You have to hand it to Sony, since their newest handheld the NGP has yet to even approach an official release, and is already making headlines. After rumors had begun to spread of the Japanese earthquake causing a delay of the NGP's release, Sony has now stated that production is continuing on schedule, and some in the company's stable of studios are already seeing the potential for gaming that the device will make possible.
There's no question that the disaster in Japan has had a major impact on the video games industry with several projects seeing delays or outright cancellations, and Sony Computer Entertainment of America President Jack Tretton warned earlier this week that their newest hardware could end up being added to that list.
Sony has been somewhat evasive about the release date since the NGP was first announced, so Tretton's comments weren't as disastrous as many may have thought. With a tentative plan to have the hardware in at least one major market by the holiday season of 2011, and delays not out of the question, it was a foregone conclusion that Sony would have some catching up to do with the newly-launched Nintendo 3DS.
Apparently Tretton had been misinformed about the Japanese disaster's effect on production, as Sony has now refuted those claims, explaining that the NGP's production hasn't been impacted at all. Speaking with the Wall Street Journal, Sony spokesperson Satoshi Fukuoka clarified that the company currently sees "no impact from the quake on our launch plan."
So those worried about having to wait a few more months to play Uncharted on a handheld device can now relax, since it appears that Tretton's concerns were unfounded. But for those of you who prefer to play your HD titles on an HDTV and fail to see the practicality of a console-quality handheld, recent comments made by Sony concerning the device's potential could be of interest.
Anyone who has been paying attention to the games industry knows that MMOs are a hot commodity at the moment, and a successful one is a literal goldmine. With Sony having already accomplished the seemingly-impossible task of bringing an MMO to consoles with DC Universe Online, the company may have a brand new chance to do the same with the NGP.
"There are a lot of people out there that have, in the past, associated free-to-play with lower quality - and simply put, that's just not true any more. There are a lot of free-to-play games that are great, and I think that's going to come over to console just as well.
"With the console, we're selling to an audience that already has the PS3 obviously - and by the way not the just the PS3, but in the future I can see other devices. Sony's announced the NGP, and if that isn't a perfect machine for doing MMOs on, then I don't know what is."
Facts are facts, and there's no denying that the free-to-play business model works. Lord of the Rings Online saw their profits triple by offering the game for free, and Angry Birds is proof that low-price games don't have to be lacking in polish. So while Smedley's statements may just be speculation, there's no question that a pocket-console capable of offering high-quality MMO gameplay on the move could explode in popularity.
At the very least we can hope that these sentiments expressed will result in a broader price range for NGP titles, especially after Tretton prepared us for a high price for the NGP.
What do you think of the idea of a mobile MMO? Do you disagree with Smedley, and believe that MMOs are too time-consuming to really work on a mobile device? Let us know in the comments.
As of now, it looks like Sony's NGP is still on track for a release window of holiday 2011. Whether DCUO will be joining it is anyone's guess.
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