How Sony’s NGP Can Beat the Nintendo 3DS

How Sony’s NGP Can Beat the Nintendo 3DS

When Sony unveiled its Next Generation Portable (NGP), the Internet rushed to hold it up next to its immediate competitor, Nintendo’s 3DS, like a scientific specimen. Though there’s a lot that still needs to be made clear about the NGP–price included–we haven’t been able to resist speculating if Sony’s sales will sprint ahead of Nintendo’s in this coming generation of handheld video game systems.

When you look at an NGP, you can’t help but notice a similarity to the original PSP. And you automatically wonder: Will the NGP end up being second banana to the Nintendo 3DS, much the way the PSP trailed in the DS’s wake, despite the PSP’s superior hardware?

Maybe Sony hasn’t learned anything form its battle against Nintendo, but maybe the familiar-looking NGP is hiding secret potential. Maybe Sony is already smiling behind its sleeve.

For instance, the NGP’s game lineup is already very attractive. There’s Uncharted, Little Big Planet, Call of Duty, Wipeout, and more. With the exception of Little Big Planet, these are games that hold a different, almost more grown-up appeal next to Nintendo’s Pokemon games, or even the Mario franchise. The NGP’s two analogue sticks will also make playing 3D titles on Sony’s handheld a breeze, at least compared to the Nintendo 3DS’s sole circle-pad experience.

Then there’s the unique touchpad setup: A touchscreen up front, and a touchpad on the back. What can developers do with a touchpad on a game system’s er, posterior? It seems like a weird function right now, but seven years ago, we wondered what the heck developers would do with Nintendo’s goofy-looking dual-screen handheld. Within a year, we had our answer. Despite the 3DS’s 3D screen, it might be the NGP that ends up as the handheld industry’s testing ground for bold new ideas.

Then there’s the battery. Sony’s Kaz Hirai has already stated that final details on the NGP’s battery life are still forthcoming, but it looks like four to five hours of gameplay is the official guess–which is the estimated battery life for the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo’s handhelds have long been famous for economical battery usage; it’s no exaggeration to say that the seemingly primitive Game Boy triumphed over early color handhelds because the Game Gear and Lynx chewed through AA’s like starving dogs. Even the DS Lite’s battery enjoyed a long life next to the PSP’s battery, which had to power the UMD reader and thus died comparatively quickly. But now we’re entering a market where three to five hours is the norm for portable devices. Nintendo’s oldest, best-known standard for handheld gaming has been cut down, and it’s on equal ground with Sony as far as battery life goes.

Que sera sera, but if Sony has resolved to reclaim its throne, it might vault over the 3DS and find ways into the hearts and hands of portable gaming enthusiasts in the coming years.

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.

2 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t say the NGP has no chance, but I don’t find these arguments very compelling evidence. Especially the scenario you describe with the games. This is because it’s already played out on the PS3 and Wii. The PS3 already has tons of games with more “grown-up appeal” next to Nintendo’s, and that didn’t do much for the PS3. And that just might be the issue: Nintendo games appeal to all audiences (especially Super Mario Bros). Games like Uncharted and Call of Duty are fine games, but they don’t sell hardware quite as effectively as Nintendo games do (and heck, even the DS has Call of Duty).

    The touch panel is anyone’s guess. It depends on how well games use it, and developers who feel like they have to use it probably probably won’t come up with much good. Could be some innovative stuff, but could also be a bunch of niche Japanese witch touching games.

    And as for batteries, if the NGP’s battery is like the PSP’s and goes dead after a week of disuse, it’ll be a joke. The PSP is not known for its efficient battery, and since that’s one area Sony is being quiet on, it doesn’t bode too well.

    I think the only real shot Sony has is pricing it competitively against the 3DS. But considering it has more technology than most $400-500 smart phones, that seems like a long shot. I won’t write them off, but Sony still seems to believe that games are fueled by technology, not entertainment.

  2. PSPS NGP will have a quad core CPU and a quad core GPU. That’s enough for me to buy it. Can’t wait to see what homebrewers come up with.

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