Today, or tonight depending on what time zone you live in, Sony held a special press conference. With President and Group CEO, Kaz Hirai, hosting the event, gamers across the globe await to see if the rumors are true – that a successor to the PSP will be announced.
Kaz kicked things off by saying how he was a little nervous since it has been awhile since the last PlayStation Meeting, and that they want to discuss some strategies and possibilities for PlayStation as the move forward. After his brief intro, they showed the same clip they used back at E3 in 2005. The clip, titled “Cyber Society” takes a look forward at the future Sony envisioned. Hirai then said “I believe a lot of what we envisioned back then has materialized for our users.”
After that some stats were given, like how 80% of PlayStation 3 owners are connected to the internet, that there have been over 1.4 billion downloads, and how, as of January 25th, over 69 million PSN accounts have been created. Regardless of how you feel about Sony or the PlayStation 3, those are some pretty impressive numbers.
“There was a time when the only way to play games on the road was via a dedicated gaming device like the PSP.” – Kaz Hirai
Hirai then went on to discuss the handheld aspect of gaming, and how they would continue to tap into that market saying that, “The world of portable gaming offers another value for video games… games are closer to you than ever, and accessible anywhere, any time.” Recognizing that, when the PSP launched several years ago, cell phone providers were unable to deliver quality PlayStation content, they set their sights on delivering the same level of experience to a wider audience.
One solution? PlayStation Suite. Not only will it help expand the PlayStation experience past what the PSP can provide, but it is their first cross platform endeavor. A great selling feature about PlayStation Suite is that it will allow PlayStation content to become available on Android smartphonesand tablets. Sorry, Apple lovers. Sony hopes to attract as many developers as possible with PlayStation Suite, and it has the potential to provide limitless possibilities. PlayStation Suite content should become available within the next calendar year.
In addition to that, Sony plans to launch a program called PlayStation Certified that will ensure PlayStation quality across multiple devices, so that consumers will have a choice in what they play on. There is also talks of emulating first generation PlayStation games.
“Here’s the successor system to PlayStation Portable, codenamed NGP” – Kaz Hirai
Then, Hirai got into what people were really waiting for, the PSP2, or as it’s been codenamed, NGP, which stands for Next Generation Portable. Withdual analog sticks, a 5 inch OLED display, 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, six axis controls, front and rear cameras, front and rear touchpads, and more, this is truly the year of the handhelds. With plans to release the NGP this holiday season, and no price given, one might want to start saving up.
Per the PlayStation Blog webiste, the key features for the NGP are:
- Multi-touch 5-inch organic light emitting display (OLED) as the front display
- Multi-touch pad on the rear of the device
- Dual analog sticks
- Two cameras (front and rear)
- Software titles on small, dedicated flash memory-based cards
- Three motion sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass
- Wi-Fi and 3G network connectivity
- PlayStation Network access, including ““LiveArea™”, “Near” and “Activity” log features Trophy Support
- NGP will be able to play PSP titles, minis, PS one classics, video and comics from the PlayStation Store.
The specs are:
Current PSP owners shouldn’t worry if they will be able to play their current games on the NGP because not only will they be able to use physical media, but they have plans for New Game Media. One can also use flash memory-based card.
President of SCE Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, took the stage to join Hirai to show some of the titles that are currently being developed for the NGP. Some of the franchises shown were Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet, Resistance, WipEout, Hot Shots Golf Next, Gravity Daze, Killzone, Reality Fighters, Smart As, Broken, and Little Deviants. Yoshida then played a live demo of Uncharted and wowed the crowd.
“So let’s play this game” – Shuhei Yoshida
Currently most smartphones have a 3.5 inch display. The NGP will have a 5 inch display, slightly under double the size, but gamers will see a big difference. For players who like to lay down, or recline while gaming, you’ll be able to tilt the device in many different ways and have everything still display perfectly. Both Hirai and Yoshida acknowledged that PSP owners had been wanting a second analog stick, and it’s obvious that Sony listened. Instead of a little bump, both sticks are micro versions of what you’d find on the Dualshock PlayStation controllers.
During the Uncharted demo, Yoshida showed how you could either tap on the touchscreen or press X to jump, how you could tilt the NGP to make Nathan Drake swing on a vine, that Drake can climb the vine by utilizing the rear touchpad (so that gamers can really feel as if they are climbing the vine themselves), and more. This truly allows the players to have a more immersive experience, and will hopefully inspire developers to really push the boundaries.
Once the live demo was over, Yoshida left the stage and Muneki Shimada from Software Development joined Hirai, and more about the NGP was discussed. Shimada noted how the shape of the NGP was designed for long play sessions and that the touchscreen allows for movements like push, pull, grab, touch, and trace. It should also be said that the NGP is larger than the PSP 3000, in case some of you were wondering what it could be compared to, size wise.
“LiveArea adds depth to the traditional entertainment experience.” – Muneki Shimada
Yoshida then rejoined Hirai on the stage to show off Little Deviants. It’s a colorful game that really focuses on the rear touchscreen, and created hills with his finger for the characters to move across. Since the rear touchscreen is the exact same size as the OLED display, Yoshida’s finger can be mapped directly to the game screen, alleviating any concerns that a gamer won’t be able to see what he or she is doing back there. When Yoshida taps on the rear screen, the character in Little Deviants jumps, and he even showed how both screens can be in use at the same time. By using the front panel to move the camera around, Yoshida-san showed how complex movements could be made and said it’s a “completely different experience from anything we’ve known in the past.”
