Sony recently announced their successor to the PlayStation Portable, the Next Generation Portable (this name is likely to change). Nintendo has historically dominated the handheld gaming market with the Gameboy series and now the Nintendo DS. Sony hoping to break into the handheld market released the PSP in 2005. The PSP, while in no way a failure, didn’t meet Sony’s definition of success. Hoping to counter Nintendo’s next generation handheld, the Nintendo 3DS, Sony has unveiled a new heavy hitting system of their own. However, the question is whether or not there is a market for the system or if it will be dead on arrival.
The NGP is definitely packing some heat under the hood, with reports saying it rivals the graphics of the PlayStation 3. On top of the graphics it sports a wide variety of nifty features. Featuring a large front touch screen, as well as a touch screen on the back of the system, Sony is definitely trying to utilize some of the technology that made the Nintendo DS so popular, namely its interactive touch screen. The system also comes equipped with a front and rear camera, topping Nintendo’s DSi which has only one. Following further in Nintendo’s footsteps, the NGP also features a gyroscope and accelerometer; allowing gamers to move the system do achieve certain tasks on the screen while playing a game. NGP comes equipped with built in Wi-Fi and brings back all the face buttons and shoulder buttons players or almost any video game system will be familiar with. One thing that is exciting is the inclusion of two analog sticks. The original PSP only featured one, making some shooters difficult to play. Click here for the full system specifications.
Sony’s new handheld is definitely not lacking in features, and without a doubt will be much more powerful than Nintendo’s next handheld the 3DS. However, one critical piece of information that Sony has been quiet about though is the price. Nintendo announced that the 3DS would go for $250, a price point that many gamers thought was too expensive. With Sony’s system packing an ever greater graphical punch and features, many are worried the system could very well cost over $300. For $300 dollar you could buy an Xbox 360 with its new Kinect feature or a PlayStation 3. Hopefully Sony will soon unveil the price and maybe even an exact release date for the NGP as it is currently slated for a holiday 2011 release.
Perhaps the most important part to consider when talking about the NGP is the state of the current video game handheld market. While Nintendo continues to dominate mobile gaming an unlikely runner up has appeared over the past few years. Apple and its Iphone/Ipod have become incredibly capable and popular mobile gaming devices. With Nintendo’s new system the 3DS coming down the pipe and Apple continuing to update its platforms, is there room for a high price point competitor? Analysts are having a hard time coming to a consensus. Game analyst Michael Pacther seems to think Sony, and Nintendo for that matter, do not stand much of a chance, saying “I think the PSP was dead on arrival and I think the PSP2 is going to be dead on arrival. We’re approaching saturation in the handheld market. We’re starting to see DS hardware sales crack, the iPod Touch is cutting into the handheld market. It looks to me like young kids are just as happy playing with the iPod Touch.” Others claim that with its powerful graphical capability and touch screens, as long as the price point is not ridiculous, the NGP has a fighting chance. We will just have to wait and see.