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Editorial: So You Want a PSP...
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posted by: Jason Frank
publisher: Sony
date posted: 12:00 AM Tue Mar 22nd, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Tue Mar 22nd, 2005

The last few weeks I've been doing a lot of research on Sony's forthcoming PSP, hunched over the computer, scouring Google headlines for any scrap of new info.  And if any one had asked me what I was doing, I would have said I was prepping an article for GamesFirst.com.  I would have been lying.  In fact, I had no intention on writing this article.  I needed to know everything about the PSP for one reason and one reason only.  I needed to convince my wife that it would be a sane and sensible purchase.  I needed to show her that our lives, our marriage, and our home would be considerably better if we added a PSP to the mix.

I honestly believed that with everything this little handheld could do, I'd be able to make a strong case for it being a necessity in our lives.  This is a delicate issue for many marriages out there.  It's not easy to walk the line of being an enthusiastic gamer while still being a responsible parent.  Some wives out there, instead of seeing gaming systems as a way to bring the family together for a night of multi-player death matches, can only see the gaming systems as a distraction to other duties and responsibilities.  And if I'm totally honest with myself, there have been moments of neglect, but in my heart of hearts, I knew it would be different with Sony's little miracle of engineering.

The main obstacle I had to overcome was the price of the unit.  How do you build value in a $250 handheld video game system?  I began by making a list of everything that it could do and then, next to the particular feature, I would try to figure out how it would benefit us as a family.  I know that I'm not the only husband to think of this approach, but let me warn you.  It won't work.

Take for instance the built in MP3 player.  I honestly thought this would be a huge benefit that my wife would buy into.  I had been intending on purchasing one of those little IPOD shuffles for when I worked out.  I tried to show my wife how we'd actually be saving money by getting the PSP, so I told her, If I get the PSP, I won't have to get that IPOD shuffle I was planning on.? 

Without missing a beat she asked the one question I didn't want her to. So, the PSP is smaller than the Game Boy Advance??

Well, actually, it's a little bigger.?  (I've long since giving up lying to my wife.  She always finds out the truth eventually.)

So how do you intend to use it for working out?  Were you going to go running with it??

It's a little too big for doing that with.?

You don't have a gym membership, so you can't take it weight lifting.?

No, I'd be too scared that it'd get sweat all over it.?

What kind of workout did you have in mind??

I suggested Pilates, but it didn't fly.

The truth is, it's just not all that portable.  Even though it can play MP3s, most people won't be using it to download the latest Jessica Simpson single, when there are dozens of MP3 players on the market that can fit on a key chain.  Besides the fact that the price of a good sized Memory Stick Duo is about the same as a new flash based  MP3 player. 

When she didn't buy the MP3 rationale, I tried to sell her on another feature, We could use it to play movies for the kids on long drives or plane flights.?

It plays DVDs??  I could see that she was interested.

Not really.  It plays movies on a proprietary format called UMD.?

She had been married to me long enough to understand the concept of proprietary format.  So, what movies are we going to be able to get??

I chose not to answer this question.  I knew it would incriminate me more than Mark McGuire answering a direct question before a senate committee.  This is where things get a little sticky.  You see, there aren't actually any movies coming out initially that are what I would call kid friendly.  In fact, according to the list of planned movies for the format, I could only find one movie that was rated less than a PG-13, and that movie was National Treasure.?  Even though Disney is one of the studios supporting the format, there aren't actually any traditional Disney films that are on the release slate.  No Bambi, no Toy Story, but we will be seeing Kill Bill soon after launch.  We'll also be getting Saw, Open Water and Once Upon a Time in Mexico.  You can see my dilemma.

I thought about trying to build value in the photo viewer, but my wife would have pointed out that I don't even carry pictures of my family in my wallet (it bulks my billfold up too much).  At the end of the day, after all that I knew it could do, I couldn't justify it as anything more than a really cool portable gaming device.

If you've got young kids, don't try to bring them into the argument. This is not a system for the little ones.  This is clearly a console aiming for an older demographic. Take a look at the line-up of 24 games for the PSP.  There's only one game that's aimed at younger audiences: Ape Escape, and it's not exactly a killer franchise for kids.  In fact, I don't even know if I'm actually going to let my kids touch the thing.  I'd be too worried about their fingerprints marring the perfectly glossy surface.

When I first saw how much it could do, I honestly thought that it would be an easy sell.  Easier than the Dreamcast, the N64, the PS2, the Xbox or the various iterations of the Game Boy.  At $250 it seemed like a veritable steal.  In the end, my wife didn't agree.  Somehow she was able to prioritize things like landscaping, paintings, and clothes for the kids over my desire for a PSP.  So after much deliberation and difficult introspection, I was forced to admit that even though it is the Swiss Army Knife of gaming devices, it's still only a gaming device.  And for people who think that they're getting a lifestyle accessory that will only sometimes be used for video games, they'll be sorely disappointed.

It may sound like I've talked myself out of the PSP.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I look forward to basking in its shininess and playing many a launch title.  Sure, I may listen to a few tunes, watch a couple of movies or even look at a few pictures, but the main reason I want one anyway is to play Tony Hawk on the go.  So, if your wife doesn't see the need for this nifty device, you can always get one the way I did.  Bribe your wife.  I agreed to give her $250 cash to do with as she would like (she's using it to by books for the kids) if she'd let me get one.  Sure, that means my PSP is costing me around $500, but really, when you consider all that it can do, isn't it still a bargain?