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Portables (Games) Sony

Is There Anything Wrong With The PSP? 157

An anonymous reader writes "In the latest 'Analyze This' series of exclusive Gamasutra features, analysts from Screen Digest, ABI Research and DFC Intelligence look at what Sony and developers can do to improve the PSP platform, to generate more excitement for it among developers, gamers and the industry overall — or if they even need to. 'My feelings on the PSP are mixed: It has shown there is demand for a more high-end portable system. The portable market has room for two competing portable systems. We forecast that over the next five years dedicated portable systems will sell just as many units as the new console systems. However, the PSP could really use a new model. This has been the secret to Nintendo's success.'"
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Is There Anything Wrong With The PSP?

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  • by Cthefuture ( 665326 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:42PM (#18635783)
    No touch screen. PDA's were around way before the PSP came out, it should have been the first thing they thought of. Both the PSP and GP2x suffer from the same problem. A touchscreen makes the device so much more versatile. Web browsers, calculators, calenders, console type applications, etc are much easier to do with a touch screen. It vastly opens up the possibilities for home-brew stuff.

    Both the PSP and GP2x are high-powered cool machines but without a touchscreen I'm going to stick with my Nintendo DS.
  • um games? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <aaaaa@nOSpAM.SPAM.yahoo.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:43PM (#18635787) Journal
    i suspect the main thing the psp needs are games and not UMD movies. All th PSP has are broken ports and the occasional remix. There is a reason why they have a ps1 emulator on it and most people use it for homebrew.
  • by B5_geek ( 638928 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:43PM (#18635799)
    Don't cripple your product!

    If the PSP had been able to play movies at full resolution from the flash-card instead of only from the craptastic UMD then I would have bought one instead of the Video Ipod that I own now.

  • Encourage homebrew (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Threni ( 635302 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:44PM (#18635803)
    Stop spending time, effort and money deliberately making it hard for people to develop their own software. Sony should be encouraging that, not making it harder. (They could reinstate lik-sang and pay them damages, too).
  • It's owned by Sony (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:46PM (#18635843)
    There's nothing wrong with it. It's a much better portable than the DS, supporting movies, music, and far better games. (Sorry, dragging crap around with the stylus and shouting into the microphone don't make a better experience, they just make the thing more annoying.)

    But the problem is that it's owned by Sony, and Sony has managed to piss off the gaming community to the point where the mere fact that it's owned by Sony is enough to prevent people from buying it.

    It's sad, really.
  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:48PM (#18635871)
    Sony needs to stop allowing their movie / music division to dictate to their consumer electronics division. They added UMD movies to the PSP that nobody wants. They added Blu-Ray to PS/3 and slipped their schedule out a year and added hundreds of dollars to the consoles cost. They keep putting all sorts of unwanted DRM into everything. Sell it off and get back to making well-designed consumer electronics.
  • by WinterSolstice ( 223271 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:51PM (#18635905)
    Seriously - I couldn't agree more.

    When they announced the PSP I was all about it, but hadn't saved up enough yet. By the time I was ready to buy it, they had already crippled the hell out of it.

    Once that was hacked - they did it again, so I was wary. Now it's just a piece of crap with an attractive screen and nothing to use on it. Two thumbs down. I'll take my low-res DS lite any day. It has these things called "games". They're "fun". I enjoy them, and getting online with it to play games isn't a PITA.
  • by CogDissident ( 951207 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:01PM (#18636029)
    You know, someone just need to sit Sony down and say "Hey, Sony, this is a portable gaming system. Can you tell me what the purpose of the system is." then slap them in the face when they say something about next generation blah de crap (yes, thats a technical term).

    Games are about the fun, if you make a game system that lacks games like that, that arn't engaging and easy to play on the go. They missed this point obviously because most of their games are made for people who sit around for hours and hours playing the same game.
  • by psychokitten ( 819123 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:03PM (#18636055)
    Yeah there's a LOT wrong with the PSP - and nothing that's wrong with it is really anything developers can fix, either.

    Overall, the PSP seems to have been designed for style and coolness first, with usability second. Consequently, the analog stick is pure shit and almost unusable. The D-pad is better, but not a whole lot so. With my smaller hands, the shoulder buttons are all but unusable as well.

    The crossbar interface, or whatever Sony's calling it this month, while lauded on the PS3 - I find to be pretty underwhelming on the PSP as well. Sony should have just thrown this out and again - spent time looking for an interface that was more usable than 'cool'.

