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Sony PSP

Sony PSP Go Launches... But the Time has Passed

Let me preface by saying that, while I do not consider myself a video game buff, I am the proud owner of a Sony Playstation 3 (used both for Blu Ray and infrequent gaming). It is important to say this because my remarks about the PSP Go - Sony's latest version of their portable gaming device - are neither rooted in a dislike for the hardware nor the for the gaming content.

Simply put, the PSP Go is entering the market at a time dominated by mobile devices. Its two core usages are for gaming (leveraging Sony's content and game developers) and high quality video. But unless Sony's device is staggeringly better than what can be done on the iPhone (and others like the Palm Pre), users will not:

- carry another, heftier device - pay premiums for content and titles - change their viewing habits (how much better would video need to be to turn in your iPhone or iPod Touch for another small viewing screen?) Sony PSP Go

Perhaps if the Sony Go was introduced two years ago, it could have won market share during a time when consumers did not believe everything (work, phone, gaming and video) could be done in a single device. But today - we know it is possible and we know that the trend will continue:

- devices are getting better - gaming content is dramatically improving (just look at Zynga) - major gaming titles and developers are focusing their attention on mobile (currently the primary reason for gamers to want a PSP Go) - in the near-term economic climate, users appear willing to sacrifice quality for pricing (ie a <$10 game via the App Store vs. a $40 Sony title) - Apple and others are opening up to allow peripheral development / integration... which could significantly enhance gaming quality

iPhone Game Play Goes Retro; Gets Mixed Results

In late March, I wrote that the next step for iPhone game developers was to go 'backwards' by mimicking control pads found on old gaming systems like Nintendo NES and GameBoy:

Well the iPhone has really gone retro by releasing Sonic the Hedgehog with a two-button control pad. TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid isn't a fan: "I’m not a fan of the control scheme some developers are adopting to port these classic games, which typically consists of a virtual joypad in the bottom left hand corner of the screen with a few virtual buttons on the right side. Visually the buttons successully mimic the gamepads of yore, but they lack any tactile feedback at all, which gets frustrating when you’re trying to dodge bullets or leap from cliffs and you accidentally hit the wrong button."

Similar feedback was given in the comments from my earlier post. Commenters pointed out that some other games have virtual "d-pads" that have similar issues:

"It's already out there. Though having used these apps, this setup is still difficult to actually play with. There's no tactile feedback to the buttons, making playing very difficult."

If tactical feedback is the primary issue, perhaps the pad / buttons need to be more prominently displayed and provide more obvious visual feedback upon touch.

... Or you could always buy the new Sony PSP that featured a slide-out controller pad, carry yet another device in your pocket and purchase more expensive games. My bet - iPhone developers will figure it out and users will get accustomed to it.