Sony is terrible at keeping secrets. Killzone 3, Resistance 3, the PS3 Slim, the PSPgo, Sony has no end of cats to let out of its bag, and rare is the time we are ever surprised. The PSP2 looks set to continue this trend, with rumors and gossip surrounding what now looks like an inevitable announcement.
Still, even though we know it's coming, the announcement of a new handheld is always fun, and the pre-release speculation never ceases to amuse. With that in mind, here's a list of things we'd personally like to see in the PSP2, in order to put it above and beyond the original PlayStation Portable.
To be able to switch on the PSP and play a game within the hour:
If the PSP is to be believed, nobody has yet discovered technology that allows us to switch on a games device and play games on it without having to take an entire day off work, but we really hope Sony cracks it with the PSP2. Experience with the PSP has taught us that if you want to play a game, you need to reschedule your week. Here's a nice example of what happened to me when I had a hankering for Killzone: Liberation ...
- I found my PSPgo buried in my closet after months without use.
- The PSPgo battery was completely drained because I hadn't turned it on.
- The PSP wouldn't charge from the USB because it was drained.
- I went back to the closet to dig out the wall socket plug that came with the PSPgo because using an older PSP power chord was too convenient.
- I plugged the PSPgo in and turned it on, heading straight to the PlayStation Store.
- Firmware update required.
- Downloaded firmware.
- Attempted to install firmware. Informed the PSPgo had not sufficiently charged.
- Waited. Watched some Christian evangelical television, which so far was more amusing and entertaining than my PSP experience that day.
- Firmware installed, PSN accessed, PSN cash card used.
- PSN cash card expired.
- PSN cash card expired.
- PSN cash card worked on the third attempt.
- Server timeout. PS Store closed down.
- Reconnected to the Internet, opened PlayStation Store again.
- Started to download Killzone: Liberation.
- Five hours after first digging my PSPgo from the closet, it was ready.
- Played a chapter. Got bored with the idea of the PSP. Played on the iPod.
If Sony could develop technology, possibly using science, in order to cut this process down to an hour, or at most two hours, then I think we've be living in a grand new era.
To have it made properly the first time around:
When a videogame ships with technical errors, it can be patched for the cost of an Internet connection. It's not cool and it encourages sloppy development, but at least there is a free recourse. When a game system is shipped with technical errors, it can be patched ... but you have to buy a whole new iteration of the console to get it.
The original PSP-1000 shipped with dead pixels, broken UMD trays, and an inordinate amount of dust that kept getting under the screen and was impossible to remove without the whole thing being taken apart. It would be utterly fantastic if Sony would design the PSP2 properly the first time around, rather than issuing the hardware equivalent of a $300 patch once per year.
To have a digital distribution method that isn't fucking insulting:
The release of the PSPgo made it appear, at first, as if Sony was getting serious about offering a competitive digital download solution. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a load of old wank because Sony made no efforts to commit to it. Digital versions of retail games were offered at full retail price, and were sometimes even more expensive than the likes of Amazon could offer physical copies. At one point, Amazon was selling the limited edition of Persona Portable, with fancy packaging and extra content, for less than the PlayStation Store was selling an unadorned digital copy. It was a fucking joke and a slap in the face to anybody who embraced digital content.
Oh, and lest we forget that many new releases went up on the PS Store a week late, or sometimes even longer. In the case of a few, they never went up at all!
This is before we get to PSP Minis, Sony's answer to mobile gaming applications. It was crap. It is crap. Games that were available on iTunes for peanuts were popping up on the PlayStation Store at inflated prices that completely failed to compete. Tetris, for example, launched at $10 on the PSP Minis channel, despite the exact same game selling for half the price on iTunes. Pathetic.
Sony itself did nothing to help the situation, passing the buck onto developers and saying it was their choice. Then we found out it was because developers needed to submit PSP Minis to the ESRB and Sony had nothing in place to help cover those costs. Sony, by absolving itself of all responsibility, condemned its own service to obscurity and pointlessness. Smooth move.
So yeah, maybe the PSP2 can do something that isn't that.
