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PSPGo… to Hell!
By Julie

If you haven’t already heard, Sony is coming out with a new PSP.  The news was “leaked” in the days leading up to E3, and then confirmed at the actual show.  Besides a difference in size (it’s smaller) and layout (it slides open to reveal the control buttons), the main difference, which is also the difference I want to talk  about, is that software for the PSPGo will be available by download only, with no port for UMDs.


Now, I don’t want to seem like I am upset that they are getting rid of the UMD, because I have always thought it was stupid.  If I’m portable gaming, that means I’m on the bus or wherever, and a tiny, fragile cd does not seem the optimal choice for rough and tumble environments.  Then there’s the UMD plastic case things that you need to make the game work, which is an even worse idea.  So if Sony had announced that they were dropping the UMD in favour of a cartridge, which is more suitable for gaming on the go, I may have applauded them. Unfortunately, that is not what they did, and are therefore not deserving of my applause.  They can have some scorn, though.  Maybe I’ll even give them the finger.  We’ll see.

I wrote a post once about how much I hate that gaming moved away from cartridges (solid, dependable circuits made to last), and towards CDs/DVDs (two flimsy plastic discs surrounding a razor thin, ultra sensitive sheet of tin foil that will no longer function in 50 years).  As a collector, this upsets me, but I try not to dwell on it.  In that same article, Chris posted in his two cents that eventually all games will be distributed digitally, and even CDs will be eliminated.  While deep down in my soul I knew this to be true, it seemed so distant and theoretical that it wasn’t something I let myself worry about.  Sort of how I know that one day our sun will go supernova, but I’ll be dead by then, so I don’t care.

Now, thanks to Sony and their PSPGo, it’s like I found out that not only is the sun going to explode in my lifetime, but it’s exploding right now.  So… that is bad.  If I made a list of all the things I know will eventually happen, but don’t expect to happen anytime soon, it might include things like: someone finding a cure for AIDS, redhead extinction, and babies being microchipped at birth.  I would have placed all of those things before a video game console coming out that contained no place to put actual video games.  Yeah, I know digital distribution is all the rage now, but I figured there would still be a hole in the damn thing somewhere for games I actually purchased in a store.

The downsides to this development are too numerous to mention, which I’ll actually disprove right now by mentioning some of them.  Firstly, as a collector, I like to own things.  The move to DVDs left me sitting on a pile of games that have a life expectancy shorter than my own, which was bad enough, but now I’ll own games that aren’t even tangible in any way.  That sucks, because when I die I want to own lots of crap.  Crap that still works and also physically exists.  Secondly, the fact that I’m complaining about this is making me feel like an old person, which, if you don’t know me personally, I can tell you that I am not.  I don’t want to one day say something like “when I was a kid we bought games at the store, and had to physically put them in the machine”, unless of course it’s followed by the phrase “just like you do now”.  Clinging to a dying medium is the dominion of the elderly, but I’m not letting physical games go without a lot of kicking and screaming and angry blogging.  You won’t be able to lend games to friends anymore.  No more renting, no more trading, no more buying games used.  No more EB Games, which is great, but at the expense of no more sweet garage sale finds?  I don’t know if that’s a world I want to live in.

Some of those things are still a ways down the road, but the PSPGo is the beginning of the end for physical gaming media.  Once industry types see how great it is to cut out shipping and manufacturing costs while also wiping out rental and used game losses, it’ll be a no brainer.  And I’ll always blame Sony for starting it.

In addition to touting this discless functionality as a “feature” when it is obviously not, Sony is branding the PSPGo as  “The most portable PSP® ever”.  What does that even mean?  How can something become more portable?  If you pick it up and take it with you, congratulations, you have bestowed the gift of portability.  While I will accept that a PSP is easier to move than, say, a ferris wheel, shaving a few centimetres and half an ounce off your handheld does not make it “more portable”.  It was, and continues to be, suitable for transporting.  I would have gone with “The most dumb PSP® ever”, or “”The PSP® that will single handedly destroy all that gamers hold sacred.”

