Gut Reactions - PSP Launch News

Several GameSpot editors comment on Sony's announcement relating to the PSP's price point and launch date.

After a puzzling and protracted silence on the issue, Sony Computer Entertainment America has finally announced a launch date, pricing, and a list of launch titles for its upcoming PSP handheld system. Click the button below to read today's breaking news. This feature is a collection of initial reactions by various members of the GameSpot staff.

Greg Kasavin/Executive Editor

"That pricing's a lot higher than I thought, but I think I know why. All the facts suggest to me that Sony is dismissing Nintendo as a direct competitor.

I think Sony's delayed the actual decision about US pricing for as long as possible to survey the Nintendo DS's follow-through and to be able to react to it accordingly. In Japan, the two systems launched much more closely together, so it's understandable that Sony would have tried to match Nintendo's pricing at that time. But now the dust has settled on the DS launch, and it's becoming clearer and clearer that there hasn't been much follow-through after the initial rush precipitated by the DS's release. So, I figure Sony thinks it can conduct business on its own terms, while more or less discounting the DS.

The other thing is, Sony's probably noticed common themes in feedback about the PSP, and one of them must certainly be about how sleek and sexy a device it is. Comparisons between the PSP and the iPod are common, and Apple succeeded at marketing the iPod as sort of a premium product: You felt special to get one. You had to pay a pretty steep price to make it yours, but it was worth it. I think the PSP could easily succeed along the same lines. Yeah, I wish it was cheaper than $250 (I wish the PSP--and everything else--was free and that there was peace and harmony in the world, and a bunch of other crap), and I think $50 for its games sounds awfully steep. But do I think it's worth it? Hell, yes! I already imported one for about that much and have been happily playing it ever since. In fact, I just barely missed beating my high score in Lumines yesterday."

Jeff Gerstmann/Senior Editor

"It's more than I expected, but it's still a feasible price. Personally, I always expected Sony to just gangster its way into the handheld market by pricing the PSP at $149. Why not just take it to Nintendo at full blast, right from day one, right? But I suppose the $250 price makes a little more sense. An iPod mini costs $250, after all, and that thing's a frickin' phenomenon. Plus, the Nintendo DS may have sold well over the holidays, but with a weak batch of software already out and the next batch not looking so hot, either (how do you mess up something as simple as WarioWare?), the PSP-DS competition sort of seems like a nonfactor at this point. But enough about comparing the two systems. Taken on its own, the PSP is easily worth 250 bones, even if you were only going to use it as a portable video player. When you factor in that it plays games, many of which we already know to be totally rad, the 250 bucks starts to sound like a deal.

How about that list of games, eh? That's a thick launch list, and even now they're claiming these 24 titles are going to be for the "launch window." I'd actually expect somewhere around 12 to 15 games to be in stores on March 24. I've already played the heck out of Darkstalkers, Lumines, and Ridge Racer, but I'm still interested to see if they make the transition to the US fully intact. I'm sure they probably will. As for stuff I haven't already played a ton of yet, I think Untold Legends looks rad, and games like Wipeout Pure, NBA Street Showdown, and THUG2 Remix seem to be quickly burrowing their ways into my skull, too.

With its lengthy list of great games, sleek design, and useful media features, the PSP is an extremely desire-worthy piece of hardware. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

Alex Navarro/Associate Editor

"The first thing that ran through my head when I read the announcement about the Sony launch price point was, 'OK, great. So what's the price if I don't want all that other crap?' Seriously, forced bundles are the bane of my existence, and this one barely even seems like an actual bundle. Things like an AC adapter, battery pack, soft case, and headphones really ought to just be a given, right? Guess not. And why the hell do I need a free UMD (Universal Media Disc) copy of Spider-Man 2? So I can play it and go, 'Yep, that's Spider-Man 2 alright. I sure do already own this on DVD.' I think I'm really missing the 'value' portion of that 'Value Pack' title.

