Under the Hood: PSP Load Times

Let's face it. The PSP suffers from horrendous load times. But just how bad are they?

by

Loading is a four-letter word.

When you play a video game, you'll always have to wait for the game to load. From the moment you turn on your PlayStation or Xbox, you'll wait. Sometimes you might wait a few seconds, other times you might change the channel and watch a little golf. You'll even fruitlessly mash buttons in attempt to make the loading screens go by faster. When the game finally finishes loading, you might get to play some of it, and then you'll see another loading screen. It makes you wonder, when developers claim that a game has 40 hours worth of gameplay in it - do they factor in the time you spend staring out into space?

Recently, the PSP caught some heat for its inordinately long load times. Some users even posted videos on the Internet describing their experiences. One game in particular drew lots of ire: WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006. The game takes multiple minutes to start a match, regardless of whether you want to use a custom play mode or simply want a quick match. Long load times aren't anything new; but when you combine them with portable devices, they're sure to press a few buttons (pun intended).

We're certain that most of the issues arise from the UMD media and the optical drive. The PSP has to spin up the drive, seek across the disc, and load the data. All of these actions require large amounts of time in comparison to Nintendo's cartridge based system.

In the interests of gaming science, we decided to find out how long it takes the PSP to move you from a dull glassy eyed stare to actively playing. We tried to test every game currently out for the PSP, but instead had to settle for all the games we could get our mitts on. In the end, we managed to include over 80 games in the article, which should make for a good representative batch. Our tests showed that very few games could load up in under a minute. Many games took two or even three minutes. One game took four minutes to load - WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006.

Testing Methodology

To ensure that we obtained reliable data, we measured the load time of each game from the moment we powered up the PSP to the point where we were actually playing the game. Where necessary, we quickly proceeded through the menu structure of each game, loading saved games, or choosing the quick-play option where possible. We ran each test two times and averaged the results.

Our tests have, at the minimum, an error of plus or minus three seconds. With each run, the speed at which we navigated through the game's menu structure changed slightly. Another source of error arises from our ability to start and stop the timer accurately while watching the PSP.

Additional Notes

The PSP has a standby mode that lets you boot a game up very quickly, but every user will have to start the game from scratch at least once, if not many times, if they change games often. We chose not to test the standby mode, as most games booted up within a handful of seconds with this feature.

If you have a PSP, how long do your games take to load? What about the games from your other handhelds or consoles?

PSP Load Time Results

Graphically simple games, such as Lumines and Gradius, have some of the shortest loading times. The longest load times belong to the sports category. WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006 took an astonishing four minutes to load, topping the next-slowest game by a full minute.

Before we even got to the loading screens, we noticed that many games had an inordinate amount of splash screens that we couldn't skip. Each splash screen would generally add a few seconds to the load time.

Load Times Organized by GameSpot Ratings

If we break down the games according to their GameSpot ratings, we see that the best-rated games have the lowest average load times. Average load times also trend upward as review scores drop. Once we dig down to games rated 6.9 and below, the average load time drops considerably, breaking away from the prevailing trend.

Genre Load Times

Broken down across genres, we see that sports games take much longer to load. Racing games follow behind by a wide margin, and the rest cluster much closer together, loading at under a minute and a half.

Sony PSP vs Nintendo DS vs Nintendo GBA

We didn't have the time to test a great deal of DS or GBA games, but from the random few we tested, we're more than certain that both of Nintendo's handhelds load games much quicker than the PSP. Much of Nintendo's speed comes from the solid-state nature of its games. Cartridges in general will have lower load times in comparison to optical discs, but the trade-offs are numerous, storage capacity considerations chief among them. UMDs can hold vast amounts of storage in comparison to both DS and GBA cartridges. Game developers can use the extra space for larger textures, which results in better graphics, and a host of other features like speech or full motion video.

We tested the following games for the Nintendo DS: Nintendogs: Chihuahua and Friends, Kirby: Canvas Curse, MechAssault: Phantom War, Tetris DS, Mario Hoops 3 on 3, Lost In Blue, and Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team. We also tested the following GBA games on the Nintendo DS: Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.

Conclusion

PSP games take a long time to load. Hardly any PSP games took less than a minute to load and quite a few took two or more. To be fair, once you manage to get past the initial load time, subsequent loads from standby mode are much quicker. Booting a game from standby generally takes a handful of seconds. However, this doesn’t mean you won't see further, rather lengthy loading screens once you're in the game.

