New PSP Heading to Retail in March?

Posted by jgaudiosi :: Mobile Gaming

Psp_4 Online rumors are running rampant on a new Sony PSP that may ship in March 2007. Much of the speculation stems from a "PSM" article that doesn't name any sources and includes much speculation. The October issue of the magazine says that Sony will ship a new slimmer PSP that will come with 8 GB of built-in memory, have a digital camera included and have two thumbsticks. Sony did officially announce Japanese price points for the new digital camera ($43) and GPS device ($51) that will ship in November and December as add-on devices for the PSP. These devices will be shown at the Tokyo Game Show in Japan September 22. Both devices are expected to hit these shores, as games like Konami's "Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops" are incorporating GPS functionality into gameplay.

While this would certainly make a nice portable gaming device, it seems like shipping a new PSP just two years after the first one is a bit early. Sony has gone on the record saying that PSP will stay at its $200 price point this year, but next year, at the latest, consumers should get a break in the hardware--by as much as $50 off the current price point.

One option would be for Sony to introduce the new device, like Nintendo did with its hot-selling Nintendo DS Lite, while keeping the older device on the market at a lower price point. But the new DS Lite was just smaller than the original, it did not add new controls to the device, as the rumored PSP would.

Sony's PSP is expected to receive a renewed digital distribution push in the U.S. later this year. Sony's Connect.com is supposed to offer music, movie and TV downloads at some point in the future. Sony will also offer emulated PS one games for the PSP. These types of functionalities, including the new memory sticks with built-in movies, will require gamers to have larger memory capacity.

The one hindrance to developing for PSP, especially when bringing PS2 games over to the portable, has been the single analog stick controls. Adding a second stick would likely make it much easier for game publishers to port PS2 games over. With Sony supporting PS2 for several more years, there will be plenty of future games available for conversion.

While Nintendo DS has been receiving a lot of the press lately, the PSP is a solid gaming device. Yes, the UMD movie business has dried up, but as a gaming device, PSP delivers an excellent experience. New games like "Madden NFL 07," "NASCAR 07," "NCAA Football 07" are filling the void that once existed in the marketplace. There are plenty of new games heading to PSP this fall and beyond, as well.

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