February 03, 2010, 7:45 AM — Sony's PSP Go handheld hasn't been in the news much since its October launch. Nor, apparently, has it been in gamers' hands much. According to a news story making the rounds, Sony wants to change that via a re-launch of the product. According to the collective mind of tech bloggers (this mind included), Sony needs to do two things in order for this relaunch to be successful: drop the price, and pump out some Kevin Butler ads (Butler is the face of the rather amusing "It only does everything" PS3 ads; an example is embedded below) to attract some attention.
Even with a lower price it will be challenging for Sony to market the PSP Go. Since the October launch of the system, Sony has been doing a good job of supporting the digital-only device with weekly updates on its online store. The problem is that these updates work just as well with the other, cheaper PSP models. Models which also support UMD format games and movies (now found deeply discounted at both brick & mortar and online retailers). It's a real hard sell to get an existing PSP owner to "upgrade" to a more expensive, less capable system and since the PSP has been available for so many years there's no great surge of demand for the system; it long ago lost that new tech allure.
Plus, there's increasing pressure from other mobile devices. The iPhone and iPod Touch provide plenty of on-the-go gaming for many people, and the games available are a lot less expensive. The Zune HD and Android devices are also making some headway into the gaming space. The PSP Go seems like a device aimed at a same market, based on price and the fact that Sony pushes its media playback features and online store fairly heavily. For serious gaming the Go has the huge advantage of physical controls, but serious gamers will want the broader library of the UMD-supporting PSP-3000 (or the Nintendo DS). Most casual gamers will be perfectly content to play games on a device they're already carrying around.
Sony needs to slash the price of the PSP Go rather dramatically to make it appealing to most consumers. At the least, it has to come down to the price of the PSP-3000 (around $170 US) but even lower would be better. Give us a great deal (if they can't go that low, how about packing in $50 of credit at the online Playstation store?) and get Butler on the TV showing us how fun and cool the device is. Then, maybe, we can talk.