EA's Warren Wall talks PSP launch, wireless play

The brain behind Electronic Arts' PSP titles spills some tantalizing details on the PSP's wireless link play and launch titles planned for the US and Japan.


In an interview posted on Electronic Arts' Web page this morning, the executive producer of EA's PSP development team let loose a barrage of insider info related to the upcoming portable hardware. Team Fusion head Warren Wall talked about some of the games that will be present at the launch of the PSP in both Japan and the US, and he compared the PSP's functionality--like its wireless head-to-head play--to that of the Nintendo DS.

According to Wall, EA will ship Need for Speed Underground Rivals and Tiger Woods PGA Tour in Japan "before the end of the year," though not necessarily on the system's launch day. In the US, EA promises "updated versions" of NFSUR and Tiger Woods, as well as NBA Street, NFL Street, and "a couple more titles that have yet to be revealed." Wall skirted the issue of whether all these titles would be available day-and-date with the system.

Discussing Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Wall emphasized a feature that he would return to again and again in the interview: head-to-head multiplayer via Wi-Fi. Besides the ability to link two PSP systems wirelessly, Wall teased about "an entirely new match format exclusive to PSP" but did not provide details. Similarly, NFSUR will feature gameplay modes exclusive to the PSP for both single- and multiplayer. In general, Wall said, the games "have been tailored for the PSP in nearly every way."

"Sony has made Wi-Fi play really simple on the PSP," said Wall. "Players need to just flip a switch on the side of the machine to enable/disable the feature. When it's turned on, players will just select a head-to-head play mode, and the game will automatically detect other players with the same game in the area. It is as easy as a two-player matchup on a home console."

On the subject of connectivity between the PSP and the PS2, Wall said that Team Fusion is considering using the feature in upcoming titles, but, again, he provided no details or examples.

As the interview closed, Wall compared the PSP to the Nintendo DS. "They are both really interesting," he said, "but they are completely different machines, aimed at different consumers, for a different experience." Wall pointed out that the Nintendo DS's two screens and touch input allow for "an entirely new way to play," while the PSP allows EA to "push the envelope graphically" as well as "introduce players to new ways of challenging each other using Wi-Fi."

Curiously, Wall did not mention the fact that Nintendo DS multiplayer is also carried out through such a wireless link functionality, which is something that EA's launch titles for the system (next month) will all feature.

Team Fusion is the division of Electronic Arts devoted entirely to PSP development. Based in the same physical location as EA Canada, the team employs about 150 designers who are dedicated to producing first-generation software for the system.


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