To boast a competent online experience:
Wi-fi has evolved since 2005, when the PSP-1000 first launched. You wouldn't believe it if you picked up a PSPgo though, which is still slower than a shitting snail and only half as stable. Many people download PSP games on their PS3s and then transfer them over because it's faster than using the PSP itself. Gamers shouldn't be introducing extra steps for themselves because it's more convenient than trying to do everything in one place.
Using the PSP to browse the Internet is pretty awful as well. What was once billed as the "Walkman of the 21st century" really isn't all that useful for much. My iPod Touch is fast, efficient, and gets the job done when I want to check my emails without stepping into the office. Simply thinking about using the PSP to do that makes me want to scoop my eyes out and shove them up my urethra.
If the PSP2 would like to be a useful, competent handheld device that competes with other portable entertainment systems, a fast Wi-fi capability that doesn't time out if you sneeze would be a must. Let's have a system that doesn't have to re-connect every time you close the browser, that doesn't take forever to load or download, and is actually enjoyable to take online. Do you think you could manage that, guys?
To not have it feel like it's made out of glass:
The Nintendo DS is durable and protected by its clamshell design. It's a system you feel could survive getting dropped a couple times. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that it's a system designed to survive in a portable environment. Imagine that!
The PSP, with its exposed screen, intricate design, flimsy case and focus on style over durability is not designed to survive in a portable environment. Scratches, scuffs and downright breakages haunt the PSP at every turn. Its weak buttons and thin, shiny surfaces require one to treat it like a baby with brittle bone disease. It looks absolutely gorgeous, I'll grant you that. But looks don't count for much if you can't survive outside of a comfy bedroom full of soft, fluffy pillows.
The PSP2 should be designed as a system you can actually take out of the house. It's crazy I know, but when I hear the word "portable" I don't just think "small." I believe portable means something that can be carried around safely and conveniently, not just something that fits in my pocket. Not that I'd dare keep a current PSP in my pocket. I'd be afraid of the fabric scratching it to shit.
To have some real software support:
Yes, we all know, the PSP has plenty of good games. It really does. In fact, Sony itself put out some really good titles this past year. But remember ... the PSP launched in 2005. When you spread the PSP's library over half a decade, it looks far less impressive. In fact, as stated above, my PSP sat in a closet for months. When I turned it on, there was a saved game state for Valhalla Knights 2. That's the last time I picked the bloody thing up.
The PSP2 needs to have some real publisher support, not just a decent game from Square Enix or Konami every couple of months. For some reason, developers aren't keen to put games on an expensive system that doesn't shift a lot of software and is plagued by piracy. Hopefully Sony can make the PSP2 more appealing for developers, in a way that doesn't boil down to, "Release loads of firmware updates that don't solve the problem."
Right now, the 3DS has a ton of support before release and that's what is making it appealing, far more than its analog nub, improved graphics and 3D shtick. Software is still important to this industry, and Sony forgot that with the first PSP. Maybe work on releasing more games this time around, rather than releasing a new PSP SKU every damn year.
To not have it built and marketed by a bunch of shitting chimps:
The PSP is a fantastic piece of technology. Unfortunately, it's fantastic technology that was put together and subsequently marketed by a group of apes who had no idea how to deal with the handheld market. Maybe the PSP2 can make portable media fun and fast to utilize, maybe it can be a flexible system that doesn't offer inferior methods of enjoying music, movies and games. The PSP has the tools to be a superior portable entertainment system, but those tools are being used by idiots. Get someone who understands the portable market behind the steering wheel and the PSP2 will be amazing.
The PSP2 could also stand to have some intelligent PR people working for it. No more schizophrenic advertising where the PSP is for adults one day, teenagers another day and kids the following week. That kind of bullshit doesn't inspire consumer confidence. Sony gives the impression that it doesn't know who the PSP is for, so why should a customer feel it's something they want? The PSP2 needs to pick a demographic and stick to it. Trying to appeal to everyone when you can't appeal to anyone doesn't work.
Oh, and no Marcus. DO. NOT. USE. MARCUS to advertise the PSP2. He's a fucking cunt and nobody likes him. Stop putting him in commercials.
Ever. Ever ever ever.
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