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Microsoft's Zune may learn from PSP 'cautionary tales'

Microsoft is not yet ready to unveil a handheld gaming device, and it may not for quite some time looking at the performance of the PSP. While Sony has met moderate success with the PSP, it has struggled against Nintendo in the sector, and in spite of better hardware, has been unable to beat the Nintendo juggernaut.

Zune, Microsoft's current music player, can play both music and video -- but will it ever play games? Perhaps. Microsoft's Robbie Bach spoke with Dean Takahashi on VentureBeat, and had a few things to say about what they're learning from the PSP. "The PSP is a reasonably successful product at the profit-and-loss level. But as a product concept, there are cautionary tales to learn from it. While it is good at producing audio, it's not a good music player because it doesn't have local storage (except for flash memory slots). You can't keep your music there. It has a beautiful screen, but you can only get the video under the Universal Media Disc format. That format hasn't been successful. On a game level, it has done well. But even there, it is mostly PlayStation 2 ports. There isn't much original content."

Bach's comments ring of some truth, but they seem to based on the image set by Sony during the PSP launch. Since then, PSP can run full-resolution video off Memory Stick (although there are still a number of arbitrary restrictions on video playback). PSP has gained a number of original non-ported games, but it must still fend off the image that it doesn't have original content. "When you do these devices, they can't be pretty good at a lot of things. They need to be great at what they do. Zune is a great music player. We have local storage, a marketplace, the social network. We didn't do video right out of the gate because you want to do those things in a high-quality way. Same thing in the gaming space. It is technically possible to do games on there. But you aren't going to see a broad gaming effort from us until we sort that through and have it figured out."

[Via GameDaily]

Dream Games: Halo

Dream Games is a new weekly column where we explore a game we'd love to see on the PSP. Feel free to check in, and comment, every week.

Sure, pigs may turn into flying unicorns before this ever happens, but hey ... that's why we're dreaming, right? Halo is easily Microsoft's largest franchise, and it would make a perfect home on PSP. The FPS game has you playing as Master Chief, a soldier in a war against "The Flood," and became one of the single best reasons to own the original Xbox.

Why PSP?
A portable version was considered by Microsoft, but for a much less capable platform: the DS. The PSP, with its much more impressive tech, would be able to handle the processing needs of a Halo title much better. FPS controls haven't been perfected on the system yet, but that certainly didn't stop Goldeneye from becoming so popular back in the single analog stick era. A version of Halo for the portables would be well-suited for the older, hardcore PSP community, in either a FPS, or Halo Wars-style RTS game. Also, online would be a bit more fun without those silly friend codes. Unless Microsoft is making a portable Xbox, Sony's handheld is where they can go to cash in the big bucks.

Is it possible?
No. Even though it would make a ton of money, it will most likely never happen.

Microsoft continues to support DS, but not PSP

1UP asked Shane Kim, Microsoft Corporate VP, about the possibility of Microsoft games appearing on handhelds. His answer? "We do it today. We don't publish those titles directly ourselves, we are creating intellectual property that have great appeal to customers of handheld devices. Whether you're talking about mobile or the DS -- you probably won't see it on the PSP, though."

Why the Nintendo love? Well, Microsoft wants to target the kids that seem to shy away from Xbox's older demographic. Get those kids hooked on their properties on the DS, and then hope to reel them over to the 360: "Nintendo's fine. Particularly when you talk about some of our titles from Rare. A Kameo or a Viva Pinata on a DS makes a lot of sense in a lot of ways from a franchise perspective."

However, wouldn't one of Microsoft's more mature properties, like Halo, fare better on a handheld that not only has better tech, but has an audience that would be interested in such a product? Unless Microsoft has handheld ambitions of their own ...

Do PSP games on PS3 cause a threat?

Sony seems to be having a bit of a problem. They have a portable system that is a success, but not by any means their main product. Then they have a new console that desperately needs games any way it can get them. Obviously they need to compete on the high end next gen game front, but they also need to compete against the Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade. Without the backlog of games like Nintendo or the head start of Microsoft, they seem to be turning to a questionable source for their downloadable games; the PSP.

The obvious issue with PSP games going to PS3 is that it begins to negate the reasons for a consumer to own both. Sure, right now it's a Gripshift and a Tekken, but what happens if the trend just continues? Sure, this would strengthen the PlayStation Network, but at the cost of PSP exclusives. This is just not acceptable when the PSP still has a long way to go to establish itself.