If you have a PSP, how long do your games take to load? What about the games from your other handhelds or consoles?

PSP Load Time Results by Game

GamesSeconds
2006 FIFA World Cup122
Ape Escape Academy64
Ape Escape: On the Loose97
Archer Maclean's Mercury95
Armored Core: Formula Front109
Astonishia Story51
ATV Offroad Fury: Blazin' Trails158
Bomberman90
Bounty Hounds95
Burnout Legends109
Bust-A-Move Deluxe60
Cars89
Coded Arms86
Crash Tag Team Racing114
Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower96
Daxter84
Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai80
Exit87
Field Commander105
FIFA 06114
FIFA Soccer133
Fight Night Round 3108
Frogger Helmet Chaos76
From Russia With Love94
Generation of Chaos71
Go! Sudoku81
Gradius Collection54
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories71
GripShift64
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire129
Lemmings80
LocoRoco115
Lumines55
Madden NFL 06150
Madden NFL 07118
Major League Baseball 2K6165
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects107
Me and My Katamari92
Mega Man Powered Up72
Metal Gear Acid 286
Miami Vice: The Game87
Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition170
MLB105
MTX Mototrax122
MVP Baseball135
MX vs. ATV Unleashed: On the Edge135
NASCAR85
NBA Ballers: Rebound185
NBA Live 06104
NBA Street Showdown130
NCAA Football 07105
Need for Speed Most Wanted 5-1-082
Need for Speed Underground Rivals93
NFL Street 2 Unleashed152
OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast67
PoPoLoCrois84
Race Driver 2006132
Samurai Warriors: State of War85
Spider-Man 294
Star Wars: Battlefront II119
Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX95
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror106
Tekken: Dark Resurrection75
Tiger Woods PGA Tour75
Tokobot64
Tony Hawk's Underground 2 Remix126
Twisted Metal: Head-On90
Ultimate Block Party75
Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins66
Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade95
Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble89
Virtua Tennis: World Tour80
Wipeout Pure95
World Championship Poker 2: Featuring Howard Lederer160
World Poker Tour160
World Soccer Winning Eleven 9154
World Tour Soccer 06104
Worms: Open Warfare76
WRC: FIA World Rally Championship135
WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006245
X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse135
Ys: The Ark of Napishtim87

If you have a PSP, how long do your games take to load? What about the games from your other handhelds or consoles?

Discussion

784 comments
Cody13_2012
Cody13_2012

Crisis Core has major load problems. It took around 30-45 seconds for some missions to load. I had a couple of missions that wouldn't load on my psp, I had to use my brothers psp 2000 instead of my 1000.

leroys4
leroys4

midnight club 3 takes way to long to load even on a slim

ACE6128
ACE6128

I just ordered my first PSP so I haven't played it yet but I have seen one played and played on so I don't see anything wrong with waiting 1 minute to 1 1/2 minutes to play a game. but I do agree that waiting 4 minutes to play 1 match!!! That is horrible!!!

Dantefan1
Dantefan1

most of my games have pretty reasonable load times. my worst is Untold Legends, which can take a minute to load sometimes, but its also a launch game, so that's to be expected. the only other 1 that bothers me is silent hill: origins, and they're not any worse than console load times, but it really hurts the whole "entranced by the horror" vibe when it stops every time u go thru a door. i used to have a DS lite, and there were little to no load times at all, obviously, because it plays cartridges, not discs. and DS has awesome games. regardless, while psp doesnt have as many incredible games as DS, it does have plenty to keep any gamer satisfied. the library's not great, but its enough for any one person.

xbox360progamer
xbox360progamer

yeah i love my psp but the games are either really weak or not that many...

megadisc
megadisc

PSP ROCKS man but still lacking in the games title

ali-009
ali-009

i think the orignal psp SUCKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dylankay94
dylankay94

me and my friend compared with gta vice city stories, and the psp slim had loaded before the origional hadnt loadded at all. the slims loading bar was full, the orrigional was emapty!

mastodonfatguy
mastodonfatguy

if u have a hacked phat psp like me sum how all games umds or isos load wayyyy faster . including old games. but hey remember how slow ps2 used to load at first? its the same thing here. they just need time