    UMD game load-times are so atrociously slow that when I still had a PSP, bothering to change games simply doesn't worth it. If I didn't want to play the game that was already in there, or if I actually turned my PSP off rather than simply putting it on standby you couldn't just pick the system up and get that 'quick game fix' that portables are supposed to be so wonderful for.

    The only place the developers can help of course is in the games department... fortunately (for them,) this is another one of the PSP's huge failings. Quit with the tired, crappy ports, and come out with more new and fun games on the system. Learn it's limitations and weaknesses, especially the media limitations. Design games that are quick to load, don't rely on that crappy analog... thing, and don't make you sit looking at a loading screen for two to three minutes any time you load a save, or move to a new level, or something along those lines.

    As long as the PSP still suffers from THIS, gamers are just going to keep shutting it off and picking their DS back up.

  • by MeanderingMind ( 884641 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:08PM (#18636107) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about you, but when I look at the PSP and the PS3 I see the tears of engineers.

    Somethine deep down inside me says, "A team of engineers poured their heart and soul into this, working with the crappy ideas marketing thrust upon them and doing their utmost to take their crap and make something beautiful." The end results may not be magnificent, but I can tell that someone tried to push them in the right direction.

    The PR people need more than a slap in the face. They need to be dragged down to the R&D people and be forced to beg for forgiveness.
  • Technical flaws (Score:3, Insightful)

    by strredwolf ( 532 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:09PM (#18636111) Homepage Journal
    I got a PSP before the price reduction (ARGH!) for video and music, with Wifi being a fringe benifit. I now felt like I wasted my money.

    First, music is fine, don't get me wrong. The native player is nicely built, the interface is decent, and you can stare at it all the time. Video, though, requires a special subsection of the MP4 format that only a few people have cracked (including the Xvid4PSP utility). Oh, and you can't use a MPEG4 codec eazily ether -- you have to use H264. And depending on the firmware, these requirements can and will change (pre-3.30 vs 3.30).

    Second is third party support. There's no cheap UMD burners out there. The UMD format is completely proprietary. You got Memory Sticks which are half-way good, but in order to run anything off of them you need to hack the ROM. Lock-in, anyone?

    Third is Linux support. Right now, there's a slow-developing ucLinux port out there. There's no MMU on the PSP so it's not a GPX2 contender by any stretch. Sony did a good thing by opening the door a tad with Linux support on the PS3. Sony did a bad thing by killing the capabilities on the PS3 while running Linux.

    I'm selling my PSP. For what I want, the iPod is better.
  • by QuantumHobbit ( 976542 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:09PM (#18636113)
    Paraphrasing James Carville, " It's the games stupid." There's nothing innately wrong with the PSP other than the price maybe. Sure it's not as innovative as the DS, but killer-ap games are what sell consoles and the PSP doesn't have any killer-ap games like the PS2 had in GTA 3.
  • how about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Churla ( 936633 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:18PM (#18636259)
    Sony makes it.

    It sounds all "Anti-Sony fanboi" flamish but there are reasons. For years, dare I say decades, I was a Sony zealot. They had some of the best audio components available for a while. I loved the home theater products I purchased from them. I still have an AV receiver of theirs from the 90-92 range running in my gameroom.

    I got turned off starting with the Mini-disc and moving forward. It became somewhat obvious to me that Sony was, as someone else mentioned, letting the media division push an agenda on the hardware division and hardware innovation suffered. The PS3 for instance was a shameless and unhidden push to get a format into prominence by loss selling a console. Any time you have a company selling hardware at a loss hoping to make up the money on software you no longer have an innovative hardware company. (I'm also looking at Apple somewhat with that statement as well , although on a computer hardware front they're starting to do some impressive things lately)

    The fact is if you buy a PsP and use it in accordance with how Sony wants you have a crippled hand-held platform. If the only way to get real performance and value out of the platform involves hacks, that should be a big red flag.

  • by kestasjk ( 933987 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:21PM (#18636311) Homepage
    If I want a game console/PDA/iPod/camera I won't buy a phone!

    Maybe some time in the future portable devices will have modular upgradeable hardware and portable software, and we'll start to see true convergence, but that time hasn't come yet.