If Sony does insist on continuing to take games from the PSP library to the PS3, than it needs to change how it does so. Microsoft announced Live Anywhere quite some time ago, but we're still waiting for the day when we can play Xbox Live Arcade games on the go. Part of the reason is that Microsoft doesn't yet have a portable gaming system, but Sony does. Why not have it so if I download Gripshift on the PS3 I can download it to my PSP as well free as charge. For games that require progress, it would be great if I was able to share saves between my PSP and PS3. Maybe this is part of Sony's eventual plans anyway, but until I can buy Tekken on my PSP and continue it on my PS3 or vice-versa, it seems like a missed opportunity.

It could just be that this is a temporary solution and as more developers jump on board the PlayStation Network, Sony will stop relying on PSP games as downloadable content. Even if this is the case though, it still seems like a dangerous road for Sony to travel. It could just be that I'm overreacting though. What do fellow PSP owners think of this development?

Microsoft and Sega create new deal to promote Sonic Rivals

Sega will be running a pricey viral ad campaign through Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger to promote its upcoming games: Sonic Rivals on the PSP and Sonic the Hedgehog on Xbox 360. One may notice that the PLAYSTATION 3 version of Sonic the Hedgehog is not mentioned. Just like Sonic and Silver pictured above, Sony and Microsoft are fierce rivals, and it appears that Microsoft wants no part in promoting Sony's next-gen platform. Of course, without a handheld gaming device from the Xbox folks (for now), it seems Redmond's empire is willing to litter your IM-ing experience with ads for the PSP Sonic.

Expect a full review of Sonic Rivals and a giveaway soon.

[Via Brand Republic]

Sony spread too thin, according to Microsoft exec

Mercury News has some fighting words from Microsoft's Robbie Bach. The President of E&C goes on record saying that Sony is unable to successfully compete in the upcoming generation as Sony must focus its efforts across three platforms: PS2, PS3 and PSP. "I think Sony, frankly, suffers a little bit from this problem, which is they're spread really thin across all these areas. And trying to do PSP, competing with Nintendo, PSP to DS; competing with us, 360 to PS3, I think it does strain -- it would naturally strain any organization."

It's interesting to point out that Microsoft, a company with quite possibly the largest monetary battle chest in the world, has avoided the handheld market, simply because the battle against Nintendo would be too resource-draining. While two-front wars have never been too successful, the consumers should feel comfortable in knowing that at least Sony puts dedication behind its products, unlike Microsoft. I'm confident that Sony will support the PSP for years to come, just like they have with the PS2. And that's something millions of currently abandoned original Xbox consoles can't vouch for.

[Via GameDaily]

The winner of Leipzig? PSP

NOTE: This editorial is the opinion of Andrew Yoon, and does not represent the opinion of PSP Fanboy, Joystiq or Weblogs, Inc.

Every video game convention, there's a "winner" of some sorts. It's pretty safe to say that the Nintendo Wii "won" the last E3, proving that waving around our hands can be fun. Not only did the Wii prove that the control scheme works, there was an amazing list of exclusives, from Nintendo's own Mario to third party efforts, like Red Steel. Nintendo wowed the crowd at E3 because of the amazing quality and potential of the games for its system.

Did Nintendo pull the big win at the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany this year? No. Did Microsoft? No. Sony took the win for this year's show, but not because of a great showing of PlayStation 3 goods (there were none at the show), but because of Konami's absolutely excellent lineup of upcoming PSP games. Yes, you heard me right: PSP "won" Leipzig.

Continue reading The winner of Leipzig? PSP

Japan hardware sales chart, Aug. 7-13: More of the same

Those damn Japanese are at it again with their never-ending obsession with the Nintendo DS Lite. Last week, it seemed the PSP was possibly staging a comeback, but a surge in DS Lite sales that almost topped 200,000 nipped any thought of that in the bud.

- DS Lite 196,719(19,866)
- PSP: 41,289(1,315)
- PS2: 26,547 (96)
- GBA SP: 3,051(822)
- Gameboy Micro: 2,031(265)
- Xbox 360: 1,204(1,042)
- Gamecube: 940(99)
- DS Phat: 934(596)
- GBA: 23(14)
- Xbox: 6(5)

I'm tired of thinking of reasons to why the DS Lite is handing the PSP its ass. Sony is going to have to do something to turn the momentum back in its favor very quickly, or any thought of winning in Japan will be lost. Maybe Sony can start by getting some games on its system that will compete with the DS Lite's. Oh well, there's always next week, right?

(Via PSP Advanced)

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