Hirai takes the stage again to discuss the new touch-based user interface called LiveArea. Every NGP game will utilize LiveArea, and it will have news on each title as well as the publishers. Trophy hunters will be pleased to know that the NGP will have a trophy system. LiveArena will be the NGP equivalent of PlayStation Home, or Xbox LIVE for 360 owners. Games and the marketplace can be accessed from LiveArea. It will also have a live communication feed where you can see what your friends are up to, and friends can leave comments. A huge feature is how you can jump in and out of a game and into LiveArea where you can communicate with other gamers, your friends, or people who are nearby.
NGP will be able to connect to mobile networks, a first in portable devices. A new application called “Near” allows you to see what games people are discussing in your area. So, for example, if you’re sitting at a Starbucks with your NGP you’ll be able to see what people are doing in your area and vice versa. Near will also show where you’ve traveled throughout town, and if you see a gamer playing a game nearby you can purchase the game from the Near interface. Some future features planned are to use Near to create location-based gaming events, and even allowing players to meet new gamers.
Yoshida-san took the stage again to give a live demo of Hot Shots Golf Next, which looked just like the Hot Shots Golf game that came out on PlayStation 3. When you line up your shot, the game gives you the option to enter first-person mode. Yoshida-san moved the NGP around and it appeared as if he’s looking around at the golf course through a window. With just a simple tilt you can look at your player’s feet, you can look at the ball, and more.
Kaz noted that newly developed content on PlayStation Network will work on the NGP, and that downloadable PSP titles will work as well. Kaz then went on to identify people from Activision, Capcom, Epic, Konami, SEGA, and Tecmo Koei who were in attendance. Jun Takeuchi from Capcom took the stage to thank Sony and everyone for the success of Monster Hunter Portable 3 since it sold over 4 million copies. Takeuchi went on to say that they plan on bringing a downloadable version of Monster Hunter Portable 3 out for the NGP, and that the game looks gorgeous thanks to the OLED screen.
“The analog stick feels great. You can quote me.”– Jun Takeuchi
As Takeuchi went on to demo Monster Hunter Portable 3, he told press that Capcom plans on using their MT Framework, which they currently use to create games, for the NGP and will be calling it MT Mobile. Lost Planet 2 cutscenes, that were rendered in realtime, were shown. While the graphics were impressive, it was hard to tell whether the graphics were on par with the PS3 version or not. Takeuchi might not have had any new titles to announce, but he did say that they might have something on the horizon.
Toshihiro Nagoshi, the man behind the Super Monkey Ball series and Yakuza, from SEGA announced that Yakuza 4 would be ported to the NGP and the live demo was rendered in realtime. Nagoshi went on to say that they were really looking forward to developing for the NGP. Akihiro Suzuki, from Tecmo Koei, was up next and he showed off Musou, a title that will utilize the touchscreen. During his live demo, Suzuki used the touchscreen to kill multiple enemies at once with his samurai character, and said that while Tecmo Koei has plans on developing new games for the NGP, they are looking forward to porting some of their current titles with hopes that they can be reborn with new functionalities.
“There’s no announcement of a new title today, but I’d like to talk about the future perspective.” – Hideo Kojima
Gaming icon, and Konami household name, Hideo Kojima took the stage next, and while he didn’t have a new game to announce right now, he did show off Metal Gear Solid 4 on the NGP, although he didn’t outright announce that it would be available for the device. Kojima did say that he is pleased with the NGP and that we can all enjoy the same quality the PS3 has to offer. Kojima mostly focused on cloud computing, how he thinks that it’s the future, and how he believes that the NGP allows for this. “What I’d like to realize is playing on your PS3, and when you go out, you put the game on your NGP, and when you come back home, you can once again use your PS3 and large screen TV,” Kojima said adding, “This dream is going to come true in the near future. And right now, I’m working on this project of the dream. I’m sorry, I can’t reveal this now. But we’d like to present what we’re doing at E3”
Tim Sweeney from Epic graced everybody with his presence and presented a kick-ass tech demo using the Unreal Engine 3. The demo showcases a large medieval world with knights roaming about in the midst of a burly snowstorm. Once that finished up, Sweeney went into Dungeon Defenders, a game developed for the PS3 by Trendy Entertainment but was ported to the NGP in less than a week.
“We’re very excited and think you’ll be stunned at what’s possible on Sony’s next generation portable platform.” – Tim Sweeney
Last, but certainly not least, was Philip Earl from Activision, who brought down the house when he announced that Call of Duty would be hitting the NGP. “We believe CoD for NGP will set the bar for the next generation of portable gaming,” Earl said adding that anything is possible with the addition of dual analog sticks, social networking, and the two touchscreens. After Earl’s big announcement Hirai took the stage for the final time to present a list of developers who have pledged their support like Rockstar, Ubisoft, Q Entertainment, and anybody else you can possibly think of.
And with that note, the 2011 PlayStation Press Conference is over. While there was no PlayStation phone, we finally got news about the “PSP2” and it really looks fantastic. Even though no price was given, are any of you wanting to get it when it launches or is Nintendo’s 3DS more your thing? Let us know in a comment below!
Images taken from Kotaku Live Feed