January 13, 2011, 8:09 AM — For the past several years the handheld gaming wars have been fought between Nintendo with its DS series and Sony with the Playstation Portable. We're ready for the next generation to begin, though arguably both companies face a bigger threat from iPhones and Android phones than they do from each other.
We know the Nintendo 3DS is coming in March, but the Sony Playstation Portable 2 (PSP2) still isn't official (though there have been plenty of leaks; after all you have to get this hardware into developer hands well before you launch it). Yesterday VG247 claimed to have learned of a January 27th Sony "business overview and strategy meeting" where the PSP2 will be officially announced. No source was listed. Another site, MCV, claimed to have learned the same news, and they at least cited "trade sources" which, I guess, is better than not mentioning any source at all. MCV claims to have more info about the PSP2 in its Friday issue. VG247 says the event will be open to "very select press."
I remain skeptical, not of the PSP2 (I'm as close to certain as I can be that Sony is working on a new PSP) but that they'd announce the device at a small event with just a few journalists in attendance. Unless, of course, these journalists will be put under NDA and this is just an internal meeting. I suppose we'll know in two weeks. I was expecting the big reveal to be at the Game Developer's Conference at the end of February.
In the meantime, lots of information about the Nintendo 3DS is coming out, including what it looks like when you take it apart (link to Kotaku). We've learned that it only has a 3-5 hour battery life (playing native, 3D games: you'll get more time when playing older DS games), which might be an issue for the hardcore gamer on the go. We've learned that 3D games shouldn't be played by children under 6, and also that it's fine for children under 6 to play 3D games. Turns out the former statement was a "cover our backside" ploy from Nintendo (see Iwata Says 3DS Warning is to Fend Off Lawsuits at 1Up and Doctors Insist 3DS 'Positive' For Children at IncGamers). We've learned that some games will perform better if you turn off the 3D effect. And we've learned that Nintendo is working hard to make sure there's a steady stream of 3DS titles to buy after launch, and that there will be eight games available at launch.
What we still haven't learned from Nintendo, though, is a US launch date and price! Pretty much everyone guesses either $249 or $299, with $249 being the most prevalent assumption. We're told Nintendo will reveal all on January 19th.
And as long as we're talking about handheld gaming systems being taken apart, here's yet another Playstation Phone leak. It too has been disassembled and photographed (Kotaku again).
So what do you think? Has the iPhone killed any chance of next-gen handheld gaming systems doing well? Or are there enough hardcore gamers out there that need the real experience. The 3DS at least has that 3D hook, but what will the PSP2 do to lure you away from your smartphone?