The PSP2: Overkill Much?

So if Kotaku can be believed the PSP2 is a reality and it’s going to be packing some serious heat. Dual analog sticks, touch screen, HD screen, no more UMDs and hardware to rival the Xbox 360. If it sounds like a little much, that’s probably because it is.

Granted, these are only pseudo-confirmed rumors and reek of PR hype, but Sony has certainly proven in the past that they have a tendency to overdo it. Just look at the original PSP. How many of you really use it to listen to music, surf the web, or even watch movies? Weren’t those useful to your portable gaming experience? Similarly, how many people really think we need a handheld right now that can match the 360 in terms of power? How many even think we need another handheld with a touch screen, especially when the feature proved little more than a novelty?

Really looking at the long list of new features the only one that PSP owners really have been asking for are the dual analog sticks, and it seems to me that a revamp of the current PSP would more than suffice and more importantly allow keep the PSP at a price point where it can compete with the forthcoming 3DS.

Because really, even with all the new features, a more expensive PSP2 is going to flounder against the already costly 3DS. Need proof? Just look at the PS3 and how it performed against the Wii at the start of this generation. The PS3 was and arguably is the most powerful console on the market, but it has had to fight tooth and nail just to maintain a contentious third place position in sales. Did it have better tech than its competitors? Yes. Could it produce better looking games than the Wii? Most certainly. Has it amassed a stronger library of titles than its competitors? Arguably so. But all of the pros of owning a PS3 came with the very big con of it costing a ton. Buying a PS3 in 2006 cost me $600, and were I presented with the option of buying one at the same price today I simply wouldn’t be able to afford it.

If Sony were smart they would simply revamp the current PSP to include desired features like dual analog sticks and then use the age of the current tech as a jumping board to lower the price and make it a genuine competitor with the 3DS. With that and some more consistent software support, the PSP could do the same sort of reversal that the Wii did when it first launched.

Sony needs to remember that bigger isn’t always better and that even if the PSP’s graphics are no longer the shiniest on the block, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it. The PSP even with its flaws is a great system. As the 3DS launches it will be tasked essentially with building a library of console quality games that the PSP to an extent already has. If anything Sony should be exploiting the advantages it already has over the 3DS, rather than trying to conjure up a new mess of features to surpass it. The DS being a weaker system didn’t stop it from surpassing the PSP in popularity, and there is no reason a redesigned PSP can’t compete with the 3DS.

The PSP2 as it seems to be growing into is the sort of thing that looks impressive at E3. It’s the sort of thing that builds up a buzz and then fails to deliver on the inevitable hype that follows. That said, setting the bar so high means you have further to fall from and the original PSP is evidence of anything it’s that the best tech in business isn’t always a guarantee of victory. Sometimes the more subtle changes are the best.

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