Yesterday, I talked a bit about the PSP Go and the fact that you will have to buy your accessories all over again. Today, I want to address Sony’s new digital direction with the PSP Go.
Like I stated yesterday, I have two PSP-1000 units and love them greatly. While I love them and am often attached to the hip with them thanks to my carry case with a belt loop, the curse of them is the UMD disks. Honestly, I don’t care the least bit about how much weight or size that the drive adds to the PSP. I don’t even care how much more battery it uses by running compared to a digital version of a game, but what I do care about are having working disks. If you have had a PSP for any length of time, you are probably well aware of the UMD breaking issues. For those that don’t know, the clear plastic on the front of the disk has the tendancy to partially break causing the disk to be out of place and only play a small percentage of the time. This is extremely annoying when you spend $40 or whatever on a new game. The fact that this has happened to nearly my entire UMD collection is the sole reason that I only pirate games on the system now (I freely admit to being cheap but it has no relevance here as I have always enjoyed paying for games compared to other forms of entertainment).
I am not alone in this as many people have taken to the haven of piracy to be able to play their games when they want. This is obvious when you look at the PSP piracy numbers. Luckily, I think that Sony has partially solved this problem with the PSP Go and its lack of a UMD drive. Personally, it takes away my reason for pirating games because the UMD problem will no longer exist except on my old PSPs which I will continue to play thanks to the wonders of homebrew. Sony’s decision to go digital only is a great way of combatting the UMD issue and piracy at the same time. Of course when it comes to piracy and hacking, this will likely mean very little. If you have followed the hacking and homebrew scene as much as I have since the first days of the PSP, you will know that often within days, if not hours of a new firmware release on the PSP, the hackers have not only bypassed the new security measures, but they are adding the new features into their own custom firmware. While I expect it to take a while for the hackers to break the PSP Go, I have complete faith in them that they will be running thier own code on the device within a month (this is my official prediction).
Unfortunately, the move to digital presents a new problem, storage. UMD disks are capable of storing 1.7GB worth of information. While not all games use that much space, when you consider the fact that the PSP Go has a 16GB internal drive, you are going to run out of space very quickly. With Sony’s announcement that you will also be able to download movies and tv shows to the PSP, that internal drive is looking even smaller. I believe this is going to be the main problem point for the PSP. Sure, you will still have the Memory Stick Pro Duos that you can put in the device, but any pirate will tell you that having your content on them is a major pain. Speaking for experience, having to put games on Memory Sticks will end up with you having a small pile of memory sticks with little knowledge of what content is on which stick. If this wasn’t bad enough, the sticks still aren’t that cheap for larger capacities. I will admit that they have come down considerably since the time of the PSP launch when you were lucky if you could get a 1GB stick off of ebay for $150 (same when the 2GB came out and so on), but it still adds a large chunch to the overall cost of the device. If you only have a few games, this isn’t really an issue, but if you want to use the device for gaming like it is intended, this could be a real hassle.
Ultimately, I think this is a good strategy despite its flaws if for no other reason than it fixes the UMD issue. While I will admit that details are still a little scarce, I think this is the direction that they must head but if they don’t do it right, it will screw the customer severely as well as themselves. Here is to hoping that they do what is best for the consumer instead of their bottom line!