    Improving a crappy gaming device by adding a PDA is like improving a crappy car by adding a fridge (damn I just used a car analogy).
  • by antime ( 739998 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @02:09PM (#18637033)
    That's a bunch of crap. I have both a DS and PSP and I can count on my fingers the number of times I've played a game on my DS. Face it, people like different kinds of games and for better or for worse that is one of the defining difference between the two platforms.
  • The PSP is alright (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @02:42PM (#18637559) Journal

    And that is just it. It is alright. Damned by faint praise. It is a middle of the road device, so while it doesn't actually totally suck at anything, it doesn't shine at anything either.

    Take its size, no it is NOT huge. The biggest is the Nintendo DS. That one is larger then the PSP in all dimensions. The DS Lite is exactly the same size as the PSP if you cut of the rounded sides of the PSP. But it is huge compared to the Gameboy advance mini.

    So it ain't the biggest, and it ain't the smallest. I wouldn't want a DS in my pocket, I can't slip the PSP in as easy as a GBA mini.

    Its screen is amazing scratch proof compared to other devices (say the GBA), but I won't be as easy going with it as my DS.

    It doesn't have to play "lesser" games because of its hardware like the GBA/DS series BUT its hardware while similar to the PS2 is NOT close enough to actually be able to just play PS2 games. If for no other reason then that is lacks the controls for those games. This is perhaps the most damning (is that a word) aspect of the PSP. The GBA and DS are NOT capable of running the "big" games and so they don't. They have their own unique games, made entirely for the handheld. Quite a few of the PSP games are clones of "full" games, wich just don't fit on the console.

    Not that Sony/PSP is alone in this. I remember a GBA game that for its save system required you to note down a 16 character code. Yeah that is userfriendly, especially on the go.

    But simply put, I at least do not play handhelds as fullblown consoles, I play them on the move. That requires a certain style of gaming, for instance, don't make the game impossible to see in bright daylight.

    Other middle of the road stuff that damns it. It is an mp3 player. But Memory sticks are smallish and expensive. Plus the player itself is a bit limited. It is like carrying an old style HD player with you with the storage space of a flash player.

    It plays video, and fairly reaosonable, except that its storage space is barely big enough to hold a complete movie (and all your other crap). The dead pixels everyone seem to have don't help. No sony, dead pixels are not acceptable, they are the signs of a broken product and people can't look past them on a screen this small.

    So it is bigger then an video iPod, and indeed most portable video players, but its storage space sucks and its screen has defects.

    A nice thing about the PSP is that it has speakers. You can therefore do a thing with it that an iPod cannot do. Use it as a jukebox. Nice, except that its speakers lack power. Some people use their phones this way and their music is far louder. So you can use it as a jukebox, but only if everyone is really quiet.

    Its screen is bigger then the Nintendo handhelds BUT it has less real estate compared to the DS.

    Simply put, what is the PSP trying to be. If it was a handheld PS2 it would be a console on the go. But it ain't. If it had more storage it could be a media player. But it ain't. If it had stronger speakers, it could be a jukebox like system. But it ain't. If it games were more made for being on the move. It could be fun like the Nintendo games. But it ain't.

    The sad fact is that I play GTA on my PSP and that is it. I also use it to play movies and such but mostly I use it for as a jukebox for when I am in a hotel or something, while I play games on my DS.

    Frankly, with all its faults, perhaps the second biggest mistake by Sony (apart from making few "on the move" games) is that PSP games are just so fucking expensive. I rather buy a DS game then for 10-20 euros less.

  • Re:Technical flaws (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PygmySurfer ( 442860 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @02:52PM (#18637727)
    Not to flame, but the problem here is that you bought the wrong device for your needs.

    Honestly though, it's not really your fault - Sony needs to decide just what they want the PSP to be - is it a portable gaming machine, or a portable media player? Sure, it can do both, but Sony has to decide on it's primary funciton. Instead, they'd rather pitch it as the ultimate solution to whatever you're looking for - gaming, movies, music - and it ends up not doing any of them spectacularly well.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:32PM (#18638405) Homepage
    But the problem is that it's owned by Sony, and Sony has managed to piss off the gaming community to the point where the mere fact that it's owned by Sony is enough to prevent people from buying it.

    If the success of the PSP was entirely dependent on sales to people who read slashdot and kotaku, then that in and of itself indicates a deep flaw in its design and strategy.

    Nobody else cares about Sony's asshattery. Ask anyone with a Nintendo DS if they bought the DS instead of a PSP because of the rootkit, Sony PR, Lik Sang, etc, and 99/100 will say "Huh?"