Omega_Zero69
Omega_Zero69

mgs portable ops and ops + dont take to long

naju890
naju890

shin budukai 2 takes time to laod

RakinR
RakinR

thats one thing the psp has to fix, the dam load times

bcm823
bcm823

well psp is really becoming so popular game... i wanna buy one XD

The_Stalker01
The_Stalker01

Its like 200 times faster with the slim :P (more RAM I guess..)

j-tron
j-tron

Guitaroo man takes a really long time to load

darren42320
darren42320

I dont have a psp yet but i have played many games on one...I play on my friends psp and never have a problem with load times :)

guile_charlie
guile_charlie

The only games I play on PSP are Tekken: Dark Resurrection and SFAlpha 3 Max, and they are among the shortest load times, especially Tekken! 75 and 95 respectively! Yeah! The new PSP loads much faster than the older models because of the increased internal memory (RAM).

MorfilmarPSP
MorfilmarPSP

hmm old psp loads faster right? i'm glad i have that one, i have no problem with most games, load times are all under 1 minute though Dungeon Siege might take 30 seconds for a map to load. But then when you watch Tales of Eternia it takes about 3 seconds to load world map/dungeons/ and even less then 1 second for the battle.

cipher_zero
cipher_zero

i've got no problem with my slim it's incredibly fast!

davenumba2
davenumba2

well, you have to weigh in the fact that all these tests were done w/ the old PSP's, not the new PSP's that cut down loading screen time significantly

DarCowAlways
DarCowAlways

Yeah well, PSP offers superior CPU speeds, video processing, screen clarity, multimedia functions, internet connectivity, screen size, screen colors available, storage, size for games, and more. My PSP games take seconds to load, and the DS takes a very comparable time to start too. I've got all three systems, and I don't notice any real difference. Hey, which system won in the past- the PS, with it's CDs, or the N64, with it's cartridges. Don't get me started.

sscooby2u
sscooby2u

As mentioned by other posters, it seems like your comparing apples and oranges rather than apples and apples when you talk about load time comparisons between the PSP and the DS. The PSP has superior graphics and gameplay which can be directly attributed to its disc based design, this obviously takes more data and in some cases longer load times. If you want shorter load times at the sacrifice of the graphics, voice overs, length of games..etc. then the DS would be a good choice based on its cartridge based design. You also sacrifice the ability to enjoy your own movies, music, and until recently access to the internet ( and for that privilege on the DS you have to spend an extra $35 on a browser which must be purchased seperately ). Sorry you guys just pressed a button when you included the DS comparison. I just don't expect to get that in an article titled "PSP load times". I would whole heartedly read, and expect it, in an article comparing the PSP and DS systems. Peace Out

Pokemon4lif
Pokemon4lif

this story isnt all true...most of my games load in less than a minute... and in one case my starwars renagade squadron game loads in less than 15 seconds. too bad for you other guys!!!! ; P

zero5link
zero5link

i have fifa world cup and xmen legends and their load times r very short 4 me

abbnormmal
abbnormmal

my PSP hunts and eats other PSPs. Thats what takes so long.

crusender
crusender

i read lot of comment, hmmm that make me remember PS vs N64 loading time fight.

1Lung
1Lung

i dont think people will ever be completly happy with video games, it seems no matter how good the graphics get, the gameplay is, sound or all together, someones gonna find *something* not too like about it for one reason or another. u have the long load times cause it has to read the dat a off the umd and GBA and DS are CARTRIDGES, which means no moving parts, less load times but less game ( ie, speech, 3d graphics, etc.) so either play ds, gba and have good gameplay for some games ( zelda, pokemon, metroid ) or play your psp wait a little longer, and have that much better of a game.

spellbinder22
spellbinder22

why is everyone saying: "My psp takes onjy XX seocnds to load". ITS NOT YOUOR PSP, ITS THE GAMES. just because u say ur psp loads fast doessnt make it special. They r all the same thing.. and i like my psp but sometimes u just have to face it "PSP NEEDS BETTER GAMES AND DOESNT HAVE GOOD LOADING TIME"...the only game i actually had fun with no loading problems is Daxter, SF: DR, takken and marvel nemisis and hopefully MKU...

redeyesamurai
redeyesamurai

As for racing games, Initial D only takes about 10-15 seconds to load a race. Not too shabby.

