NGP vs Xperia Play: Too Confusing?

NGP vs Xperia Play: Too Confusing?

Sony has two big plans to put games in the palm of your hand: The Next Generation Portable (NGP), which is scheduled for a Holiday 2011 release, and the Xperia Play (XP)–or, if you like, “that PlayStation Phone”–coming in March 2011. Clever plan, right? With so many people who are undecided between buying a handheld game system or just making do with games on their mobile phones, Sony has provided an option for both camps.

Unfortunately, Sony has also tilled the landscape for consumer confusion. Someone who’s willing to conduct a lot of research on both the NGP and XP will sort things out, but even experienced industry enthusiasts are having a hard time separating the systems and their features at a glance. Both the NGP and the XP, for instance, have 3G support–but only one (the XP) will actually have a phone function.

Things get even more muddy when you hold the NGP and the XP next to Apple’s products. You an buy and iPhone, sure, but if you don’t care about 3G support, you can just buy an iPod Touch. Or you can buy an iPad with 3G support, or you can opt not to. Pretty simple stuff to explain when you’re pitching the tech to a customer.

Selling the XP and the NGP alongside one another is another story. Yes, they both play games–but the NGP plays different games than the XP, as the latter is built more for PSOne-level titles (oh, and you can’t transfer your PSOne purchases from your PSP to your XP, sorry). The NGP will have social networking options, but you can’t use it to call mother.

Sony is in the midst of boiling up a marketing nightmare, and it’s too bad because the XP is an adorable piece of work. One also has to question Sony’s plan to release both the XP and the NGP in the same year: If people spend their money on the XP and decide they’re pretty content with the smartphone’s emphasis on gaming, will the NGP’s prettier graphics be enough to convince them to shell out for another handheld system? Sony already has to contend with Apple and the Nintendo 3DS in 2011. Why does it want to fight itself, too?

The smartphone that will carry the PlayStation into mobile gaming is a good-looking bit of hardware, and it has some interesting features, but Sony is going to have to do some work to make sure potential buyers don’t become muddled while trying to sort out the NGP and the XP. They’re likely to give up and purchase an iPhone instead.

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, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.


  1. Maybe you were being sarcastic there and the comment was lost on me but… the iDevice market appears to me to be much more fragmented. I’ve already lost track of all the various iDevices in their various generations and what each one is capable of. XP and NGP are pretty simple by comparison – one is an Android phone with a new library of games and one is essentially a portable PS3.

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