Sony's PSP2 Videogame Strategy -â€" Do What Apple Did, Just a Generation Later

Last Updated May 19, 2010 11:25 AM EDT

Sony (SNE) is finally starting to make a profit from the PlayStation 3, but it obviously doesn't have its portable game together. According to VG247, several sources leaked the stats on the new PlayStation Portable -- the maligned also-ran console trampled by the Nintendo (NTO) DS and, later, the Apple iPhone/iPod Touch. Unfortunately, the tentatively-titled PSP2 seems to follow the blueprint of last generation's PSPgo: Do whatever Apple did last generation.

Here's Patrick Garratt from VG247:

  • PSP2 has two cameras, one forward and one backward facing.
  • It has a touch-screen, but apparently it has retained the trademark physical PlayStation buttons.
  • UK sources were previously working towards a "2010″ release. This is now "2011″.
  • One source would be "amazed" if there was any kind of physical media involved. We've been told it "could" be 3G-enabled, as opposed to the WiFi-only PSP go. This bit was sketchy.
  • Multiple PSP2 games are being made in Britain right now. Some have even already been canned.
  • There have been "finished units" in the UK, but we haven't spoken to anyone that's seen a final case.
  • When asked directly about reveal timing, one source said, "If the games were aiming for end 2010, beginning 2011, and now it's a 2011 release, I'd say a gamescom or TGS announce for launch early next year".
Sound familiar? It should -- the PSP2 is already shaping up to be a poor man's iPhone 4 (or, perhaps with Sony's high-priced track record, a rich man's one). As revelead in the Gizmodo dust-up last month, the next iPhone is expected to have dual cameras, a powerful processor, the traditional touchscreen and the 3G/Wi-Fi connectivity. The iPhone 4 will be announced next month and available later in the summer. Meanwhile, the PSP2 isn't expected to be available until "sometime next year".

Video game innovation usually has some imitation, as with the upcoming Sony Move and Microsoft (MSFT) Project Natal following the Nintendo Wii's popular motion control system. The issue here is that Sony just tried to emulate the iPhone with its forgettable PSPgo. Released just nine months ago, the PSPgo dropped the solid, popular PSP aesthetic for a light, flimsy design. Worse, the new design required purchasing the whole PSP game catalog over again -- turning off gamers who had been loyal PSP users for years.

Believe it or not, Sony has a strong advantage over both Apple and Nintendo (which is coming out with a 3D handheld, natch). Sony should adjust its strategy:

  • Bring great games: A 2008 spin-off from the stunning PlayStation God of War series was the last must-have PSP game. Unlike Nintendo, Sony's major franchises lay dormant on the home consoles while the portable games flounder.
  • Respect the loyal users: Sony claimed more than 50 million PSPs were sold by early 2009. That summer it launched the PSPgo that only accepted downloadable games -- making previously bought game discs useless. Users could either repurchase their catalog (at $40/pop), or move on to the exceedingly popular Nintendo DS or Apple iPhone/iPod Touch. No word on whether the PSP2 will accept game discs, but Sony should try to make amends with the loyal gamers waiting to play their Sony titles.
To recap: Apple will have its iPhone 4 available in a couple months, which will be followed shortly after by Nintendo with its 3DS portable console. Sony will likely have its PSP2 out next year -- probably around the time Apple comes out with its next iPhone -- and, unless it changes direction, Sony will be playing catch-up once again. Related: