Is the PSP Go a Miscalculation by Sony?

sony-psp-go-1Like many other people, I was very interested in seeing the ‘official’ unveiling of the PSP Go during Sony’s E3 press conference. Of course, we’d all seen it before the conference started, but I still wanted to see the official reveal.

My first thought was that other than the size of the unit, the PSP Go really wasn’t all that different from the PSP I already own. Over the weekend, I read an interesting article on Ars Technica, where they reached a similar conclusion. I thought I’d share it, as it tracks closely with my early impressions of the system.

The bigger news, according to Ars Technica, is the news that Sony is moving all their PSP distribution to digital, as well as on UMD. However, there’s no reason to buy the new handheld to take advantage of this move to digital. After all, with the right Memory Stick, I can download all these nifty new games onto my existing PSP. So, how will the PSP Go do at retail?

Says Ars Technica,

“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.

But the more important point here is this: How many people will be interested in shelling out $249 for what is basically a re-packaged PSP 3000 with no UMD drive? Sure, the Go is targeted squarely at the iPhone generation, but when you can buy a used PSP for a hundred dollars less, and Memory Sticks for way less than a hundred bucks, where’s the draw? Also, what happens to stores like Gamestop when a big box retailer, like Wal-Mart, decides to speed its sales by slashing the price?

So, to answer my own question, I don’t think the PSP Go is a miscalculation in and of itself, but I do think Sony will be very dependent on the volume of its download sales to realize their investment. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it shakes out, but I’m a bit skeptical of how the sales of the unit itself will go. Sony’s digital distribution may be the real winner in all of this though, and it could offset any sluggish sales of the hardware itself.

So, are you planning to pick up a PSP Go when it’s released this fall? If so, are you replacing a PSP you already own?

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18 Comments on Is the PSP Go a Miscalculation by Sony?

luisama

On June 15, 2009 at 8:26 pm

about the idea that in the long run with the digital distribution gamestop will vanish…
more if the big retailers that not depend in high profits from hardware sales to survive like walmart price the hardware lower than gamestop and other small shops…
well, i say its KARMA, all those greedy shops that buy cheap used games and sold them without sharing any profit to publishers or console makers are getting what they deserves…
they actually cut new game sales, much like piracy, now many would buy just used cheap games than buy new game releases and sold them to buy more cheap used games…
digital distribution is good for game consoles makers and publishers, not more sold used games or be able to sold cheap used games means gamestop, blockbuster, etc will exit the games bussiness, and god saw that it was good

Ode

On June 16, 2009 at 12:27 am

I want one but it’s to dam expensive. I love the idea though, PSP Go! And I’d be happy with a lot of variation with small games and apps like Apple do. But also we get larger full scale games that we once played on the PS1 and 2. Plus Sony have movies, T.V shows and music you can fill it up with.

You say that the Go! isn’t all that different from the UMD based PSP along with someone else’s conclusions. Yet you haven’t even touched the thing yet have you? Read some impressions of people who have played with it, they seem to like it.

By the time it does come out, all the other gadgets that the PSP Go! Is trying to compete with will have dropped in price or will drop in price to curtail sales. But then Sony wouldn’t by so inclined to lose more money, just like they do with each PS3 sold, so I expect the PSP to retain it’s new but old price point.

When the first PSP launched here in Australia, it was $429.95, I fear the PSP Go! will be the same price which will be horrific when I can buy a Wii(one/multi free game) or a 360 which costs around $250 so I could a few games as well.

Good luck Sony, I still want one though.

bizza

On June 16, 2009 at 1:32 am

i think i will be getting one because
1) they look awesome
2) they have a 16gb storage
3) you wont have to go to the shops to buy games
4) it got hd
5) i can connect stuff to it easier with bluetooth(wont have to put it on my computer AND THEN on my psp)

µ#¡8?Q

On June 16, 2009 at 8:04 am

I think its great, plenty of onboard memory, no more freaking scratched up discs, or missing games. they’ll all be on one system so i ll never lose my games. As for buying the old one and using its digital memory it will have less memory than the new psp, and eventually sony will stop making umds the same way nintendo stopped making GBA games.

NeoHumpty

On June 16, 2009 at 8:20 am

I’m guessing they will pull some sales from people that just have to have the newest thing, but it doesn’t sound like they are expecting a tidal wave of people to buy it as soon as it is out. I will stick to my 3000 and hope they start making larger memory sticks.

oldest gamer

On June 16, 2009 at 9:03 am

I think Sony is testing retailer reaction to digital distribution. Sony is a huge company that relies on retail for most of their products so they must tread carefully. Video games are just one of the many products Sony creates. The PSP Go does seem a bit expensive but it may be that Sony is compensating retailers on the hardware. Still, I do not like where we are headed. No more used games? No more sharing games between friends? I think this digital era is destroying what made these toys fun.

Jack mehoff

On June 16, 2009 at 9:16 am

Why these idioits did not add a second analog nub is beyond me they could have taken the pap to another level where you could enjoy shooter games or anything else 3d like instead they chose to render those games a pain in the ass. Take your new looking monstrosity out back and put a .223 cal round in it. Boooooooo!!!!!!

Bobby

On June 16, 2009 at 9:22 am

I have never been greatly interested in a PSP until this E3. The announcement of the PSPGo and the stellar line-up of games has made it a likely purchase for myself on release day along with GT PSP. I personally think digital distribution on a handheld is the way forward. What’s better, carrying 8-10 UMD’s around with you, or just carrying the handheld itself? I think everyone can agree the days of cartridges and discs on handhelds will be behind us sooner rather than later.

Vaschamp

On June 16, 2009 at 10:17 am

I was really excited when I heard that sony would be introducing a new PSP product. In fact I had jumped the gun and sold my old PSP on ebay In anticipation of buying a new one on day one. I must admit I was disappointed in the out come of this new product while I think they did somethings right, It by no means brought a wow factor, It’s basically the same machine in a smaller form with a hard drive and bluetooth. I can remember watching the keynote saying “Damn I have to go buy another PSP 3000″. But all that aside whats even worst is they want to charge you $249 dollars ???? Are they nuts?
I really think that Sony has no idea what consumers want, Now had this been a new product that brought more inovation and wow to the stage rather than bragging that Gran Turismo was coming to it it could have been a big hit for Sony. Now we see where all the focus on Gran turismo 5 went lol… Well I’ll just end this in saying that I am a HUGE Sony fan but I definately will not be a PSP Go owner.

hi

On June 16, 2009 at 11:16 am

The PSP Go is awful. A lot of you all seem to be forgetting these facts:

1. The PSP Go costs LESS to produce, yet is more expensive.
2. It adds NO new functionality other than bluetooth, which is cool, but not cool enough to warrant a 70 dollar price increase
3. It doesn’t upgrade the hardware (no new processor, no added ram, nothing)
4. EVERY PSP can take advantage of games being available digitally only (and yes, there are 16 gigabyte memory sticks out there for cheap, you could buy a NEW PSP 3000 and a 16 gigabyte memory stick for less than 250)
5. In an interview, Sony has explicitly said that the maximum battery life of the PSP Go is only 3-6 hours, compared to the 4-8 hours of all the other PSP’s
6. It can’t even be hacked, so no custom firmwares or homebrew games/software.

When they first showed the PSP Go at E3, I was excited and I said I would buy it. Now that I’ve read up on it, I refuse to buy an overpriced system with no decent upgrades. It boasts about its portability and is even called “Go,” being reduced in size so that it can fit in your pocket now, yet it still has a 3-6 hour battery life. It’s pointless.

meh

On June 16, 2009 at 11:55 am

The price is fine, you get 16gb along with Go, that would cost you $75 alone. I am more curious if they fixed the interlacing crap that happens in some games with the 3000 screen.
Going digital is a good news, games should be cheaper since no need to pay gamestop anymore. Cutting out the middle man is always good.

Jack mehoff

On June 16, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Still no other complaints about not adding another analog stick. Damn you people are easy to con. Now you have to go out and repurchase all the games you already bought and still can’t control the thing the way you should be able to. They could have added a phone feature not just skype and maybe people would care about this. Damn you spoiled bastages for rushing out to purchase this. No reason for them not to include a 2nd analog button for better future gaming. You guys suck

SHadowboricua

On June 16, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I am a PS3 owner and was waiting for the PSPGo announcement before getting a PSP. After learning about it, specially learning about its price and what it adds to the table, I decided to go ahead and get a PSP-3000 last week. I currently enjoying the same features offered by the PSP Go and a cheaper price. No, I wouldn’t buy it, and I am happy with my PSP-3000.

Ron Whitaker

On June 16, 2009 at 11:39 pm

I don’t understand all the comments from you guys about ‘No more UMD’s’ or ‘No need to lug discs around.’

The PSP 300 can easily match the memory of the Go, and I can have multiple sticks of memory to download all my games on. I can have 16GB of memory and a PSP 3000 for less than $250, so where’s the incentive?

If you’re all about having the newest thing, that’s fine, just don’t pretend it’s some sort of major upgrade over the 3000, because it isn’t. Plus, I don’t have to worry about my newfangled slide thingy breaking on me.

name

On June 17, 2009 at 4:56 am

the psp realy to me has only 1 must have game.
GOW chains of olympus, o and syphon filter mirrors edge and the other one cant remember the name..
ok 3.
and whats the point of the psp go?
theres not 1 posotive about it besides its smaller, but than it has a smaller screen so they cancel each other out.
batery life is the same even though they took out the power sucking UMD drive, i thought that was the whole point of a newer psp better batery life but now theve lost me.
it has no advantages bar being lighter (so what) over the 3000 and its going to have a higher price range. no thanks

Vikram

On June 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Expect Sony to rebound in microtransactions shortly with a PSP Go Phone…

I see the PSP Go and the switch to all direct download games as a stepping stone towards a Sony Ericcson PSP Phone. Yes, I too laughed at the notion of a phone competing with dedicated handheld devices.

