TOKYO--In an interview with Impress Game Watch, Sony Computer Entertainment's chief of network system department Izumi Kawanishi confirmed that the PSP will be capable of both downloading games via wireless LAN and playing them off a Memory Stick.
Whether Sony will take advantage of the functionality in the early period after the handheld's release is another issue entirely, but the capability can allow the company to distribute game demos in a similar fashion to what Nintendo announced at the Nintendo DS press event last week.
"It is technically possible" for the PSP to download games and save them on the Memory Stick," said Kawanishi. "But we want to push the Universal Media Disc (UMD) in the beginning, so we will start off with the release of games on disc."
Kawanishi noted the UMD, as used in the PSP, is a read-only medium, meaning any data recording will have to involve the use of a Memory Stick. He went on to confirm that saved gameplay data for PSP games will also be recorded on the Memory Stick. And since data on the Memory stick can be accessed by connecting the PSP to a PC via USB ports, you'll be able to copy your saved data to your PC and can retrieve it whenever you want.
While this sounds like a welcoming invitation to users who want to hack their game data, Kawanishi mentioned that SCE will be taking steps to prevent such occurrences.
Later in the interview, Kawanishi noted that SCE is planning to give the PSP a resume function so that the player can stop playing the game at any time, and he or she can then continue from that state later on. "It can really be done in software," commented Kawanishi. "The game developers can make and use their own various resume systems [in their games]. We're also planning to include a resume function on the PSP's internal software [firmware]."
Kawanishi confirms that the PSP will be able to run massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, which was first hinted late last month when SCE updated its PSP game lineup, listing a to-be-named MMORPG as one of its titles in development. "Network games will be no problem," commented Kawanishi. "They can be produced just like the ones for the PlayStation 2."
When asked what would happen if the UMD is ejected while a game is running, Kawanashi answered that while it is not something users should do, there wouldn't be major issues. "The lid can be opened at any time, and what happens [to the game after that] can be controlled by the software," commented Kawanishi. "It's the same structure as the PlayStation or PlayStation 2. With most PlayStation 2 games, you can continue playing the game again once you close the disc tray."
For movie UMDs, Kawanishi comments that SCE is planning to give UMDs a region lock that follows the current industry standard, such as DVD-video.
Kawanishi, like every other Sony executive, avoided making specific comments on the PSP's battery life. He did state that the handheld can play back a full-length feature film and still have battery power left over. Charging the battery will be done by connecting the PSP to an AC adapter, and, interestingly, you'll be able to play games while the battery is being charged.
Kawanishi stated that battery charge time should be similar to that of modern mobile phones (average mobile phones in Japan recharge in fewer than two hours). Additional batteries will be available for purchase separately for the PSP, which uses a detachable battery rather than an internal battery. Kawanishi says that SCE decided to go with a detachable battery because the user can simply swap it out when its power supply runs low.