PSP2: Sony’s Big Announcement?

PSP2: Sony’s Big Announcement?

Nintendo lorded over the first half of January with all kinds of Nintendo 3DS news. Now Sony’s stepping up to claim the end of the month. On January 27, the company will make some announcements of its own, presumably to confirm the existence of its successor to the PlayStation Portable: The aptly-named PSP2.

If so, despite Nintendo’s earlier announcements, people are going to have a hard time ignoring the PSP2. The original PSP didn’t set the handheld gaming market on fire–not in North America, anyway–but it still commands a solid, dedicated user base. It’s currently riding second to the Nintendo DS, but with superior hardware and a large catalog of high-quality games, millions still look to it as their first choice for handheld gaming.

Two things about the PSP2 will automatically command the Internet’s attention. First, it’s rumored that the PSP2 will support 3G access for video and game downloads (but won’t include a cell phone function). That news alone raises some very important questions, mainly, which company will be carrying this 3G service? How will billing work? Will the PSP2 be a “game system,” or will it shy away from the 3DS’s market and put special emphasis on email, Facebook, Twitter, and other programs for the “grown-up on the go?”

Second, there’s a good deal of speculation and curiosity surrounding the PSP2’s price. Nintendo had a lot of grumbling directed towards it when it looked as if the 3DS would cost $299.99 USD. The confirmed price–$249.99 USD–soothed some of the bellyaching, but there are still plenty of critics who wonder if the asking price is still too high, especially considering the $30-$50 USD price tag for each game. What’s a PSP2 going to cost us? The handheld gaming market is far more competitive than it was in 2004, and people are more likely to survey the lay of the land with their hands over their checkbooks. If Sony asks for more than $249.99 for the PSP2, the game might end before it has a chance to start.

On the other hand, it’s still not clear how the PSP2 will function as a game machine. Are UMDs making a return, or will the PSP2 unveil its own take on the App Store and go shoulder-to-shoulder with the iPhone? People can be persuaded to pay a little more for a handheld game system if the games average about 99 cents each.

Long story short: January 27 will be a fun day for fans of handheld gaming.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

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