Editor's note: Jon has got some great ideas for the all-too-likely PSP successor. I especially like the notion of porting more PlayStation classics to the PSN Store. -James
The jury's still out on whether or not Sony has learned enough from the disastrous launch of the PSP to make the PSP 2 successful. The boring solutions are most likely the accurate ones: The PSP 2 needs to be cheaper, and it needs to have good games (both at release and in the waiting for Q4 2010).
But let's get a little more idealistic for a second: Beside increasing sales, what could the PSP 2 do to set the world on fire? What could the small, handheld console provide that would usurp the commuter pocket space currently held by other miniature electronic devices? With that in mind, I present five ideal features for the PSP 2.
Don't just step on Apple's toes, trample them.
I should make one thing clear right off the bat: If I get a call on my PSP and look like I'm gaming while I do it, you can count me out. I want a device that can play all the great games that a PlayStation can but looks and acts like a smart phone. Make it a PSP Go with a touchscreen if you have to, and include an analog joystick. Just don't force me to navigate my phonebook with a joystick.
I want it all: a phonebook, mobile Internet, a calender, Facebook connectivity, a camera, a music player, and a movie player. Don't make me consider leaving my phone at home; make me feel like an idiot for carrying another device that does less than the PSP. If Sony can make people carry their PSPs at all times, the battle is half won.
Don't go download-only.
If you're listening Sony, I didn't by a PSP Go, and I'm not one bit sorry about it. But don't take that as a sign that I disagree with digital-only releases. I love the idea of not having to wait for my games to arrive through the mail, but I don't like the prospect of having to give up my UMD collection for the privilege to do that.
Retailers are understandably reluctant to devote shelf space to games that didn't sell well. Digital distribution is great because it easily circumvents this problem with online storefronts. But in the end, most titles need a physical counterpart. (Just make sure you get the whole "piracy thing" sorted out…unless you want egg on your face for the second time running.)
Embrace Your Past.
Playing Metal Gear Solid on my PSP was an absolute blast. Not those PSP titles, mind you, but the original PlayStation epic. It's hard to get myself to play old classics when I'm at home with my trio of next-gen consoles, but when I'm out and about, it's perfect the perfect shot of handheld nostalgia.
Without sounding ungrateful, I want more. I want PlayStation titles by the dozens…and for cheaper. Don't stop there though, every old console is ripe for the picking. Ostensibly, the PSP 2 could have the power of the Wii, so why not feature a Sony-branded version of the the Virtual Console? I could go for Genesis games, TurboGrafx games…hell, even a couple of Neo Geo games might be nice.
Yes, I know licensing is a bit tricky, but you're an industry heavyweight, Sony, and you've been in the game a long time. It's time to start mustering your clout and convincing third parties that their old games are more than welcome in your digital store.
I've got a pretty nice Trophy count going on my PlayStation 3. I spent a significant amount of time earlier this year chasing after a platinum Trophy in Assassin's Creed 2, and when I finally got it, the feeling of accomplishment was amazing. If I could get that same feeling portably, I'd certainly spend a lot more time with the PS3's younger sibling. Currently, I waste a ton of time reading books on the train (which, I might add, don't even have the common courtesy to play a satisfying fanfare whenever I finish a chapter).
Joking aside, Trophies would give people an alluring incentive to connect their PSP to their PSN account. As soon as you've got PSPs talking with your central servers, you've got excuse enough to pull checks to make sure people are using legitimate copies of their games in their search for Trophy glory. If you make Trophies appealing enough, human competition will take over. Losing out to a friend is a serious punishment for many potential pirates.
Make the PSP 2 do everything you said the PSP would.
Maybe I'm the only one, but before the PS3 joined the PSP on store shelves, I really thought there was a possibility of using my PSP to control PS3 games. Developers tantalized us with demonstrations of the PSP acting as a rear-view mirror in racing games like Formula One Championship Edition
, but when both systems were on store shelves, everyone went strangely quiet about the issue.
Personally, I'd never want to use the PSP's tiny, little analogue stick to play a game as precise as Formula One, but the feature could be invaluable in many other instances. Imagine a two-player RPG experience. The game sucks you into a random encounter, and you and a friend are each controlling a party member. The television in front of you is completely free of a heads-up display, and instead, your PSP displays all the required menus for controlling the tide of battle. You and your friend scroll through your characters' data individually. When your turn comes to attack, the animation plays out in beautiful high definition. That, my friend, is living.
Bonus token feature: Include a second analog joystick.
I didn't want to include this feature because I honestly think it encourages developers to put console experiences on handhelds — which is a bad thing. Forcing people into precision controls with tiny, imprecise joysticks never works.
But let's ignore that because it seems as though I'm alone in this concern. A significant amount of people are really pining for that second joystick. This means it should generate enough sales to offset the cost of its inclusion. A small number of games — I'm thinking Super Stardust HD – would work quite well, so it's influence wouldn't be all bad.
If Sony does all of these things, they will guarantee themselves at least one extra sale.
What about you? What does Sony need to do to wash that bad PSP taste out of your mouth and get you back on the bandwagon for its handheld successor?