Last night Sony revealed the successor to the PSP. Currently codenamed NGP, this device appears to follow along the traditional Sony path of throwing as much tech into a system as they can. As impressive as the NGP is, and despite the games that are coming out for it, we have to ask: how much is too much for a portable system?
During the Sony event we saw Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid, and even a Call of Duty game announced for the system. Sony showed off some augmented reality using the cameras on the device, and talked about NGP's online functionality with Near and LiveArea. What Sony didn't talk about was price.
An OLED screen, two actual analog sticks, a touch pad, a touch screen, and 3G all sound like amazing additions to a handheld, but could potentially have a substantial impact on its price. Eurogamer caught up with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's Andrew House and asked what his thoughts were on the price:
"I can't put a ballpark on it in terms of figures, but what I would say is that we will shoot for an affordable price that's appropriate for the handheld gaming space."
House also went on to say that Sony expects to sell the handheld at a profit from day one, crushing any ideas of Sony potentially selling the device at a loss to get it into as many hands as possible.
Shu Yoshida, the President of Worldwide Studios for Sony, also had some thoughts on the price of the device. Speaking to Game Informer, Yoshida stated:
"From the very beginning of the project - since 2008 - pricing was one of the considerations that we had. Hopefully when we announce the price, people will see the proper value. It's not going to be $599."
Two different Sony executives, two different ways of dodging the question. Combine the two together and you can kind of guess what range of price you will be looking at. House's "affordable" probably means in the $250 3DS price range, though it could also be as high as the 64 GB iPod Touch's $399 price.
Yoshida's quote could be viewed as the most troublesome. Saying that when Sony announces the price they hope people will see the value of the device tells me that they know it is going to be a cringe inducing amount of money.
On the other end of the spectrum we have the beloved Michael Pachter, the Wedbush Securities analyst who loves making predictions about the video game industry. He has already declared the NGP the loser in this battle. While everyone else appears to be suggesting a $300 or higher price point, he predicts a lower $250 price point to compete with the 3DS:
"It’s a pretty impressive device, the screen is relatively expensive, and the features set suggests to me that we’ll see something in the $249/â‚¬249/£199 range. There is a lot to like, and Sony has a huge library of content. The device looks pretty powerful, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some pretty sophisticated games, and the 3G capability and relationship with Android means we’ll see a ton of Android apps on the device as well."
That is all we know so far about the price of the NGP -- just a big guess. An industry analyst thinks it will be on par with the 3DS, while most everyone else expects it to be higher. Reading in between the lines of the Sony executives' quotes, it does appear that they may be thinking a higher price point.
Once E3 rolls around, we should learn the price. By that time Sony will have a few months data on how well the 3DS is being received and they can price from there. If the 3DS is generating the kind of attention the Wii did at launch, Sony may want to take the hit and put it out at $250 to stay competitive. If the 3DS is slow to catch on, Sony could price the NGP higher and keep hammering away at how impressive the tech is compared to the 3DS.
So readers, how much is too much for this system? Would you pay $399 for a handheld? Think Sony can make a device this impressive and sell it at $250? Stay tuned to Game Rant for all the NGP news.