Sunday, October 25, 2009

PSP Go Green?

The buzz on the PSP Go, Sony's new handheld gaming console, is that it's the latest of Sony's many missteps this console generation. Ars Technica finds it to be a poor value compared to the older versions of the PSP, while Destructoid struggles to find the positives.

I've never been interested enough in the PSP to buy one, but I hope that the Go succeeds. It is, to my knowledge, the first gaming system with an expanding library that does not use physical media. I would like to see all video and computer gaming systems abandon physical media in favor of the environmentally better option of digital distribution. Perhaps the PSP should have and could have done this from its first launch in 2005 rather than burden stores and users with a whole new (and eventually failed) physical medium, the Universal Media Disc.

It's unfortunate that the game acquisition process on the PSP Go is apparently cumbersome, that owners of UMD games cannot transfer the games to the Go for free, and that the Go requires its own proprietary cables (another environmental failure). But if I wanted a PSP, I'd probably get the Go. The lack of physical media appeals to me. And there does seem to be significant progress in making the PSP library available online; of the five PSP games I'd consider buying (Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, Jeanne D'Arc, Patapon 2, and Yggdra Union), four are available on the PlayStation Store. That's not bad.

Even if the Go fails, it is notable as a gaming system that requires no cartridges or discs. I hope that Sony is able to improve its digital distribution infrastructure to make the Go more attractive to gamers. Perhaps Sony could have countered some of the criticism by proposing the Go as an environmentally safer handheld system.

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