Sony PSP – Playing the Waiting Game

I have $250 duckets from Christmas that I have tagged as my PSP money. I figure that cash should get me a system plus a single game. Is this new wonder-toy going to be worth that type of money? I sure hope so, but damn is it a tough wait.

I do not really want to import because I have not had time to properly research to see if Sony is going to make the media (both games and movies) region specific; I assume they will because they always do for contract reasons. I do know that I am dieing to get my hands on Ridge Racers – that game looks like a system seller to me. Fans of the series will be happy to note that pretty much all of the previous game’s tracks are going to be included. To play RRType 4 tracks on this portable will totally kick ass!

Then there are the other recycled titles that interest me. Portable Gran Turismo? You bet! A portable version of Twisted Metal? I am so there! Assuming that EA can do wonders with the PSP sports titles such as Madden and SSX (whatever the portable version will be called) should be system sellers. I am not sure how much originality will come to the system, but above average portable version of fan-favorite games will sale well.

The hard part is going to be the price both for the system and for the media, and of course system availability. I have been trying to find a US online vendor for weeks that well take pre-orders, but no dice so far. We can take a guess (based on the Japanese version) that the PSP will be priced at $199 or less, but more troublesome is the price point of the games. All major online stores are listing games at $49.99 a pop – way too expensive for this gamer.

I do not see myself becoming a movie collector for the PSP’s proprietary media so I doubt I will be spending money on PSP versions of favorite movies, and I really wonder how Sony will push this off to consumers as something worthwhile. Same goes with music I have my trusty iPod, so I am not going to start downloading and paying for PSP specific media content. I am not sure where Sony will take this, but it would be a smart move to allow us to download movies or maybe create a “three watches and done” format that will sale for under $10.

I passed on the Nintendo DS, despite having a large library of GB compatible games, because I am really buying into the Sony hype machine. If they can pull this thing off, have decent battery power, and keep prices of games reasonable, I think Nintendo is going to be in for a huge fight. The best system does not always win (Atari Lynx anyone?) so I really think price point for the PSP games will be huge for consumers.

The interesting thing that could be lost in all the hype surrounding the PSP is that Sony could become so consumed with making this portable system successful that they manage to get beaten out by Microsoft (and the next Xbox) in the next round of the console wars (for lack of a better word). That would be something if Sony expends so much time and effort on the PSP that Microsoft manages to catch Sony with their collective pants down.

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5 thoughts on “Sony PSP – Playing the Waiting Game”

  1. The PSP games will not region specific, but the movies will be. The UMD movies are just be another bullet point on the PSP hype-list and will probably bomb badly. No one is going to buy movies in a proprietary format, especially when you can encode your DVDs into MP4 files and watch them on the PSP by copying them to the standard Sony memory sticks that the PSP reads.

    Here’s Sony’s official stance on the PSP regional coding:

    "Sony’s official stance as far as region coding for games is "It’s up to the developer." They said it’s region free because they envision people traveling the world, picking up games from wherever, but I guess to appease some publishers, they left the ability to have a lockout in the system.

    Movies will be region encoded, but the PSP has the ability to playback multiple soundtracks, so if you had a Japanese disc with a secondary English track, in theory, you could select that and listen."

  2. I heard that Gamestop or EB was taking preorders but only at the stores, not online.

    It looks like it will be towards the end of March.

    The games don’t really excite me that much. I could get the console versions and get a better experience because I would mostly use the PSP at home (so battery life wouldn’t be as big a deal).

    Most of the games have wireless LAN mode, as opposed to online mode. So if you want to play multiplayer, you have to find other people with PSPs and the same games you have.

    I was wondering whether the built-in wireless capability would make developers do more with multiplayer and online. So for instance, would Tiger Woods support more than the two-player/two console online mode, even if it has to be in LAN mode? Apparently not.

    Similarly, there are other sports games which support multitap for 3 or more players in a game on the consoles but they are strictly 2-player LAN for the PSP.

    Nor are you getting multiplayer modes in games which don’t have them in the console incarnations. For instance, GTA is announced but it doesn’t sound like it will even have any wireless LAN modes.

    So this first wave of games at least doesn’t expand on the console versions to take advantage of the unique hardware capabilities of the PSP. Wireless LAN modes are impractical for anyone but kids still in school. Multiplayer for older gamers are more likely (and convenient) in online modes.

    I agree that UMD movies won’t catch on, unless Netflix rents them. For the same reason, I can’t really see people buying the PSP versions of games over the console versions if they have access to both and are interested in multiplayer.

    Even for singleplayer, are you going to do your franchise mode for Madden on the PSP or on the console? Are you going to do career mode for GT4 on the PSP or the console? If PSP games are $50, which makes more sense, especially when you consider that console games are more likely to be discounted quicker than PSP games, which as the new thing will likely stay at MSRP prices.

  3. Jason – I agree with you about the movie thing. I do not plan on buying proprietary format movies. I think it is really cool that Sony decided to follow Nintendo’s lead and not have region specific games.

    BTW – thanks for all info. It is nice to have a "cheat" sheet.

  4. wco81 – hopefully Sony and/or developers will be smart and price their games for less than $50. I can live with paying $50 for console games, but not for portables. Portable games should be priced at $29 or less – just what feels like a valid price point to this gamer.

    To answer your last questions, no I will not play my Madden or GT4 franchise/career modes on the PSP. With that said I am traveling more and more so having my favorite games in a portable format is a huge win. I mean those 8+ hour plane trips suck.

    I am just not a huge multi player gamer. With the exception of OOTP all my game time is spent single player with a few two player (same room) sessions thrown in for good measure.

    Thanks for the well formed opinions/post.

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