Handheld gaming war heats up as Sony announces NGP

Originally Published 30th January 2011 on TVNZ.co.nz

Sony PlayStation has announced details of its next generation portable gaming console in a move it hopes will help increase market share in the lucrative portable gaming market.

The new device, codenamed NGP, will replace the PlayStation Portable (PSP) but consumers won’t be able to get their hands on it until it is released in late 2011.

Details released by Sony show a stylish machine packed with high-end technology and the reaction from mobile gaming fans has been mostly positive.

Twitter comments have been running steadily overnight with discussion about the so-called PSP2. One of the key questions asked is “how much will it cost?” Sony has not released pricing details but with such advanced technology it is unlikely to be cheap. There were also brickbats for Sony’s decision to create a new proprietary media format for games on the NGP. Users will have to buy game titles on a dedicated flash card. Twitter user @tnkgrl tweeted “Can’t believe the #PSP2 is using yet another new type of card, from the looks of it. Seriously, Sony are you kidding us?”

Despite that, the machines spec’s are impressive.

The NGP will have a high-performance processor and graphics engine, allowing it to run visually stunning images on a super-bright 5 inch OLED screen. It will connect to networks via wi-fi and GPS, allowing users to connect with fellow game-players from a variety of locations.

It will also come equipped with two cameras, one front and one rear facing, as well as three motion sensors, a gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass.

Sony hope to encourage social gaming by equipping every game title for the NGP with a space called LiveArea. NGP users will be able to view an activity log that is constantly updated with accomplishments from users who are playing the same game, which in turn can trigger active real-time communication among users.

For Sony, this could be a make or break product after disappointing sales of its recent PSP Go and increased competition in the segment. Market leader Nintendo, who launched the ground breaking GameBoy system in 1989, will roll out a 3D version of their successful DS system this March. Meanwhile Apple, who don’t have a dedicated games console, continue to promote their iPod touch as “the most popular portable game player in the world.” Apple sell large volumes of games such as Angry Birds and Assassins Creed through their online App Store.