I am the owner of a PSPgo. Sure, it's an expensive piece of hardware, but it has a few features I love:
- Fast loading times off of flash memory.
- Carrying a lot of games without a pile of UMDs.
- Pausing games with save state.
- Smaller form-factor.
The downside to the PSPgo is that my only option for getting new PSP games is waiting until they are added to the PlayStation Store. I was hopeful for a way to convert UMDs into digital copies, but that plan was eventually scrapped by Sony.
I'm a big fan of digital distribution, but only when it provides more convenience than driving out to the store or having a game shipped in the mail. The PlayStation Store already suffers from a built-in two-day lag time for new games that results from Sony only publishing new digital content on Thurdays while most games are released or ship to retailers on Tuesdays.
I was really looking forward to the PSP version of BlazBlue, which released while I was on the road at GDC 2010. I even went through the trouble of turning my MacBook into a base station to share my hotel Internet so I could download it then and there. Only, it wasn't put up on the PlayStation Store.
Last week, in its second week since release, it again was left out of the Thursday update and was still not available for any PSPgo owners. Now, this is a niche title, but imagine what would happen if a game like Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was at least two weeks late for Go owners? Is the publisher to blame here or is Sony? Sony director of hardware marketing John Koller told Shacknews:
Our guidance to first party development studios and third party publishers/developers is to launch both UMD and digital software day and date. In general, we've had a fairly strict adherence to this recommendation. That said, third party publishers are free to determine their software launch strategy per their respective business models. Publishers are free to price and launch their titles as they see fit, and thus we expect some variance on physical and digital launch timing from time to time.
If this is the case, publishers need to get on board with digital distribution, especially for niche titles. It doesn't make any sense to release a game digitally 3 weeks after it is available at retail.
With rumors of Sony gearing up to announce the PSP's successor at this year's E3, many are concerned that the PSPgo will be caught in transition between the new and old, especially if the rumored PSP 2 doesn't rely heavily on digital distribution. Is Sony abandoning the PSPgo? John Koller says no, in the same statement:
We've been very open that our strategy for the PSP platform is two-fold - the PSP-3000 system caters to those consumers that enjoy the tangible media experience, while the PSPgo system caters to consumers with a growing demand for digital content. We respect both the digital and UMD consumer equally and as such, both UMD and digital formats remain vital to the PSP platform.
Time will tell. If the PSP 2 is being announced at E3, I would like two things to go along with the reveal: backwards compatibility (a must) and mandatory day-and-date digital releases for all games.