PSP Go: Sony may have confused hardware for service


Sublimely Static
Feb 3, 2007
PSP Go: Sony may have confused hardware for service

Sony is making waves with the PSP Go, although what many gamers are failing to realize is that the ability to buy games online and go purely digital already exists with the product they own. Everyone is talking about the hardware, when the PlayStation Network as a service is the big story... and that already works with your less expensive PSP.
By Ben Kuchera | Last updated June 11, 2009 6:40 AM CT

Holding a PSP Go, it's hard not to fall in love with the hardware, or at least develop a little crush on it. The system feels nice and sturdy, with a beautiful screen and clear sound. It feels like what it is: an expensive piece of consumer electronics equipment. The problem—and this might be a good problem to have—is that the hardware is already largely redundant. Sony's big move to digital is where the real news lies, and what people are forgetting is that there is no need to upgrade to take advantage of what Sony is offering.
Starting with the launch of the PSP Go, all PSP games will be available both as UMD releases and purely digital downloads. The PSP Go ships with 16GB of storage and no UMD drive, making it seem like the perfect platform for gaming on the go. Of course, so is your existing PSP system. You can download a limited number of UMD games directly to your Pro Duo card right now, and when that number increases all it takes is more storage to take advantage of it. You don't need $250 worth of hardware to go digital: buy a second-hand PSP, slam in a large Pro Duo card, and there you go.
The value and audacity of what Sony will be offering has nothing to do with the hardware and everything to do with the ubiquity of downloadable games and content. Sony already offers the ability to download video from the PlayStation Network directly with your existing hardware, and that allows you to keep your larger screen and ability to play your classic games. Not to mention you can take advantage of inexpensive used games that exist on UMDs. Sure, the system is slightly bigger and doesn't support bluetooth, but you won't have to buy new cables. The value of the "classic" PSP systems has never been better.
The biggest challenge facing the PSP Go is that its price is way too high for what you get over and above the standard PSP system. Having a sliding screen is nifty, but that screen is smaller. Being purely digital is great, but there's no reason you can't simply stop using the UMD drive in your existing system. John Koller spoke about helping retailers by changing the margin structure of the PSP Go, meaning that retailers may be enjoying a higher mark-up on the hardware than they usually see when selling hardware, which also explains the higher price. The question is, what happens when Walmart decides to forgo that margin and sell the unit as a loss-leader, as it does every other piece of gaming hardware it sells? GameStop is still left out in the cold, since it can't count on your wife picking up meatloaf while you buy electronics.
This is why the PSP Go may not do well at retail: the hardware is simply a nifty redesign of a system many of us already own. It's a little smaller. It supports bluetooth. That's pretty much it. Even if the system shipped with a faster CPU or more memory, developers would never spend time and money supporting a system with such a tiny installed base; why fracture development?
Unfortunately Sony and many pundits have the PSP Go confused with the service that Sony is offering with the PlayStation Network. Your existing model will take advantage of the new digital ecosystem just fine. The value of these moves for Sony is a more direct line to consumers with both games and content, and downloads that can't be traded in or bought used. The value for consumers is ease of use and convenience. None of these things require you to upgrade to new hardware.
Take the PSP Go out of the picture entirely and it's still a very exciting time for Sony's portable platform. Sony is going to be delivering great content, online, bypassing retail completely if you decide to download your games. While the DSi may be flirting with smaller games, and the iPhone is now seeing some games take up a moderate amount of space, Sony's strategy is a clear movement to a purely digital platform. This is being kicked off with the release of the PSP's Gran Turismo game, and the LittleBigPlanet demo I saw on Koller's PSP was amazing. A new Rock Band with classic gameplay is likewise a head-turner, along with the rest of Sony's upcoming titles for the platform.
The feature set, price, and game catalog of the PSP is very hard to beat, especially if you pick up an inexpensive used system. The gaming world is once again excited about the PSP platform, and Sony is taking a strong leadership position when it comes to bringing its devices together and selling games directly to consumers. Forget about the PSP Go unless you're in love with hardware that's shiny and new... not that there's anything wrong with that.
Sony's newest PSP iteration wants to take on the iPod touch, and frankly the software and content support for Apple's media players makes the iPod line an intimidating foe; Sony's strength with the PSP has always been with gaming. The smaller screen and somewhat cramped controls of the PSP Go may actually make the system a worse platform for games, not a better one.
Existing PSP owners shouldn't feel slighted by the new hardware: the system they already have is about to get much, much better as a digital device. Sony doesn't need to launch hardware to begin its assault on retail-sold games, although it certainly got us all talking.

I guess this is for all those arguing about the price of the go. Don't worry about it. Just let us see if we can get these games digitally.


Superior Member
Sep 6, 2007
I don't see most existing PSP owners upgrading just yet. Its more going to be people like me who thought the PSP was too big. I won't carry PSP but PSP-Go is of much higher interest.


Super Elite
Feb 2, 2007
That is why the PSP 3000 is still on the market....

And the PSP Go is just a 'hype' creator, a modern interpretation for those who want the latest must have cool device. It is slightly more conveniant also with its built in 16GB Flash. I believe Sony made this clear in their E3 Speech. The 3000 will stay; and all owners will get the same functionality. The only difference is you will be playing with more UMD's or/and Memory sticks; simple a 'conveniance' thing. However I should add that the PSP Go will have a 'in-game' XMB that the PSP 3000 will lack.....

In terms of design they both also look great. The 3000 has the bigger screen but you pay for that as it cannot fit inside your pocket. Again the PSP Go is more conveninant in this regard. However that is no excuse for charging the price they are hoping to get away with. Let us see how it stacks up against the iPhone come the launch.

I am pleased however that it has been recognised the PSP will offer the 'better' games going into Q4 2009 than any other portable on the market. For a system that was on a regular basis hammered down for its lack of games; this makes a wonderful comeback!