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It’s probably not a good sign that every time I type “NGP” I have to mentally re-check to make sure I got the acronym right. That’ll probably fade with time. Anyway, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe CEO Andrew House spoke with Eurogamer following the NGP reveal today, sharing what meager information he had about the handheld.
The burning question on everyone’s mind is price, but sadly House can’t speculate on that, meaning Sony probably hasn’t even decided yet.
“I can’t put a ballpark on it in terms of figures, but I think what I would say is that we will shoot for an affordable price that’s appropriate for the handheld gaming space,” House said.
Many people are also curious if 3G connections will result in another monthly fee. While, again, House had no specific answers, he did at least clear one thing up.
“The first thing to clarify, which I’m not sure the presentation did a perfect job of doing today, is that all of the devices will have wi-fi capability; a separate SKU will have 3G,” House said. “So the user gets a choice. Wi-fi is available wherever, which clearly is the most important aspect of connectivity and that connected experience; 3G will be a subset of that.”
So the NGP model will end up similar to the iPad. You’ll be able to get 3G functionality if you want it (or can afford it), but the WiFi functionality will be there for those that have any experience with pulling data over 3G. Sony was also selective in the additional functionality the NGP will boast.
“Web browsing features, yes; phone, deliberately no. We’ve avoided it. We think that voice capability carries with it a whole other set of expectations, and we want this to be first and foremost the ultimate gaming experience,” House said. “We’ve elected not to complicate that proposition overly by trying to have it be all things to all people including voice and a conventional phone. Clearly [PlayStation Suite] addresses an already vibrant phone marketplace that serves that consumer very well.”
Despite intentionally not including phone functionality, House maintains that having a multi-function portable device is a cornerstone of Sony’s design philosophy.
“One of the learnings that we took from PSP is that consumers are not satisfied with taking a conventional console experience and merely putting it onto a portable device,” House said. “There has to be a range of features that fit that portable experience. Hence incorporating GPS for location-based services and game experiences. Connectivity is obviously crucial for a new and upcoming generation of gamers who want social connectivity as much as they want a dedicated game experience.”
Of course, all those whizmos and gidgets suck juice, and the PSP didn’t have the best battery life. House addresses this issue without providing any definitive numbers (because they’re probably not available yet).
“I think we’ll have a good, solid battery life because of two factors. It’s influenced our choice of flash media, versus incorporating a disc drive; and number two, the screen is large and gorgeous – it’s also OLED, which is fantastically good for low power consumption as well,” House said. “So there’s two, I think strong, features there that bode well for battery life.”
Of course, the elephant in Sony’s room is piracy. The PSP is nearly synonymous with piracy, and the PlayStation 3’s security was recently cracked open like a plumber’s ass. House doesn’t promise that the NGP will be pirate-immune (because he’d instantly be wrong), but he does promise they’re addressing the problem.
“I think that we will work extremely hard and are already moving very fast to try and maintain the security of our device. It’s the lifeblood of our industry – if you’re going to continue to see innovative games, they have to be within a business model that allows publishers to justify and recoup the huge investments and creative talent they’ve put into those games,” House said. “I think the best thing that I can say on that is we will do our absolute utmost to address any and all security issues around PS3.”
And just in case you were curious about who Sony’s targeting with the NGP, House clears that up for you.
“Clearly in the dedicated portable space,” House said, “we will be in competition with 3DS.”