Pocket Gamer

The Pocket Gamer Report: PSPgo – The Sega Dreamcast of This Generation?


You have to feel sorry for the PSPgo. Very much the whelp of the school playground, this much-maligned device has had dust kicked in its face by pretty much everyone within the videogame industry (including Pocket Gamer, we’re ashamed to admit).

It may have also received a few atomic-wedgies courtesy of us, too. Again, we can only apologize.

However, for all its faults, shortcomings, and issues, the PSPgo is actually way ahead of the curve. In many ways, it’s this generation’s Sega Dreamcast; the pioneer that charts the frontiers of a brave new world, yet cruelly doesn’t live to enjoy it.

The Dreamcast was the first home console to come with internet functionality out of the box. It also took the bold step of featuring off-the-shelf, PC-based internal architecture (as well as the ability to output in gorgeous VGA), and would pave the way for the net-ready video game consoles we enjoy today.

Sadly, Sega had to pull the plug on this underrated console in the face of spiraling debt and an urgent need to refocus on third-party publishing. For all of its visionary charm, the Dreamcast ultimately remains a footnote in the history of our beloved medium.

The PSPgo is similarly forward-thinking: While Apple has arguably beaten Sony to the punch when it comes to digital downloads, the Japanese manufacturer is the first of the old guard to launch a dedicated gaming device that doesn’t rely on physical media to function.

On paper this seems like a pretty logical approach: Portable consoles are all about size and convenience, and having to carry around a load of discs or cartridges flies in the face of this ethos.

However, Sony is the first gaming-centric company to actually take the brave step of going download-only, and while this move has incurred the wrath of gamers and retailers alike, it’s quite obviously the future of the industry.

Within a few years, the notion of walking into a shop to purchase a game will be as outdated as performing the same procedure to purchase a music CD. The iPhone has proven that digital distribution is easier, cheaper, and actually benefits developers more directly than the traditional middle man method that involves the costly production of physical items, transportation costs, and retailer mark-up.

Of course there’s every chance that the PSPgo is merely a grand experiment by Sony, and that the company fully expected the format to struggle. There’s a definite learning curve here and electronics giants will obviously want to be ahead of the competition by the time the next round of portable pugilism begins.

The real question is – will Sony be contesting with Nintendo or Apple in the next great handheld war?

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

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