Those of us interested in the gaming community, as well as in all things Apple, are probably aware that Sony is set to introduce the PSPgo, a UMD-less follow-up to its PlayStation Portable handheld gaming device. The PSPgo will rely on downloadable, rather than disc or cartridge-based media, like a certain phone/media player from our beloved Apple. One might say they’re poised to compete with one another.
According to news released today, that assumption appears to be right on the money. Sony announced 15 launch titles for its PSP Mini line, with Minis being the equivalent of the iPhone’s apps. Minis will be available to all PSPs, not just the new PSPgo, but the downloadable titles are clearly designed to bolster sales of the new hardware. You’ll recognize at least a few of those titles, including Fieldrunners and Hero of Sparta, from the App Store.
Tetris and MiniGore round out the list of iPhone apps that will be getting the direct port treatment. Sony handpicked all the titles because of their success in the App Store. 50 more titles are promised for inclusion in the Mini line by the end of 2009, and I’m assuming that a good number of those will likewise be App Store success stories.
First of all, let me just say that as a gamer, this announcement excites me greatly. I love many iPhone games, including all of those announced today as PSP Mini titles, but I hate iPhone controls (Rolando being the exception). Ninety-five percent of the games I’ve played on the iPhone would’ve been infinitely more enjoyable on the DS or PSP. And now it looks like Sony is going to pick the cream of the crop and make that a reality.
Will it affect Apple’s App Store sales? Yes, because I (and gamers like me) will probably wait for a PSP Mini release of most titles, even if it’s available for both platforms. Will it kill the iPhone as a gaming device? No way, because the PSPgo will have a much smaller audience than the iPhone, and casual gamers will continue to play on their phones, mostly because many of them won’t buy a handheld gaming console.
In the end, the user wins. Being able to target multiple platforms will prompt more and better development efforts from studios, and Sony will shoulder the arduous task of filtering through the thousands of throwaway apps to bring avid gamers quality content via the Mini platform. If Minis are a success, and Sony sees the wisdom of putting a phone in its PSP, then we’ll see some sparks fly. Until then, sit back and enjoy the fruits of a little mutually beneficial jostling for attention.