I’ve been decidedly downbeat about the prospects of Sony in the console wars (here, and even more jaundiced, here), not from any personal animus– after all, I still fire up my PS2 for a few quick rounds of DDR often– but frankly, because the folks at Xbox and Nintendo seem to keep making the right moves, while Sony seems to flub one every other week.
I didn’t even mention the recent news that the PS3’s EU debut had been delayed to 2007, irking some European gamers so much that they tweaked the company’s official EU slogan, “This is living“, to, well, “This is waiting.” (Whoops, guess I just did.)
So it’s nice for a change to give Sony genuine props.
Recently interviewed in a Japanese magazine (helpfully translated by Ars Technica) Sony Japan’s platform development head Izumi Kawanishi announces that in November, the PSP will come with a classic game download service, available in conjunction with the PS3’s worldwide launch. (Well, in Asia and the US, anyway.) Downloadable movies will also be available, both of which will be accessed through either a broadband-enabled PC or Playstation 3. No word yet on the games that’ll be available, but considering the enormous success Xbox Live Arcade has had with classic coin-op era titles, it’s a smart move. Putting their overly harsh and self-defeating DRM policies with the PSP aside for a moment, this could be Sony’s best play to turn their handheld into a video-enabled iPod for gamers. Linking it with PS3’s broadband service is also a clever way to create a mothership-shuttle relationship between their living room and handheld consoles– an incentive for PSP owners to swallow the Playstation 3’s steep pricetag, and pony up.
Given recent past history, I’m half expecting to update this story with news that Sony has cancelled or delayed this service. But for now at least, this post is the company’s moment to shine once again (if briefly) among gamers.