Let’s face it, finding someone who actively uses their PSP is pretty rare. In a world where Nintendo and Apple are ruling the mobile game department, the presence of the PlayStation Portable is left in the dust. The App World is dominated by the iPhone and iPad and traditional style gaming on the go is powered by Nintendo, leaving Sony will little to work with.
Now, to be honest, the PSP is not a bad device. It provides some of the best graphics and titles to ever be put into a gamer’s hands. Some bad choices were made when constructing the system for its December 2004 release, but now the time has come for Sony to show that they mean business when it comes to portable gaming.
So what should Sony do?
Build further on the titles that are Sony exclusives. Metal Gear Solid, God of War, and Gran Turismo have produced good games on the PSP, and they need to continue this trend. Regardless of market presence, the PSP still has a library that will attract the hardcore audience. While we’re at it, create intensive cross console interaction between the PS3 and the PSP2. Manage your Madden team, browse levels from Little Big Planet and send them to download to the PS3, access your PSN profile to chat with friends. Sony can make a truly synergetic PlayStation world that Nintendo would die for.
Add apps for a more robust mobile experience. Skype, Google Maps, Facebook and Twitter would all be great additions to the PSP that would result in people using the system more often which, in turn, will expose it to more of the public. PSP Minis are great and getting boatloads of developers onto the bandwagon would be a huge plus. This is probably a long shot, but providing a 3G service would be a huge win. Being Internet ready at all times is a strong selling point for many technofiles. Worried about the price? Create a Wi-Fi only version too, just like the iPad.
Regarding the build, I think Sony had the right idea with the PSP Go, but was not without flaws which , in turn, could lead to some great opportunities to overtake its competitors. First of all, keep the slide out mechanism that gives a bigger screen than a stationary form would. As far as resolution goes, go the iPhone 4 route as opposed to the DSi XL method. Increase the PPI, not the screen size. If Apple’s Retina Display proves anything, it’s that resolution trumps size. After all, we’re graphics whores, aren’t we? And as far as 3D goes, don’t waste your money, although this may be tough to swallow considering how hard Sony is pushing 3D on multiple platforms.
As far as controls go, there is one thing that needs to be added to make the system great: dual analog. If you need to make the handheld a bit bigger, that’s fine, but some games just need to have dual analog joysticks to be played right. Add a bit of ergonomic styling, and you have yourself a win. Not to mention, ports of remakes of other PlayStation games would be played with a much more consistent experience.
PSP2 games should come in two flavors, traditional cartridge based and downloadable. I’m not saying they all should be in both formats, but an occasional option of downloading for a reduced price would be a nice feature. Sony should also invest on finding a good alternative to UMDs. SD cards, Memory Sticks, whatever. The price has gone down on these items and data space has increased, think about it.
On a final note, Sony should add Trophies into the mix. Some don’t care about Trophies at all, but it’s a cool little feature that shouldn’t be to difficult to tie into the platform. On the other hand, some people are super Trophy whores. These folks alone will extend the replayability of games and also populate a larger demand for walkthroughs and FAQs. While they’re tinkering with this feature, go ahead and attach it to your PSN ID and show trophies for both platforms on the profile seen on the PS3.
Obviously the risk of having our gaming dreams come to fruition is the resulting price. The PSP’s pricing is definitely one of the major causes for sales that were considerably less than its competitor, especially in America. Technology is cheaper, but we’re asking for considerable upgrades. My desired price point? $199. Yes, it’s a lot cheaper than what it would likely be, but with full blown living room consoles sitting in the $200 range while increasing in features, a handheld will have to be aggressively priced.
I want a strong portable gaming system, I want to be able to play high quality, full featured games on the go, but the current PSP does not satisfy my needs by a longshot. With word that a PSP phone will be coming out, we’ll see what Sony’s true plan is.
So, fellow geeks, what do you think Sony needs to do to make the PSP2 even more successful than it’s previous iteration?