The PSP Go only launched here in India yesterday, but we’ve been hearing rumors about the next iteration of the Playstation Portable for a while now. And Kazuo “Kaz Hirai” Hirai, Sony Computer Entertainment chief, recently spoke to New York Times about the possibilities of the new device, among other things.
The most interesting thing to come out of this was the hint that the PSP2 could have touch controls. “Depending on the game, there are ones where you can play perfectly well with a touch panel,” Hirai said. “But you can definitely play immersive games better with physical buttons and pads. I think there could be games where you’re able to use both in combination.”
This could be Hirai’s acknowledgement of the success enjoyed by the Nintendo DS and Apple’s iDevices. It could also be acknowledgement of the growing market for casual games, something Hirai said could end up being a good thing. “We’re seeing people who never had an interest in games join the gaming population. That means that the gaming industry pie is getting bigger.”
However, the increase in the industry pie’s size has also resulted in an increase of Apple’s share of the pie, something that has been well proven by the enormous success enjoyed by games such as Angry Birds and Infinity Blade. Kaz isn’t too worried though, as he feels gamers who want to play intense games will still continue to prefer the PSP platform. “The games being played on Android and Apple platforms are fundamentally different from the world of immersive games that Sony Computer Entertainment, and PlayStation, aims for.”
If the PSP2 does come out with a touchscreen, the decision could be interpreted in two ways – a declaration of intent to attract the casual gaming crowd, or a declaration of the resumption of war between Nintendo and Sony’s handhelds. Nintendo’s next handheld, the 3DS, is expected to release in the first quarter of 2011 and promises a glasses-free 3D experience. The previous confrontation between the two companies on the handheld front can’t even be called a war, as the DS utterly annihilated the PSP in terms of sales and popularity. Sony and Hirai will be hoping things turn out a little better for them this time round.