stabbings tend to take the fun out of mobile gaming. Best be safe.

  8. I don’t see how this will lead to fairer pricing if it’s download only. If some games do go download only, they will only be available on the Playstation Store, and as such there is no competition, Sony can charge whatever they like and if you want it, you just have to pay that price.

    Perhaps retail outlets like Game or HMV or whatever could sell download codes? That would then introduce the required element of competition to drive down prices and offer “fairer” prices.

    That’s my issue with this, other than the odd sale here and there, games on the Playstation Store generally remain at their release price forever, which is just silly.

    • The NGP won’t be download-only, games will also be sold on flash cards (NVG Cards) in retailers. However, there doesn’t seem to be enough info on these cards yet, such as RRP, whether games will be tied to PSN accounts etc.

      Sony will surely go into details at E3.

    • I get that, but how exactly will it lead to fairer pricing?

  9. “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.” – Do we really need ANOTHER form of media storage, seriously, how many Sony platforms have flopped in the past due to their obsession with creating the format standard?
    Admittedly some have been successful, but surely adopting this kind of approach for each new piece of hardware pushes up the cost of each unit for the end user dramatically.

    • Do people moan about storage formats every time Nintendo release a new system with a different cartridge?

    • The what now?

  10. that’d be awesome to play a game at home, and then carry on while you’re on a long journey. Not to mention online gaming! That’d be real swell.

    • Would be good if it worked seamlessly, i.e. placing the NGP next to the PS3 and they automatically sync data.

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