Sony Unveils New Handheld Called ‘NGP’, Brings PSOne Classics to Android, and Makes Promises I Bet They’ll Break

As expected, during a 1AM EST press event, Sony unveiled the next generation of its portable gaming systems, called the NGP, or PSP 2 for short. I have attached full press release, but let’s walk through some of the details:

  • 5″ OLED 960 x 554 Screen – also multitouch capable
  • Multi-touch rear panel
  • Quad-core A9 Cortex processor
  • Dual analog sticks
  • Accelerometer, gyroscope, compass
  • Normal array of speakers, microphone, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc
  • Yet another new proprietary storage format

Of course, having the love/hate relationship I do with Sony … I have some opinions.

  • Largely this seems like the PSP 2 they HAD to make: it blatantly copies from the DS and iPod Touch in ways that make sense.
  • They also took a ‘kitchen sink’ approach, which I see being a technical nightmare.
  • Technically the thing is a BEAST – great processor, and building on the solid PSP Go foundation is certain to mean a high quality product
  • Dual analog sticks … about time.
  • Yet another new proprietary storage format – ugh. You know they HAD to do it, but it still sucks.
  • Sony jumps on the Android train big time!

As mentioned, Sony is also bringing some games to Android, which makes sense. Remember that the ‘Playstation Phone’ is an Android device. So you have a company with a working Android knowledge using very similar hardware on their new gaming system while also pushing their gaming software onto another platform – it is a very smart move, in my opinion. Here are some details on the Playstation Suite:

Clearly seeing the strength in offering both a hardware and software solution, Sony has announced that those not fussed with its gaming hardware will still be able to enjoy the PlayStation Network experience and games on other devices that the manufacturer doesn’t even make.

“The target platform of PS Suite is Android. We will also launch PlayStation Certified to perform content-quality testing in order to ensure PS quality across various devices,” said Hirai.

Sony also showed the ability to run near-PS3 graphics on the system, and combined with the dual-analog sticks that gamers have been clamoring for since 2005 it promises to offer a great hardcore gaming experience.

But how much will any of that matter? Sony has already shown tremendous hubris and customer disdain in their handling of the PSP Go. The PSP platform has been all about ‘brand pull’ to get gamers on the PS3 rather than direct customer satisfaction and support. I have little doubt that their Android game efforts are the same sort of thing – they don’t care about selling software, they want to offer just enough to sell more hardware.

With the PS3 we saw them tout backwards compatibility with PS2 and then silently drop it in an epic ‘bait & switch’ move. I am willing to bet that they will do the same here – right now they are touting compatibility with *everything*, PSP games, PSP Minis, PSOne Classics. By the time it launches, we’ll learn that only ‘select’ games will work, and pretty soon as they move to cut production costs they’ll just kill it altogether.

Sony has lost the console generation, and have badly lost the handheld race that many game magazines said they should have won. Now they are bleeding market share in both areas badly, as the PS Move is a me-too joke and a failure while Kinect was a tremendous success. All they can hope is that this new hardware helps generate some positive buzz for their flailing gaming unit. Of course, they could always just try to be customer friendly … but that would be so un-Sony.

Here is the press release:

Sony Computer Entertainment Announces Its Next Generation Portable Entertainment System

Ultimate Portable Entertainment System Makes Its Debut This Year, Further Expanding the PlayStation® Business in the Portable Gaming Market

TOKYO, Jan. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — SonyComputerEntertainment Inc. (SCE)today announced its next generation portable entertainment system (codename: NGP), which delivers the ultimate portable entertainment experience. NGP will make its debut at the end of the year 2011.

NGP is designed to offer unparalleled interactive entertainment that is only possible on PlayStation®. This new system offers a revolutionary combination of rich gaming and social connectivity within a real world context, made possible by leveraging SCE’s experience from both PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) and PlayStation®3 (PS3®) entertainment systems.

Deep and immersive gaming is at the core of PlayStation’s DNA, and NGP is the latest embodiment of this vision. By having both Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity, together with various applications, NGP will enable infinite possibilities for users to “encounter,” “connect,” “discover,” “share” and “play” with friends wherever they are. Within the device are a range of features that provide a genuinely cutting-edge, next generation ultimate portable entertainment experience.

· Stunning OLED and Revolutionary User Interface

NGP incorporates a beautiful multi-touch 5-inch organic light emitting display (OLED) as the front display. A high-performance CPU / GPU combined with OLED enables rich, visually striking graphics never seen before on a portable entertainment system, for both games and other digital entertainment content. The new system also incorporates a unique multi-touch pad on the rear, and together with the front touch display, NGP offers new game play allowing users to interact directly with games in three dimension-like motion, through “touch, grab, trace, push and pull” moves of the fingers.

· Super Oval Design and Dual Analog Sticks

While succeeding the basic design philosophy of PSP, NGP adopts the Super Oval Design form factor, created to fit comfortably in users’ hands. For the first time, a portable entertainment system will feature two analog sticks, which enable a wider range of game genres to be brought into the portable experience.

· LiveArea™

Every game title for NGP will be provided with a space called “LiveArea™” where users can share the fun and excitement with other players. Users will have access to the latest information of games provided from SCE and 3rd party developers and publishers through PlayStation®Network. Additionally, NGP users will be able to view an “Activity” log that is constantly updated with accomplishments from users who are playing the same game, which in turn can trigger active real-time communication among users.

· Near

SCE will also provide location-based services on NGP as part of the basic features utilizing PlayStation Network. The new application called “Near,” developed specifically for this service and the network, will be pre-installed in the system to let users find out what their friends in the vicinity are playing now or what they were playing recently. Users can meet their friends and new players virtually, regardless of what games they are playing, simply by sharing their game information across different dimensions of time and distance.

· New Game Medium

NGP adopts a new game medium, a small flash memory based card, dedicated for NGP software titles. Taking advantage of the flash memory feature, this innovative card can store the full software titles plus add-on game content or the game save data directly on to the card. By adopting flash memory based card, SCE will be able to provide game cards with higher capacity in the future, allowing developers to store more game data to deliver rich and immersive games.

NGP will also come equipped with two cameras on its front and rear, as well as three motion sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass, all of which are designed to enable users to enjoy the world of entertainment that is linked with real life experiences.

PlayStation®Suite (PS Suite),announced today, will also closely coordinate with NGP. The newly developed and released game content for Android™ based portable devices can also be enjoyed on NGP. As a result, users will have access to not only the most leading-edge content, but also some of the more casual experiences that typify the mobile market place.

SCE will vigorously promote NGP towards the launch as the next generation portable entertainment platform and deploy various measuresto further expand the portable gaming market.

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