drewwerd1313
drewwerd1313

forever, im gonna just lug my ps3 around eveywhere when it comes out.

stevensnewest
stevensnewest

it takes me a minute to start gta: lcs and my other games!!! :wink:

zacmoss
zacmoss

When I play GTA LCS, it only takes about 10-20 seconds to load before you're playing.

dragonfire115
dragonfire115

well personally i havent had much problem with the waiting period but then again, i havent had the psp for a while and i heard alot of bad comment on Monster hunter, good game, but long waits and pointless quests in game, im trying to find a good PSP RPG, a good point in direction could help you know peace

robotdeer
robotdeer

I bought my PSP a year ago, I buy a game once every few months usually play them for about a day or two and never pick them up again, the system could be so much better if there were good games on it, and they could cut load times down... also I hate having to plug it in all the time... its portable... why do I have to be stuck to a wall so much, I think I am going to sell it soon. It was just a big waste of money.

Xavdidtheshadow
Xavdidtheshadow

I have a DS, and while I haven't spent much time with the PSP, the load times listed do seem a bit large... On the other hand, most of my DS load wtihin 10 seconds....

rl_41
rl_41

I love my psp too much to notice load times... you can just stare at it through the whole loading time, its so impressive

Dylanskates
Dylanskates

My PSP doesn't take that long at all.

kickflip613
kickflip613

ok you people definding the psp, i own both the psp and nintendo DS and i can tell you that the psp is a better system hardware wise, but DS is a better system software wise, plus touch screen =) and just so u know, the psp doesnt have many good games coming out for it, which sucks, it has a couple good games a year, where as DS has 20 or so outstanding games a year, which is why DS sells more units, and makes more money then the psp, but none the less i still own the psp, and i think it does have some great games, grand theft auto liberty city stories, amazing, and with GTA vice city stories coming out, prolly one of the only reasons i kept my psp and didnt sell it, well yea as for load times, psp blows, and all that has to do with the software, that is determined by the developers that make the game, so dont blame sony, or anyone else but the game developer forload times!

VanGriffin
VanGriffin

To Akruan Defending a PSP? Hardly. what most of these comments are saying is the load times posted here are extremely judgmental, overstated, and wrong. And your price structure is also outdated.

VanGriffin
VanGriffin

This is Garbage. I own a lot of those games and those number are WAY overstated. Who on earth did these "tests"? Don't own Smackdown so can't judge that one, Maybe you should make your article about the the Updates and DevHook. than scaring people with this crap.

necomo
necomo

i dont know i have a nfs most wanted it takes secs to load from umd but i dont know now i load my games from the memory stick and it takes secs to load WWE Smack Down! vs. RAW 2006

methedemon
methedemon

This article is BS and full of crap, remove it GS and stop being so ****** biased

turimoster
turimoster

I don't own a PSP, and load times around five times quicker for the DS makes me cringe at what owning a PSP must be like from those results, as the 25 second avarage for the DS doesn't actually feel that fast when I'm playing DS games. In fact, I grow impatient of how long it takes to get going on Animal Crossing: Wild World. Having timed it myself (total nerd, I know) it was 35 seconds. It seems like ages to me. There have been a few angry comments... and I don't see why. However incorrect the results may be (and there is a disclaimer before the test stating that this may be the case), calls for foul play are not necessary. In fact, the defensive manner of many comments seems as if the PSP may be vulnerable to tests like this, for whatever reason. It's just a test, and do your own if you're not happy with the one Gamespot has done. You are acting as if they are stating that those are the official load times above. Not for one second do I believe a game takes 4 minutes to load though. The PSP is a powerful piece of kit, so it will naturally take long to load things, but not that long, surely?

gamemasterchief
gamemasterchief

I agree... this is an article written with a biased agenda. What crack was the writer on when measuring these load times? Granted, the PSP is slow-loading, and some of the games do take way to long, but I call a major "shennanigans" based on the Tekken load time in the article. It's at least half as much as what is claimed by the article. GameSpot, get your facts straight before posting a BS piece of "research" like this. Remember, crack is whack.

NFunspoiler
NFunspoiler

Does this include the introduction to the game? Like how they usually have some sort of movie showing off the characters into the game and whatnot.

shatter003
shatter003

make a backup and run it from memory card. it works so much faster and better and now that 4mb card are available you can have a few games on it . but only if on certin firmware :(