    The simple fact is that while you may dislike the gameplay on the DS, the vast majority of portable console purchasers disagree with you.
  • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:41PM (#18638581)
    "(Sorry, dragging crap around with the stylus and shouting into the microphone don't make a better experience, they just make the thing more annoying.)"

    I think the massive numbers of people that bought Brain Age would disagree with you on those points.
  • by amohat ( 88362 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:20PM (#18639221)
    Give it a 30GB internal hard drive and improve the battery. Even improve the web browser to play youtube and flash in general. Skype would be huge. Make some sort of sharing via wifi possible.

    Do that and keep costs down, maybe $350 and you got a huge hit. Maybe save money and space by ditching the stupid UMD altogether. Digital distribution sounds like a better alternative, or maybe get games on Memory Sticks.

    God, it's so obvious...stupid sony.
  • Re:Screwed Up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:48PM (#18640419) Homepage Journal

    no good camera control in FPSes or 3D platformers

    In my ever-so-humble opinion, pretty much every game which gives you full (or near full, like GTA) camera control does so because the camera behaves completely fucking stupidly. It's not in addition to an automatic camera, it's in lieu of it. I'd prefer to just see games with a good camera...

  • by zoney_ie ( 740061 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @06:32PM (#18640923)
    That's probably one of the more interesting diagnosis and does make it seem unsurprising that it was a recipe for disaster. However you left out the brilliance of the whole UMD mess...
  • Re:Yes, there is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by macshit ( 157376 ) <snogglethorpe@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday April 06, 2007 @07:26PM (#18641439) Homepage
    The analog control thing is in an uncomfortable position for many people

    What's silly is that they could have made it much better by simply putting the "analogu nub" above the digital pad instead of beneath it -- that would have been 10 times more natural. Of course even better than that would have been to put the nub more towards the center and moved/reduced the (awful) digital pad to make room. With the PSP (unlike playstation controllers) they clearly weren't overly concerned with backward compatbility, so they had a free hand to improve the layout.

    But they didn't do much of anything, and as a result the PSP is uncomfortable to use (it's also too heavy and bulky, but the awkward controls are the number one turn off for me).

    As far as I can see (judging from the original Playstation up through the PSP/PS3), Sony views the controls as a last-minute bullet-list item (though a necessary one), and basically does little or no usability testing of them. They seem to care more about whether the controls look good (e.g. are symmetrical) than whether they feel good and are pleasant to use for long periods of time.
  • by 7Prime ( 871679 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @08:23PM (#18641885) Homepage Journal
    They stand to suffer a lot. Currently, their reputation is built on the image of making "fun, innocent game machines", "toys" if you will (although not just for kids). The moment "work" starts to crop up when thinking about one of their gadgets, the overall image isn't as joyful and innocent as it once was. It's one of the major reasons they're doing so much better than Sony right now, on both fronts... Sony's lost their way in trying to market their devices as "more than just toys". As it turns out, "toys" is exactly what the majority of people who buy the systems want. They don't want the hastle of dealing with various media, they don't want the added complexities that a sophisticated OS brings (Nintendo has caved on this, but with a very intuitive and simple OS). Adding business related material to a device can be a slippery slope, and before you know it, the image of the device changes from "gaming machine", to "multi-functional device".

    Just look, the two most popular handheld devices on the market today are the iPod and the Nintendo DS. I don't think it's just a coincidence that the companies both have made it their mission to only do one entertainment related thing, and do it well.
  • Re:um games? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timster ( 32400 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @09:58PM (#18642547)
    Metacritic proves zilch. I've been gaming for over 20 years, and quite frankly I'd prefer the opinion of a drunk hobo over an average videogame "critic". Properly, criticism is a great endeavor, the art of connecting the masses with the wonders of a given form. Video game "critics" in general aspire only to prove to us how cool they are so we will keep reading their drivel. If you got the five good videogame critics into a room and shot them all, it'd be years before anyone without the time to just try everything could make sense of the morass of crap the industry shovels upon us.

    So when you bring out Metacritic to show that the PSP has as good of a selection of games as the DS, it's not surprising that this seems to be a counter-intuitive result. I'm not saying that the PSP selection is bad or even disappointing, now. I'm saying that the DS has driven a major renaissance of NON-"cinematic" gameplay which is the most important industry trend in a decade. Review scores written by cretins (on average) simply cannot capture a shift of this magnitude.

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