Sony Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai confirmed the development of their upcoming portable console, the “Next-Gen Portable” or “NGP” on Wednesday night at the Sony “Playstation Meeting 2011” conference in Tokyo. The PSP2… I’m sorry; I mean the “NGP”, will sport a 5-inch OLED screen, built-in 3G and Wi-fi capabilities, sixaxis gyroscopic control functionality, both front and rear multi-touch panels (Capacitive), as well as front and rear cameras. Improving on the horrible PSP analog nub, the NGP will have two real analog sticks for more functional control. That said, the demos showed that many games will use a combination of motion, multi-touch and conventional controls to create a unique play-style. The NGP screen has four times the resolution of the current PSP (960 x 544). Developers at the conference said that the NGP can handle ports of PS3 titles and can handle comparable visuals.
Using those impressive specs, Sony plans to make the NGP into a versatile media device specifically for gamers. Online connectivity is the name of the game – the system software has been designed to integrate social media PSN features seamlessly into the gameplay experience. Every game will feature a live “activity log” area that tracks news about the player’s game and its publisher. Shown as a sphere, the log is split four sections; the game, an information stream, a multiplayer hub, and the Playstation store. DLC will be available for games via the PS store, so the sphere will connect the player directly to the appropriate store. The info section will be updated in real-time, and will feature a communication center where players can chat, etc. Using 3G and GPS – PSP2 will show nearby players. The function, called “near”, will also show what games are being played most by nearby NGPs, and track your route as you walk. Individual players are represented by avatars – clicking on them shows their profile, trophies, gaming history, etc.
But enough about the tech, let’s talk about the games. Sony physically displayed 8 games/tech demos, but listed 17 specific titles, as well as a laundry list of third-party developers who are working on projects for the platform.
-Hot Shots Golf
-Monster Hunter Portable 3rd
-Lost Planet 2
-Capcom said new games to come “before long”
Yakuza Zombies (tech demo)
-Metal Gear Solid 4 (tech demo)
– At the show, Kojima said that he has a project in the works and will provide more information at E3.
-Call of Duty (No word on what version of CoD, but my guess is that it’s most likely MW3 to match the console release.
Other developers working on NGP projects include: Grasshopper, IREM, Level 5, Square Enix, Ubisoft, 2K Games and Rockstar.
In addition to the NGP, Mr. Hirai also unveiled the “Playstation Suite”, a multi-device software platform that connects PSN to Andorid-based cell phones and tablets. The beauty of the PS Suite is that it will unify all of the different Android variations: Many developers complain that developing for Android phones is too complicated because of the discrepancies in the different versions of the software. While Android may be the only partner now, Sony made it clear that the PS Suite is not Android-exclusive. “Playstation Suite” will include a mobile version of the Playstation Store, bringing PS1 games to these platforms.
Sony says the NGP will be released this holiday season. Presumably that’s the Japanese release date, so the US can expect to see it in early 2012.
Thanks to Gamespot, IGN and 1up – all information from the conference for this article was taken from their LiveBlog transcripts. Images taken from IGN.