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The Pocket Gamer Report: PSP's Mutiny

Pocket Gamer | 10 Oct 2009 21:00
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The jury might still be out on whether you should buy a PSPgo , but there should be no doubt in your mind about whether indulging in some of the new Minis range is a good idea.

The simultaneous release of the new PSPgo hardware and Minis range of games has given the latest iteration of Sony's portable, several cheap launch titles to boast about. The PSPgo's controversial pricing and the maelstrom of negative press, however, might end up becoming an albatross around the neck of Sony's first good idea in ages.

Say what you like about the PSPgo, but there's no denying the quality of the Minis launch line-up. Titles such as Kahoots , Fieldrunners and Bloons finally deliver affordable casual gaming to the platform and without detracting from the PSP's fancypants triple A titles.

Part of the problem seems to be a small measure of confusion about the compatibility of the Minis range. By using the Minis as a unique selling point for the PSPgo, Sony risks confusing less savvy gamers (i.e. exactly the casual gamers it's trying to snare) into thinking that the Minis range is unique to the new hardware.

A quick visit to many forum threads covering the new PSP and Minis range confirms the frequent occurrence of this assumption. It's an understandable mistake and the irony is that now existing PSP owners finally have their first good reason to turn on their PSP in months some of them are missing the party and, worse still, feeling excluded.

Of course, there are many gamers out there completely averse to the idea of Minis games and the idea of digital distribution in general. Questions about the pride of ownership aside, one of the big worries again seems to be price, and in particular how the lack of boxed retail software eliminates a large chunk of the second-hand market.

It's a curious argument - it's hard to imagine what sort of resell value a game like Fieldrunners, which only costs £3.99 new, would have were it served up in an over-the-counter box.

Granted, the new Minis range is going to make the second-hand market something of a deserted colony on PSP, but surely a steady flow of cheap, enjoyable new games beats a comparably cheap drip-fed second-hand supply?

Would you rather pay £3.99 for a download only copy of a new game like Kahoots, or would you feel like you were missing out on an opportunity when faced with a bargain bin copy of Tekken Dark Resurrection or Wipeout Pure for £5.99? Let's remember, Sony is still actively supporting the PSP 3000 and UMD, so if you answered 'yes' to the last question, you're still thoroughly catered for.

Ironically, those PSP owners who stick to the second-hand market for their games are at least partially responsible for the direction Sony is now taking. People have voted with their wallets and made it clear that for a handheld game, £7-15 rather than £25-35 for a tends to be more acceptable.

The PSP Minis range delivers games at this price point with a business model that's sustainable for Sony. So what's the problem?

Pocket Gamer is Europe's leading source of news, opinion and reviews on mobile and handheld gaming.

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