Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PSP2 - My Thoughts, Predictions, Expectations

For a rather long time now, the PSP2, Sony's theoretical successor to the PSP, has been a rumor tossed about with no real basing aside from eventuality.  The PSP, no matter what some might tell you, was most certainly not a flop, having sold an estimated 62 Million units as of last year, and, while it's had its fair share of problems (Mostly in the piracy column), there's been no indication that, in a business sense, there should not be a follow-up device.  So, really, it's been more of a "when" than an "if" for a long time now.

Well, actually, ever since September it's been less "when" and more "soon".  Netherrealm, back in the hustle in bustle of the goings-on, let it slip that not only did they have a prototype to work with, but that it was, in fact, "Powerful", so much so that it was worth a mention in the same breath as stating that they weren't planning on releasing the new Mortal Kombat on everything day-one, including the newly-announced (at the time) 3DS.  Could it have been a fluke?  Possibly, maybe moreso if he hadn't elaborated on the PSP2, making it known that he knew what he was saying, but then again, he might've just been in another thought.  These things happen.

Well, since then other people have all had things to say and speculate, going so far as to say that this Thursday, at the just-announced Playstation Meeting, it will be announced officially for the first time.  (Can I put more links into that sentence?  Theory says yes, but practice says I shouldn't.)  And honestly, with the thread of the 3DS looming in the background, ever-presently, there's no reason not to at least announce it right now, unless it's going to take the better parts of two years to get it into consumer hands.  So, going with the idea that it will be announced, and that a whole bunch of specs have been "leaked", I'm going to go through them, and say what I expect, what I hope for, and what we all shouldn't hope for, even though it would be majestic.

One of the earliest, most-referenced mock-ups of a then-theoretic PSP2.  Unlikely, but damn sexy.
The latest word (From here originally) was one of the larger lists of specs so far, featuring:

- Less broad but more high than the original PSP (PSP dimensions: 17X7.4X2.3 cm)
- 5" OLED multi-touch screen (12.7 cm)
- Multi-touch trackpad
- Resolution: 960 x 544
- Quad core ARM Cortex A-9
- PowerVR SGX 543 MP4+
- 512MB LPDDR2 RAM (1GB devkits)
- 16GB flash + SD slot
- Wifi, 3G, bluetooth
- Acelerometers, GPS, gyroscope, front and back camera
- November 2011

Which, I don't know, a lot of that goes right over my head, but none of it sounds too far-fetched aside from, perhaps, the Screen resolution, possibly the GPS, since that might not be so easy to license.  I'm not sure I buy 3G being in it, but we'll just have to see, as that's seeming to be a little more, er, standard in mobile things.

Now, as far as what we do know, since it's been in just about every rumor since the conception, is that the PSP2 will almost definitely have two analogue sticks which may just be crucial to the strategy.  I can't tell how many complaints have been leveled at the PSP for only having one stick (admittedly, a few from myself even at times), and given that the 3DS will be the one with just one this time, anything that can be made out to be an objective advantage is necessary.  Even when people start complaining that it's a 'nub', well, at least there's two of 'em, buddy which means no padding the face buttons just to swivel the camera around.  So that's not just a hope, but that's a down-right prediction from me, and an easy one to make, no doubt.

My other definite predictions for the PSP2 are, no doubt some form of physical media (with the most likely being flash sticks, ala 3/DS) and at least one touchscreen.  If all the specs leaked so far are accurate, this thing could stand the potential to have two or even three, depending on how the rear situation is handled.  Sometimes I've heard a sensor pad, sometimes two, sometimes a multi-touch sensor bar, etc. etc.  So if nothing else, we can relatively easily say that it'll have at least one screen of the touch variety on there.  Physical media is almost a given, being that the less-than-lukewarm reception of DD-only design by some companies who will remain nameless goddamnsqueenix has been one of the more-poked topics concerning the PSP being 'failed'.   Granted, if it's DD-only or get out, that'll solve your problem of devs not making DD versions of their games for your system, but it might also stop them from making games for your system.

Another mock-up.  Equally sexy, still very unlikely.  I would eat this up, though.

 Now, what can we hope from the PSP2 at least semi-realistically?  Well, for one, PSP backwards compatibility would be a nice start.  I would almost guarantee it, but what with the whole GeoHot/fail0verflow nonsense having gotten out and demolished the PS3/P securities both, it's hard telling for sure.  Given that people are able to actually sign software on the PS3/P systems, that might have been a fatal blow for BC in the Sony systems.  Given that they require the key that has been put out there to run, having said key on the new systems might just leave the security open from day one, which no company wants to do.  Before this whole thing happened, I was willing to go out on a limb and not only suggest full PSN-PSP BC (as in, the DD-games, which in turn, might spurn some people on to put their games up) but PSN-PS3 BC as well, meaning some PS3 PSN games would have be able to be played on the go.  Perhaps not every game, certainly not the full PS3 DD games, but some.  Which of course, sounds nice and all, but whether it's simply possible now (from a business sense, not a technical one) is up in the air, leaning towards falling on the Not good side.

But hey, as long as they get to run Linux and other little piddly homebrew things they could just make on the PC on the PS3, anything and everything is totally worth it, right?  Right?  (Not right.  Damn it.)

BC that I'm willing to go out there on a limb for is continued support for the PSOne Classics.  They're extremely cheap to do and sell, and likely well-worth the cost, since all it's putting the Devs out on is the ESRB rating and Sony's QA support.  I can't see the PSP2 not play PSOne games, since, hey, that's a potential bullet-point.  Continued support of Minis is more expected than not, as well, but that may fall into the same categorical limbo as PSN games.

What we're likely dreaming for this to deliver, but won't be able to is pretty easy to point out.  If the PSP can play PSOne games, the PSP2 should play PS2 games, right?  I'm putting an almost non-zero chance on this happening, because, not only would it be difficult in theory to make portable versions of the parts that are absolutely positively necessary for PS2 games, but controls are an issue as well.  So far, we all know that it will have two sticks, but there's still only two shoulder buttons (L and R, instead of L1, L2, R1, R2) as far as any of the reports are saying.  Is it possible that that's where the rear touchpad/bar/sensor/thing comes into play?  Absolutely.  Would I expect it, in a way that if it's not delivered, I will be angry?  Of course not.  Because I don't realistically expect it, and neither should you.  If anything, it would be that much more of a surprise if it happened.

And the final issue that floats somewhere in between "What we can hope for, and possibly recieve" and "What we can hope for, and be stupid for wanting it" is the notorious issue of pricing.  Sony's no stranger to starting way high in the price-zone to come down later on, with the intent on making a profit per-unit-sold for at least the better portion of its lifetime.  Which is a strategy that they sorely need to ignore for this.  The 3DS is out there, price-wise.  It's $250, which to normal people is a lot and given that it's that high at least partially because of the E3 reaction, makes it a perfect opportunity to strike.  What everyone expects Sony to do is go, "Oh, $250, well our product is better so let's make it more expensive!", which is exactly what should not happen.  It is the anti-thing to be done, make no mistake about it.

I'm not exactly sure just what price they can set on the PSP2 to ensure a profit-per-unit with it also being a viable price to, y'know, be sold at, since I'm not really knowledgeable on those things.  Is it possible that they could sell the thing for $350 and still lose money on it?  Sure, and that would be a damn shame, since it would point to them needing to have used less expensive things to start with.  But if they want this thing to be anywhere near viable, it's got to, at the very damn least, be $299 or less.  Anything above that is lunacy bordering on financial suicide given that the console they sell is $300, and absolutely no other gaming thing is above that price currently.  The very very best thing that they could do is put this thing at $250 to compete directly with the 3DS or, even more optimally, sub-$250, even if it's just in the $210-230 range.  If just to get that first blow against Nintendo to let everyone know that they're trying.

So my main bullet points for a PSP2 have been thus:  1-3 touch screens of some variety, 2 sticks, physical media (with a download option as well), PSOne/Minis support, Possibly PSP BC, PSP-PSN BC, PS3-PSN functionality, and, for best results, <$250.  Is it realistic?  I don't know. Will it be worth more than $200 if it doesn't have PSP/PSN/PSOne/Minis support?  Hell no.  Which is what really really worries me about this whole thing, since it very well may not be viable unless there's some sort of technomancy they can work around to make sure the PSP2 can't be compromised in the exact same fashion as the PSP, which, rest assured, will be the first thing a good percentage of PSP2 purchasers will attempt.  If Sony's forced to put out something that will only play PSP2 games and do all the fancy multi-media things, it'll almost be DOA based solely on that.  If it's 'competitively priced' at that, then it's almost assured.

It's definitely something we'll have to wait and see on; after all, it's only a day away, but that doesn't make the anticipation any easier/less worrying.

1 comment:

  1. GPS? Man.

    Now you can basically take your (hypothetical) PSP2 anywhere and justify it.

    "Why do you have a game console?"
    "Piss off, this baby's a -GPS- bitches~"

    And then you totally play Valkyria Chronicles on it.


    Mogs would totally buy a GPS that did the maps in VC's art style.