Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 Will Be The Year of The Handheld Gaming Wars (Again)

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2011 is now just less than two weeks away, and it’s already looking like new handheld systems are going to be the biggest sellers to come from the video game industry in the year ahead.  There is already a new DS with 3D graphics coming from Nintendo.  The retail release of the 3DS is scheduled January for Japan and March for North America. 

Sony, still bruised from the thud made by the PSP Go when it hit the market at the end of 2009, will be looking for redemption from two new handheld systems.  The first isn't exactly a Playstation Portable, It's a smartphone that runs Google's Android operating system with a PSP shoehorned into it.  The controller slides out from the screen similar to the PSP Go.  Like the PSP the games will delivered exclusively as digital downloads.  What is not known is that the games downloaded for the PSP and PSP go will be the same game files that play on the PSP phone, or will the games for the PSP Phone be special versions for the PSP Phone.

Looking to launch their own next generation of handheld gaming the next system Sony is expected to launch the next system that is already dubbed PSP 2. Like the PSP Go and the expected PSP Phone the PSP 2 will only hold games downloaded from Playstation Network.  Some circulating rumours state that the PSP 2 will have a touch screen, and virtual analog control, an where moving a thumb on the surface of the PSP 2 will have the same effect as moving an analog stick on a game console controller.

Sony has not yet announced if downloadable games that play on PSP and PSP Go will work on the PSP 2.  It is highly likely that the PSP 2 will not have a UMD drive, which means games on disc will be stuck on the original Playstation Portable.  Whatever the form the PSP 2 and PSP Phone take, Sony will need find their target audience in order to be successful with the new PSP systems. The youth market continued to be dominated by Nintendo and Panasonic targeting the hardcore gamers with their Jungle handheld system that could launch by the end of 2011, there could be little room for Sony if they don't stake their claim with gamers now.  Nintendo, Sony, and Panasonic all have to compete against Apple's iOS based devices which Apple argues is the world's most popular handheld gaming platform.

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