Thursday, March 12, 2009

PSP2 or Not PSP2?

While several sources are reporting that Sony is working on a new PSP, while the publisher has refused to confirm or deny its existence, what would the new system mean for PSP gamers?
For PSP fans, 2008 turned out to be a real drag. While we were treated early on with some fantastic exclusives (God of War: Chains of Olympus and Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core come to mind),

the remainder of the year turned out to be almost completely devoid of original titles that took advantage of what Sony’s handheld could do. However, 2009 is already shaping up quite nicely, with newly invigorated support, including upcoming entries to the Assassin’s Creed, LittleBigPlanet, and MotorStorm franchises down the pipeline.
With games like LittleBigPlanet set to appear on the PSP, there is still quite a bit of life in the system.
One of the biggest rumors currently floating around about the system is a hardware revision set for this year. Various news outlets have claimed that insider sources close to Sony have revealed that a new PSP (possibly a PSP-4000 series model) would have a sliding screen, dual analog nubs, and most intriguingly, no UMD slot (the system would rely on downloads).
Most recently, industry luminary Dave Perry has called Sony to task, claiming that he knows developers that are currently working on the UMD-less system, and challenging Sony to officially deny the lack of UMD in the system. Sony, on the other hand, has continued to stoically refuse to confirm or deny the existence of the system. The rumors haven’t been able to narrow down whether or not the new system would be a new model in the current PSP hardware line or a full-fledged PSP2, but the prospect of a new system is certainly exciting and could give the system the edge it needs to rival Nintendo’s handheld juggernaut, the DS.
While a UMD-less PSP certainly would have quite a few benefits (including much improved battery life, potential for smaller form factor, and no more discs to haul around) there are still a few questions that would be raised for current PSP owners. How will previous owners be able to transfer their existing game (or film) library to the system without a UMD slot? Will the lack of one render their previous game purchases obsolete?
Would a UMD-less PSP be a worthy investment for current owners of the system?
Another potential issue with a UMD-less PSP design would be the download factor, requiring owners to have a wireless broadband connection to download new games (while it’s becoming increasingly rare, it’s not unheard of to run into some gamers without a broadband connection). What effect on battery life will game downloads have? Hopefully the download factor won’t affect the battery life too much, as lengthy downloads to the system could very well negate the power-consumption benefits of a UMD-less system.
Of course, all of this is pure speculation at this point, since Sony hasn’t made any confirmation that they are currently working a PSP remodel, let alone what that possible reworking would entail. Still, there is a lot to be said of the future of the platform, as well as the millions of PSP owners whose support hangs in the balance.

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