So I've been using my PSP a lot lately for various reasons (MotorStorm Arctic Edge, Half-Minute Hero, and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver to name a few) and I realized something. The PSP kind of kicks ass. That seems really weird. I picked mine up at the beginnning of 2008, thinking that the platform was entering its death throws, and that I would get in on the hand full of worth while games that I had missed. I had no particular reason to think that the PSP was dying, except that the PSP was, at the time, four years old, and had not sold astonishingly well like the DS had. I kind of went on thinking this though. There was a steady trickle of good games that game along, usually at the rate of one every other month or so, and I would play them, think how awesome they were, then promptly forget about my PSP until the next. And so it went. Sometimes a new feature would pique my intrest for a few days. The downloadable stuff was cool. It just had the same PSP problem. It came in fits and spurts.
A frankly bizarre thing happened. Round about August of this year things completely changed. Suddenly there were new, good games every week instead of every other month. I started to have my PSP with me a lot more. Just from the friction of having it with me all the time, I started to notice all of the little features and how they added up to be pretty incredible. The media playback on this this is great. I only have a 4 gig stick so putting much on it is out of the question, but the PS3 remote play stuff is fantastic. As long as I left my PS3 running (which admitadlly was something I had to consciously do and that kind of bugged me) I could watch or listen to any of the stuff on my home network. That kind of blew my mind. My iPhone literally has nothing on that, short of setting up a server and remote access with a $25 dollar app. It didn't matter that I had no room since I could stream anything I wanted. Fantastic. Almost every PS1 game that you could care about is up on the store now by the way. O yeah, and there are several fantastic downloadable games. Web-browsing is a little wonky, but there is for realsies Skype (if you have a headset or a 3000 or go).
All of this is what makes the PSP go so mindboglingly disasterous. It seems to just straight up ignore all of the potential of the system. As is, the PSP go is a fairly succesful iPod touch competitor. The go trumps the touch in downloaded media play back in general quality and codec support, which, along with the built in streaming capabilities, makes the go kind of a crazy powerhouse if you have a PS3. If you want retail quality game-ass-games as Jeff Gerstmann puts it, the go is far superior to the touch. I love me some iGames, but the comparison between the latest time waster for 99 cents and Little Big Planet just isn't fair. Apps are great, but if you are restricted to wi-fi only, how useful do they really become? If you are a "gamer" then you want a go instead of a touch.
Except that it is more expensive than the touch. Is it really worth it to pay almost $100 more for a device that has less features and a few more gigs of storage? Then the crazy execs had to start comparing it to the iPhone. Which is a terrbile comparison. An always on device is a whole different beast. We haven't even seen all of the potential for a device like that yet. The crazy thing is that the go could have been such a device. It could have been a completely new kind of device that expanded the PSP in new and exciting ways, but Sony chose mediocrity over excellence.
Let me explain. I am not suggesting making the go into a phone directly. With one small hardware edition and a change in marketing/distribution this could have been great. Just add a 3G antanea. It is only marginally more expensive so far as the actual cost of parts goes so the price should be relatively unaffected. Bear with me, I know this sounds suspiciously like a phone but it is something subtly, but importantly, different. Instead of making it into a phone, just sell it as a data-only device.
This solves a huge problem and opens up huge possibilities. Sony can go ahead and sell the $249 version, but then sell a subsidized device for at least as cheap as $149, maybe even $99. Now remember, Skype is built into the PSP go. You now have a $30 data plan on an amazing multimedia device that you can make calls on for very cheap (you know, Skype Out for a few cents a minute). I don't know about you, but I could see myself actually considering that as opposed to my nearly $100 a month iPhone bill. At the very least it would make it way more interesting.