Asspoint of the Month: No Go?

To Go or not to Go?

As Torgo keeps pointing out to me, I’ve been slacking on posting things to the site. I’ve got my excuses, mostly valid, but that doesn’t matter so here I am with the first in hopefully a monthly series of Asspoints. I wrestled with the topic for a while originally planning to write about how this console generation sucks, then decided to bitch about how I have too many games instead. In thinking about those topics, it brought me to the one I finally settled on… the PSP, or rather the more topical PSP Go.

Wrestling once again with the realization I have more games than I could ever play in this lifetime, I started to think about what one system I would keep out of the current generation if I could only choose one. Much to my surprise I think that would actually be the PSP. A handheld system I used to mock along with all the other GBA & DS fans! It has no games, it’s too big, the controls suck, UMD lolz, etc. You get the idea. Some of those criticisms were pretty valid even up to a year or two after the PSP’s launch. Somewhere along the way though, it became valid in my eyes. Games I was interested in like platformers, turn-based strategy, shmups and RPGs began to trickle in. The PSP-2000 redesign fixed a lot of the flaws in the original model. Hell, even a few of my favorite series like Ys and Phantasy Star have made current appearances. I finally got one and couldn’t believe how long I’d ignored it! And now that Sony’s woken up and realized they need to push the handheld they forgot they had, it’s getting even better. Sure there are still downsized PS3 and even PS2/Wii ports, but so what? In a lot of cases those games are just as enjoyable as their big brothers and portable to boot. It’s all adding to the one thing that people claim the PSP didn’t have: content.

Now Sony is launching the latest and greatest version of my surprisingly favorite system, the PSP Go. Absurdly priced at $250.00 USD and lacking a UMD drive to play my library of games, I’m both excited and disgusted by it. Why excited? For one, I love new toys, especially tech so of course I want one. Even more so after playing with it at E3. I think it’s a great redesign and seems like it may be more comfortable to play than the current model, although I do still have misgivings about the analog placement. The built-in memory is a huge plus and being able to just download your games to have at the ready is very appealing. I’m not gonna lie, I think Custom Firmware on the current PSP is really cool (but fuck all you pirates for nearly killing the system, god damn asshats). My number one feature is being able to take games I own and rip them to a memory stick so I don’t have to cart around an assload of UMD’s and now the PSP Go is basically built around that concept. Except of course, for the most important thing, being able to rip your own purchased games. I happen to have a very large collection of PSP games that I would not be able to play on the PSP Go and I’m sure as hell not going to repurchase them all. Of course I can just hold on to my old 2000, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose of portability and convenience if I suddenly have to carry around two systems? Part of my disgust is the fact Sony has yet to comment any more about this when the system’s launch is so close. I think that’s pretty telling actually. I doubt they’ll do anything. They’ll position the Go as an alternate system until UMD’s and the old model are finally phased out somewhere down the road. You’ll be forced to hang onto your legacy hardware to play UMD games and be stuck re-buying all your games if you want to play them on the Go (pun not intended). Essentially, if you already have a PSP, you aren’t really the customer they’re aiming for.

Then there’s that 800-lb. Gorilla in the room, the Go’s price. Seriously, what is Sony thinking? For $50 more you can buy a PS3! If I didn’t have either system, I’d honestly be hard-pressed to choose the PSP over the PS3 even if it did have a lot of games that appealed to me. The PSP 3000 costs $80 less, will do most of the same things (given a large enough memory stick) plus lets you play all the legacy UMD titles you can buy cheaper in an actual store (new or used) than you can on the PSN. If they really want this thing to succeed, I just don’t understand why it’s priced so high. Even as a brand new PSP customer I couldn’t help but see the 3000 as a far better deal. Really, the only way I can recommend the Go over the 3000 is if you have money to burn, don’t want to deal with buying memory sticks or greatly prefer the new form factor. It’s ludicrous. Everyone seems to be holding their breath for a Go price drop before it launches, but I’ll be shocked if that happens. I don’t think they’ll drop it unless it sells like crap compared to the 3000.

Despite my bitching, I do think the PSP Go is a necessary upgrade for the PSP. Piracy is coming dangerously close to killing the platform so a closed, digital-only solution is a logical move. Like I said above, I enjoy having a library of games right on the system and by limiting PSP purchases to the PSN Store, Sony can keep close tabs on the software. Retailers however, will hate this for obvious reasons. They aim to lose the most from diminished software sales and as we’ve seen, some European retailers are already calling the Go a failure and refusing to stock it. Sony’s really put themselves in a precarious position with this thing and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Do I still want a Go? Yeah, I’ll admit it. I do. Chalk it up to that “gotta have it!” mentality I get with video games. Chances are I’ll even be buying PSP games off of PSN from now on since they still work fine on the previous models and if I do buy a Go, I can use them. Will I buy one at launch? Considering the price, the fact I’m broke right now and my wife would kill me, hell no. And if you’re planning to buy a PSP for the first time, I still think you should pick up the 3000 instead.

Where was I going with this? I don’t even know anymore, but I still love the PSP even if this dual-system strategy seems like a bad idea. That’s probably all that matters.

-Mark

p.s.–The digital distribution vs. physical copy of a game is an argument for another time. :-p

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Written by Mark Senger

Glenn’s second co-host on the podcast , Mark graced the airwaves from late 2007 to early 2010.

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