I’m going to be honest with you. I’m a gadget freak. My friends know this. My colleagues know this. I know this. For example, I am one of the assholes who has bought all three Nintendo DS SKU’s on consecutive launch dates. That’s right, despite owning perfectly functional DS phat and lites, I’ve also managed to also buy a DSi.
Knowing my weakness for cool new revisions of handhelds, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that Sony has accomplished something extraordinary with their recently released PSP Go. They have, in fact, created a product that I have no desire to purchase.
I love digital distribution. I firmly believe it’s the future of all media consumption. When I first heard that Sony was creating a new revision of the PSP with a focus on digitally distributed games, I have to admit I got a little stiffy.
Unfortunately, Sony soon released a picture of the device:
Are you shitting me?? It looks like someone took leftover chassis scraps from Sony’s failed MYLO line and plugged in PSP controls:
(Many of you may be unfamiliar with the Mylo product. Essentially it’s a clunky, Wi-Fi only Sidekick knock off minus the actual usefulness of having a cell phone.)
That being said, when I actually got to hold one at E3 2009, it didn’t feel as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. It’s pretty similar to holding a Nintendo DS. Still, I expected something a little more… sexy and original for a PSP redesign.
Another thing I noticed was that the screen was actually smaller than my original fat launch PSP from 2005. Now, I hear the screen is a bit brighter and doesn’t have the nasty scanlines that plague the latest PSP-3000. However, my old PSP-1000 has no such problems with scanlines. Why do I have to be worrying about giving up screen real estate when I am spending $250 on an “upgrade” ? So far Sony is not winning me over with the physical changes of the device.
After the design, the second thing that crossed my mind after hearing about the device was “I can play all of the old UMD games I own on this cool new gadget right?”
Warning bells went off in my head when the Sony rep at E3 could not answer my question. Recently, my worst fears were confirmed when Sony announced that all of my previously purchased games would be useless if i bought the PSP Go.
Having worked in digital content management, I know how annoying it can be to obtain clearance rights for content in different formats. I understand Sony’s rationale in avoiding that headache. But seriously, do you not want to take my money, Sony? Because if you had offered ANY solution for playing all the shit I’ve already bought from you in the past, I most likely would have given you $250 for this device.
At least Sony is advancing the industry by moving to a digital distribution model, right? I’ll admit that I am lazy. I would rather not have to go to the store to buy my games if I have to – even if it means giving up a discount. I’ve actually had internal debates over whether the gas and time it takes to drive to a store is worth a $10 discount at retail. Usually, I talk myself into just buying the game off of Steam for full retail price. It downloads fast, and I can usually start playing before the time I would have gotten back from the store. Plus, I don’t have to deal with crap like finding discs, inputting serial numbers, and worrying about what happens when I have to reformat my computer.
In theory, the PSP Go’s method of content delivery should appeal to people like me. Unfortunately, according to Ars Technica, Sony’s really bungled the logistics of the digital distribution. Downloads are only available wirelessly through the slow and ancient 802.11b standard. (FYI, this was the wireless standard in 1999) Even worse, there is no download resume if you get disconnected you cannot download in the background!
WHAT. THE. FUCK?
So you mean to tell me that even if I wanted to re-buy every PSP game I own, I would have to wait hours and hours while not being able to use the device I just paid $250 for? And oh, I have to play a game of internet Russian Roulette with Wifi technology from last century too?
I think it’s pretty clear that there’s absolutely no reason to buy a PSP Go if you already own a PSP. But what if you are in the market for a new PSP? Do you want the Go?
The answer isn’t as clear cut, since you don’t have a previously existing library of games to worry about. However, the headaches associated with the download service already put it at a disadvantage. After all, one of the positives about digital distribution is convenience. It sounds like the PSP Go negates any of that.
A few more things should give you pause over buying a PSP Go. First, homebrew software is not currently possible on the PSP Go. Secondly, there’s no requirement for third party developers to publish their software for digitial distribution. This could mean that some games are available for the older PSP models, but not the new PSP Go. Finally, the retail price of a PSP Go is a full $70 more at retail than a regular PSP-3000. What do you get with that $70? The most tangible benefit is the 16GB of internal storage. A 16GB memory stick will set you back around $70. However, if you’re ok with swapping out memory sticks, you can get 8GB or 4GB sticks for around $18 or $30, respectively. Given that the PSP-3000 has most of the benefits of the PSP Go (You can still buy games digitally with your PSP-3000) without the negatives, you’re probably better off getting a regular PSP.
A recent Fry’s electronics ad has the PSP Go discounted by a stout $50, bringing the price to $199. Even at this price point, I wouldn’t buy the thing. There’s simply no benefit to owning a PSP Go, other than having a smaller device to put into your pocket. Even then, you’re making concessions in regards to potential game libraries and usability. As a World of Warcraft player coming across a new piece of loot would say, “sidegrade at best.”
It’s too bad the PSP Go was so poorly executed. A few common sense tweaks to the product and I would have had no problem GO GO GO’ing on the PSP Go. As it is, I’ll be saying No No No.