October 15, 2009

To Go or Not To Go, That Is The PSP Question

Chris Nitz Says The PSP has been a great gaming device for me. It has been with me through many holiday vacations. I started with a PSP Phat (PSP 1000), and upgraded to a PSP Slim (2000). I play my PSP more than I play my DS. I pretty much take my PSP just about everywhere I go.

I was initially excited about the PSPgo. I would love a smaller and lighter PSP. I would welcome not having to carry a library of UMD's with me. Most of all, I just want the new, sexier gadget. So why has the PSPgo not become a part of my gaming arsenal? Let’s look at the pros and cons of the PSP and the PSPgo.

The PSPGo is smaller. It is almost 40% smaller than my PSP Slim. This means a reduction in weight. It would almost fit in my pocket as nicely as the DS does. This rocks if you’re taking this with you to work or on a plane.

The shrunken size has some disadvantages. The button and nub layout is more cramped. Those people with larger hands are going to have issues playing this for any length of time. Well, unless you enjoy hand cramping. The screen is actually smaller. Both screens carry the same resolution. You'll be looking at 3.8” of screen on the PSPgo versus 4.3” on a PSP. This might be easier on a bus or plane, but I enjoy playing my PSP at work and on the couch. Why did they make the screen smaller?

The PSPgo has foregone the UMD drive. I enjoy digital downloads. I don't have to remember where a case is. I don't have to worry about disc scratching. I can buy a game and never get off my butt. Digital distribution is great for me as I live in a small town. It can take weeks for new games to get into the local store here. There is almost instant gratification in downloading a game in a matter of minutes, versus driving all over the place trying to find a game.

The disadvantage for almost all existing PSP owners is that their UMD collection becomes a great collection of drink coasters. We were told that we would get a way to exchange our UMD's for digital copies. Sony has since done away with this. This means if you get a PSPgo and want to play one of your UMD's you’re out of luck.

One of the biggest disadvantages for doing away with the UMD drive is that you can no longer borrow, trade, or rent PSP games. You can forget using services like Goozex or Gamefly to try out a game. Want to swap games with a friend, no go there. No UMD drive means you’re stuck going to the PSN and hoping the game you want has a demo.

Another pitfall is having only one place to get games. The PlayStation Network is still growing. You still cannot get Dissidia on the PSN. Have you ever tried to download off the PSN? It is slow. There is just no good reason why downloading an 800MB game should take as long as it does.

Sony controls the pricing for the PSN. This has led to some odd pricing on games. Disgaea is $15 on the PSN. This is great as it still retails for around $30 (new) online. Yet, Resistance Retribution is cheaper online than it is off the PSN. This wouldn't be an issue, but the PSPgo won't use that UMD you just got at a discount. I would worry about Sony doing some price fixing down the road as well.

The PSPgo has 16 gigabytes of memory built in. This means having to carry around memory cards is less of a necessity. 16 gigs not enough for you? You can expand it using the Memory Stick Micro slot. Wait, you need a Memory Stick Micro, which means all of your current memory sticks won't work in the PSPgo. In fact, none of your existing accessories will work with the PSPgo. Got a camera, you can't use it. Got the tv cables to hook up your PSP to a tv, those won't work either. While this may not be a big issue for everyone, this is yet another cost for some.

The PSPgo does allow you to sync up your PS3 controllers to it. That means all those PS1 games that utilize a Dualshock can now be played in their full bliss. One big advantage to this, you can now play two-player PS1 games off your PSPgo. It might not be a full solution, but at least now you can have two analog sticks. Let’s just hope that publishers start adding this control scheme as an option to their games.

There have been some retailers that have voiced that they will not carry the PSPgo. Why would they do this? Well, retailers don't make much off of hardware sales. They look for you to buy a new console and a game and accessories. You won't be purchasing games at the store for that nice new PSPgo. So the sale add-on's become almost non-existent with this purchase.

Retailers lose out on long-term sales as well. You won't be going back to them to purchase new games. This also means that when they offer two-for-one style deals, you lose out. Toys R' Us just had a great deal on games. Those with PSPgo's miss out on expanding their PSP game library with this deal.

The price point is a big sticking point for a lot of people as well. The PSPgo can be yours for $250. A PSP 3000, with a game, can be picked up for $169. Sure, that PSP 3000 is bigger, still uses a UMD, and is not as sexy (and sexy is a relative term here), but it is almost $100 cheaper. The PSP 3000 can also get on the PSN and download the same games the PSPgo can. One explanation for this price difference has got to be that Sony is looking to take advantage of the early adopter.

I will not tell you to get a PSPgo based on this or that situation. Too many articles have already done that. What I am saying is a PSP 3000 can do everything that a PSPgo can do. Sure it is a bit bulkier, but you will have more gaming options with it.

In the end, you should decide for yourself what will work best for you and your situation. For me, that means waiting it out to see what happens with the PSPgo. My PSP 2000 works just fine. I can still get my digital downloads for games. I can still take advantage of Goozex, GameFly, and great deals at the store.