But, ultimately, I guess it doesn't matter. The launch lineup is a strong one, it would seem, and frankly, an extra $50 isn't going to deny me that ivory backscratcher I've been pining for if I opt to pick up a PSP at launch. For what the system has, $250 isn't the worst price in the world (it's actually still pretty cheap considering what it must cost to make those damned things); it just isn't the most competitive price, either...especially if Sony really wants to pry Nintendo fans away from their beloved DSes and Game Boys."

Bob Colayco/Features Editor

"The pricing is disappointing when you think about what the PSP costs in Japan: under $200. Sony really pulled the rug from under us North American consumers. The only so-called value-added item I can see in the box is the 32MB Memory Stick, which is utterly ridiculous. What am I going to do with a 32MB Memory Stick? Load six MP3s on it? If you look on any pricing search engine, you can buy a 1GB Memory Stick Pro Duo for only $125, which will actually hold a feature length movie and a good number of MP3s. The 32MB one is about as useful as the 8MB flash card that comes with a digital camera. You know, the one that holds eight pictures? Oh! I forgot that Spider-Man 2 is included on UMD. Who cares?! If I did care, I'd do what everyone else is going to do: rip my DVD to computer and then load it onto a Memory Stick.

The good news is that there's going to be a hearty lineup of launch games on the PSP that I'm interested in playing, which is a lot more than can be said about the Nintendo DS's lineup...months after that system's debut. Ape Escape, Lumines, NBA Street Showdown, Untold Legends, and Wipeout Pure all look like compelling games. But despite a clear advantage in software, Sony is missing a golden opportunity here to jab a hot knife into Nintendo's complete dominance over this market. Or is it? I'm going to buy a PSP anyway, despite being annoyed at its price. And that right there tells you why Sony priced its unit the way it did. Because Sony can."

Avery Score/Assistant Editor, Mobile Games

"In our Game of the Year Awards, we called Sony's offering of the PSP for 19,800 yen ($185 US) the biggest news of 2004. We naturally assumed this would correlate to a similar price on US shores, which seemed like the sort of thing capable of wiping the perpetually wide-eyed, smirking expression from Shigeru Miyamoto's pedomorphic face. What we didn't count on is that Sony's executives, to use a term coined by the current holder of our national executive office, are a bunch of 'freedom haters.'

Freedom is about not having to drop a massive wad of cash for the privilege of buying a 'Value Pack,' which includes a host of Sony products that may or may not be of interest to a given consumer. Being forced to buy more than you bargained for can rarely be described as a 'value.' Of course, the lucky first million get a free UMD copy of Spider-Man 2! Now we can watch our Sony-published films on our Sony console with our Sony headphones! This Value Pack is sounding more and more like a mugging. At least when you have your cash literally stolen, you don't feel like a piece of consumer cattle.

It's hard to not be resentful of a populace that's effectively getting its PSPs for 50 fewer dollars than we. Was the theory that the Japanese population is more likely to notice that its square buttons don't work properly? Is this restitution for the flying UMD issues that cropped up in the PSP launch units? Whatever the reason, I am supremely displeased.

Were it not for the region encoding of UMD movies, as well as prohibitive shipping costs, it might make sense to simply import the device. You'd be saving more pride than actual cash, but that's nonetheless an interesting situation. I can't think of a single other instance when hardware has been cheaper to import from Japan than to purchase domestically. I thought hardware was supposed to get cheaper over time, not more expensive. For example, I bought my first-gen PlayStation 2 in Japan for around $400. I was later ridiculed by friends who picked up the system for much cheaper...and who didn't end up playing the Bouncer 50 times until real games started coming out. Come to think of it, that was another time Sony screwed me over! Dammit!"

I'll still buy a PSP, but I'll scowl as I do so. Hopefully, the cashier will note my displeasure, and Sony reps will be somehow notified. Call it trickle-down scowling."

What's Your Take?

How do you feel about today's pricing and launch lineup news? Is the system worth it? Are you going to pick one up or not? Why? Let your thoughts be known! Talk about it on the forums with other readers, by clicking on the button below.

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