But that’s before I found out that EA is porting the excellent Red Alert 3 over the iPhone!! Note that EA never thought it worthwhile to make a version of Red Alert for the PSP.

And then look at the news today, Sega of America’s president and CEO, Simon Jeffery, just left his position to head up the exclusive iPhone game developer ngmoco, who have a reputation of pushing the iPhone’s hardware to deliver killer app titles. Simon Jeffery is no chump. He is hailed by many gamers for his critical role in pushing through KOTOR, and many other killer app games as president of Lucas Arts.

Many many game developers who’ve commented already noted that the iPhone 3G is almost as powerful as the PSP! But the next gen device, the 3GS takes the hardware to a whole another level, it uses a next gen GPU using Open GL 2.0, a much faster CPU and has double the ram, 256 mb! Basically it’s specs blow the PSP’s out of the water (which is expected since the PSP is almost 5 years old).

Currently the 3GS is not a big deal, the iPhone has a marketshare of 50 million, same as the PSP but achieved this in just one third of the time period, but all of them own the last gen hardware. It’ll take some time for enough people to own the newer 3GS. But in an years time, I expect there to be atleast 10 million such owners, and premium games are going to be made to cater to the 3GS owners only, pushing the gaming performance to levels better than anything on current handhelds.

The sheer convenience of being able to play high quality games on a device that you always have with you, whereever you go, and can also take hiqh quality pictures, and videos, and look up directions, browse the internet and make phone calls, is not to be underestimated.

That’s why I fully expect that Sony is already feeling some heat from all the mobile game developers switching over to the iPhone development. How could it not, when the 3G is already lining up big titles like Red Alert 3, and is even getting the president of Sega and the father of KOTOR to switch over to exclusive iPhone game development.

Combine all this with the current upcry of iPhone gamers demanding someone make an iphone shell that sports TWO ANALOG NUBS and two shoulder buttons, now the the recent 3.0 firmware upgrade fully gives apps and games the ability to make use of any hardware shells made for the iPhone, and the rumors that multiple hardware makers are interested in doing just that, in order to capture the sales of the entire iPhone gaming community in one swoop.

I fully expect that Sony is already hard at work coming up with an all in one mobile device and phone, that is capable of playing all the same games that the PSP Go is capable of playing, and serving all the same functions that the iPhone is capable of serving. Don’t forget that Sony is already a major player in the phone industry with it’s beloved Sony Ericcson phones. And this Ericcson brand of phones is feeling quite a bit of heat from the iPhone’s success, same as most phone makers.

They actually should’ve released it this past E3. By making a Go phone, they could’ve put in all sorts of heavy duty features into the Go Phone like an OLED screen, a 5 megapixel camera, a 720p video camera, dual analog nubs, GPS etc, to bring up manufacturing costs to $600 (instead of $250 for the PSP Go) and still have been able to release it for FREE with a 2 year contract thanks to carrier subsidies. That would have sold like crazy, increased the PSP’s market significantly put a stop to bleeding out of the Sony Ericcson brand line marketshare to the iPhone. They also would have made huge amount of money by selling tv shows, movies, and later on apps and ebooks (something that they PSN store already offers, but doesn’t get many sales from).

It would been a huge boon to gamers as well, as they would be able to get a PSP that can do every single thing the iPhone can do, offers even more advanced features like an OLED screen, 720p video and a 5 megapixel camera, and would have been able to access the PSN store, and play games online via 3G from ANYWHERE in the world. But I think this will happen yet.

daniel

On June 19, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Maybe I dont WANT a second analog stick you idiot. If everyone on this site is so stupid why are you the only one without decent brains?

Wolf26pack

On June 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I have to Agree the PSP GO! doesn’t bring anything to the table that even the PSP-3000 can do. I have one of the original PSP-1000′s and plan to keep it. The only thing the PSP GO! does is make the screen smaller and make it a tiny bit more portable by making it smaller and not having to worry about carrying UMD’s around. The benifits are small for the consumer and big for Sony, with the PSP GO! there is no more UMD’s and like others have said there is no sharing with friends or trading in old games. (btw I’ve never traded in games or bought used games but I don’t like the choice being taken away from me)

I must say the part that worries me the most though is the thought that…

What happens when Sony decided to stop supporting certain games that aren’t selling well anymore that you have already purchased?

When they are taken off the store what do you do?

What happens when you get tired of the PSP and you go to sell it?

Will you sell your PSP GO! at a lower price then when you purchased it even with all the games you bought? or will you sell it at a higher price trying get back some of the money you spent on games that are locked to your system?

Don’t you think trying to sell your PSP with Preloaded games on it that someone may or may not like will be difficult?

In conclusion for me the PSP GO! has to many “What if” questions for me to even consider purchasing it. The price is higher and the benifits are not there. I just wish that Sony would allow older PSP model owners like myself to send there older PSP’s in so that they could be upgraded to PSP-3000 status for a minimal fee. Something like $40-$50. I would be willing to pay that price for the upgraded memory,video out,etc…etc…etc…