One of the worst-kept secrets of E3 2009 (alongside Microsoft's Project Natal control system) was Sony's revamped PlayStation Portable, the PSP Go!. Not surprisingly, it took centre stage at the company's press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
The new handheld gaming device has a 16 GB solid state drive, no UMD slot, and will rely solely on downloadable content. It's also lighter, slimmer, and features slick slide-out controls. As I speculated earlier, it's not so much PSP 2.0 as PSP 1.5.
The system's fall release will be followed by a steady stream of impressive looking software, starting with a PSP version of Sony's Gran Turismo driving simulator at launch, with entries in popular franchises such as Metal Gear Solid, MotorStorm, and LittleBigPlanet coming later.
Sony also used their time in the spotlight to showcase more than a dozen exclusive titles coming to the PlayStation 3 over the next two years, including known games-such as Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, MAG, and Heavy Rain-as well as previously unannounced titles, like Rockstar Games' Agent, Final Fantasy XIV Online, and ModNation Racers, a kart racing game with user-generated content features similar to those found in LittleBigPlanet.
In the midst of all the software announcements came a brief tech demo for a new kind of interface employing a camera and a wand to facilitate precise game control. Alas, few details were provided; there was no word on price, availability, or even an official name.
The event was capped with footage from the highly anticipated action game God of War III, as well as the announcement that it would be shipping to stores next March.
I connected with Sony Computer Entertainment Canada's Matt Levitan shortly after the event.
So, it sounds like Sony is renewing its efforts in the handheld market with the PSP Go! What are some of the system's features?
It's certainly a bit of a resurgence of our efforts in the handheld market. The [$249]PSP Go! is for someone who wants to have the very best in handheld entertainment. It's set to be more of a tech-savvy, early adopter handheld, as opposed to the original PSP, which now, at its $169 price point, is more for the casual gamer.
It's also designed more for digital distribution than the existing PSP, which uses UMD media. It has 16 gigs of hard drive space, built-in wireless and Bluetooth, and it has an M2 Memory Stick slot for transferring files.
It's also got a sliding screen, so it makes a great movie watching device. The moment you slide the screen up it reveals the analog stick, the iconic buttons, and the digital pad.
Can you elaborate on the PSP Go!'s digitally distributed content?
The PSP Go! Doesn't have a UMD slot, so any content you buy will be off of the PlayStation Store. With the average game clocking in between 300 MB and a 1 GB, you should have plenty of room. And even if you delete a game off your drive, you still have the ability to download it again because it's tied to your PlayStation Network ID name.
So there are sort of two different schools of distribution going on at the same time. We will continue to support UMD. That's not going away for all of the PSP-1000, -2000, and -3000 users. So a game like LittleBigPlanet will still be available on UMD. But then there will also be a digital file that will be on the PlayStation Store for PSP Go! users.
And can PSP Go! consumers be confident that all future PSP games will be released digitally through the PlayStation Store as well as on UMD?
Yes, that's the goal. I can't tell you today that it will be 100 per cent [of all PSP games] but we want to make that same content available both digitally and on UMD. All of the big titles we've talked about for the fall are available both digitally and on UMD.
Let's talk about those titles. The new software line-up for PSP looks impressive. Will most of the recognizable games mentioned at the press event be available shortly after the PSP Go! launches?