Did you know that the PSP is “the most successful non-Nintendo handheld game system ever sold”.  Wow!  What an accomplishment!  Take that Game Gear!  Suck it N-Gage!  It’s not even like Sony is the Pepsi to Nintendo’s Coke.  In the world of handheld gaming there is no close second.  Nintendo dominates  (Last year DS sales were more than five times PSP sales).  So I’ve decided that until the next GameBoy (I know, they don’t call them that anymore, but I can’t help it) moves to download-only software, I’m going to try not to get too worried.  Chris bought a PSP, but I’ve never played it, so if I just stick my head in the sand about this PSPGo thing, I can pretend that it’s still 2004, and downloadable console games are a far off dream, like a rocket car, or the release of Duke Nukem Forever.  I figure I can live in denial for the next couple of years until the next gen home consoles come out, and I notice that they’re missing a certain something… like the place where you put the game.

Screw you Sony.

Yup, as soon I read the news about the PSPGo not having a UMD slot, I knew it was going to make Julie upset…and I was right.  I still don’t think she has too much to worry about in the near term.  Current internet limitations (especially those imposed by certain ISPs) make downloading large scale games still seem like a distant fantasy.  Of course that day will come eventually but it’s going to take more than just a Microsoft or a Sony saying ‘it is so’ to make it a reality.

Besides, shops like EBGames are not about to sit idly by and watch their only viable source of revenue, used games, go away.  Although they’re not entirely in a position of power on the matter, they will definitely put up a stink about digital distribution being the only form of game delivery in the future.  I just thought up one solution…EBGames could sell memory sticks with games pre-loaded on them.  Then people would have an extra incentive (the physical stick that they could appropriate to any number of purposes) to buy their games in a store and not online.  Perhaps that’s also the worst idea ever.  Who knows?  It’s a brave new world people.  Leave your discs on the Mayflower and set foot in the land of digital distribution.

4 Comments • Comments RSSTrackBack URI
  1. kdogoblingbling
    2009-07-31 16:23

    I’m not sure if I should post this, since it might make Julie a bit more angry, but the cartridges games have about the same shelf life as CDs and DVDs, if not less. (so long as you store CDs and DVDs properly, which I assume you do) Now, I’m not going to “pretend” that I’m an expert in electronic device failure, but the semiconductor devices in the cartridges will fail after sometime, even if not in use. Most devices, in fact, are only qualified to last between 20-30 year, however in the consumer market this can some times go down to 10-15 years, this is particularly true of older semiconductor devices. Just a tip, if you want them to last, store them in a dry, i.e. low humidity, environment.

  2. 2009-08-03 9:50

    It’s not so much their undisturbed shelf life, as their susceptibility to damage. CD vs Cartridge handling procedures are obviously quite different. Plus, there’s the issue of the actual motors and lasers in the CD drives, whereas cartridge systems are more reliable. If I had to place a bet, I’d wager on my N64 working 10 years from now over my PS2. In fact, I already lost a PS2 disc motor, while my Atari is still going strong.

  3. briar
    2009-08-05 20:23

    This article brings back memories of blowing on my Nintendo cartridges so I could play Track and Field, only to get carpal tunnel syndrome from the 100 meter dash.

  4. d-bear
    2009-08-11 15:37

    No more lending games to friends? Hell, I’d welcome that, given the Grand Tour of East Ottawa that my copy of Final Fantasy 3 embarked on when I lent it to Rob in High School… :P

    All kidding aside, I’ve never been a big “collector” in the physical possession sense – I welcomed digital download acquisition for music because I got sick of trying to find a place for all those damned CD cases. So, this wouldn’t bend me out of shape *too* much, especially since I’ve never really been into the handheld gaming world – I never asked for a GameBoy for Christmas when I was young… the rest is history :)

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