As many, if not all, know by now, the successor of the PSP (Playstation Portable), codenamed the NGP (Next Generation Portable) was announced by Sony as the next line of PGH (Portable Gaming Hardware) for HCG (Hardcore Gamers), which could make the next few years very interesting for the VGI (Video Games Industry).
And yes, I'll stop with the acronyms now.
I've had time to sit on this for a week or so. but I couldn't shake this rather odd, somewhat uneasy feeling. It's not an issue with the hardware, since it is by far one of the most impressive pieces of gaming tech in terms of graphical power and in the sheer amount of creative power it could incite, with its numerous touch capabilities and its ability to touch the very soul of those who come across it.
Nor is it a software issue. Despite a number of issues the PSP had when it came to have a robust library, there are a number of games that came out on the system that could easily be better on the NGP. The announcements of previous PSP games being remade for NGP also seems like a great idea, since some popular games on PSP are considered devisive due to the systems lack of a second analog stick.
Not only do remade versions of Monster Hunter and Metal Gear games sound like a win, but the numerous popular brands that didn't find success in the PSP (Call of Duty) or altogether skipped that system can find a new home and possibly a new avenue to distribute their merch.
Yes, my friends, the problem seems to be with the one variable that we can't account for at this very moment: Price.
And trust me, I've read through numerous news posts, blogs and stories how the price can be anywhere between $200 - $500 because of x, y and z. I've also listened to the "special" podcasts that cover this breaking news and their opinions on such.
And honestly, the eventual price, whether it is $200 or $500 or anything in between, doesn't entirely bother me either.
No, what gets me is that no one is asking the question that only people seem to ask around E3 time: What does this mean for the new next generation consoles?
Confused? OK, so let's explain a few things.
Before the announcement of the NGP, The 3DS made a huge splash in E3 and made the announcement of the price and release date of the system itself: $250; coming late March.
At this point, Sony has lost tons of money in not only its console but in its portable by lack of sales, cost of system and with piracy.
With Nintendo making money on day one with both the Wii and the DS, Nintendo is taking a risk with the 3DS since it's reportedly operating on a loss with its first run of 3DS'. Sony could do what Nintendo did this generation and create a portable that is cheap, cost-effective and add the one thing everyone was asking for (Dual Analog Sticks) and would have been fine with near iPhone/iPad graphics.
As you can tell, Sony didn't do that. Sony decided to, instead, be that pathetic friend that everyone knows who did something wrong to somebody and just bombard them with gifts. You know the guy: "Oh, you want Roses? Sure! And have Chocolate! And have Jewelry! And have this car! Why? Cuz I need you back so badly!!"
What's with Sony and giving us everything and the kitchen sink, yet again? It's quite simple, really: It's the rope-in effect. Sony won the past two generations by giving us superfulous additions into a gaming console to get our attention, come up with one game that could make our eyes melt and our mouths salivate and then make several games like that one game until we all realize...well, it's the same damn thing I've been playing since that game that got me in this system in the first place.
(And yes, I was saying Final Fantasy VII)
The NGP is your PS3, Xbox 360, iPod Touch and possibly iPad all rolled into one with the "POWER OF THE PLAYSTATION BRAND!!!!"
...which honestly, hasn't had that much "power" since the PS1 era. (Go ahead and say PS2, but we all know if Grand Theft Auto III didn't become the blow-up, drag down hit it was, the GameCube would have kicked so much ass, right?!)
(...right?) [Edit Note: The Gamecube comment was sarcastic...jeez people]
Which leads back to the price. What is so significant about the price of this system? The price, in essence, could signify the beginning or the estimated time table of the next generation of consoles. How so?
If the price hits the $200 - $300 range, Sony is taking a definite price hit for this system and may need to recoup on this investment fast. Barring that the system doesn't have a multi billion dollar seller that takes Monster Hunter and Call of Duty and turns it into a sports game that is fun for the whole family and has crazy animals running into brick walls, Sony may be considering this to be a stopgap for an inevitable bigger launch, to recoup those costs.
If the system hits between $200 and $300, as soon as E3 will we hear about the new generation platform and by early next year will it be released. Sony needs to then release asystem that is "Wii-like" but has hardcore gaming ties for the first two years in order to recoup the initial investment, then come up with some kind of marketing strategy to get more software push and a bigger install base.
Of course, this is a huge image shift."It Only Does Everything" is thrown out the window and Sony needs to come up with something ingenious to rope as many people in as possible.
if the price hits $400, it reaches the price point not of a gaming handheld but of a multi-use device, such as an iPod Touch or Tablet. This price could also be used just to make the system feel much more elite in the eyes of hardcore gamers, which would up the demand significantly while Sony makes limited quantities of the system itself. They would eseentially pull a "high demand/low supply" run, while they wait an additional year to research and develop a new console.
However, right out of the gate, Sony needs to show that its much more than just a game system, which it could very well do. This is still problematic because it could show the weakness of the NGP right out of the gate, that it can't exactly be an iPad or iPhone.
If it's $500+, then Sony is trying to do as much of a recoup on all systems that come out as possible and trying to distinguish the NGP as not an add-on ora suppliment of their games division, but as a wholly owned system filled with unique features.
The PSP had one big problem: This overall feeling that, in the U.S., it was a rather superfulous system. Nearly all games that came out on the PSP could have easily been made on all consoles, which to some was a strength but to others a major weakness.
Sure, the system can still be this and be priced at much less, but if Sony is getting more money out of the system in its initial run and investment, the more they will want to put more R&D into creating games that utilize its system and its features.
The NGP looks like a very impressive system to have in your hands...but honestly, why would you spend $300 on a little portable PS3 when you can have the PS3 lock, stock and barrel for the same price? And wouldn't spending more on the same thing be absolute overkill?
In the next 12 months, Sony could land some impressive properties that will make it less like a PS3 mini and more like a bona-fide piece of hardware, but if the price ends up being more than a 3DS, it is a tough sell, especially with it being released with limiited software support (unless you bought your games digitally on the PSP, which if you did I have two things to say to you: "I'm sorry" and "Why did you buy a PSPgo?")
But there is this uneasy feeling I have and it's simply this: The NGP may just be the start of a new generation...whether we are ready or not.
Feel free to comment on the bottom, I will respond to everyone's comments. Also, if I feel it should be spotlighted, I'll edit this post and add your comments to the top.
A lot of you have commented on the fact that the PS2 had more system sellers than GTA3 and I'm more than inclined to agree with all of you. But, as great as Final Fantasy X, Metal Gear Solid 2, Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank and all of the great games the PS2 had, they didn't have the pull or the attention that brought the massive amount of sales that Grand Theft Auto 3 had.
If it wasn't for Grand Theft Auto 3, we'd have a strong debate on whether the Xbox and the PS2 was the best system of that generation...actually, we'd probably be ending that generation around last year if that was the case.
I'm actually surprised about all the comments being biased since I haven't said one word about a system being awesome or failing lol.
Anyway, since it seems that a lot of people are taking the Gamecube comment seriously, I thought I'd clarify that it was actually supposed to be a humorous dig at the Gamecube. Apparently, I was the only who got the joke.
I guess writing humor and sarcasm is harder than I thought lol.