Sony has just revealed the first details on a long-rumored successor to their struggling PlayStation Portable platform, at a press conference in Tokyo. The next generation portable, simply code-named NGP, is scheduled to hit stores later this year.
“This new system offers a revolutionary combination of rich gaming and social connectivity within a real world context, made possible by leveraging [Sony’s] experience from both PSP (PlayStation Portable) and PlayStation 3 (PS3) entertainment systems,” the company wrote in a press release.
The handheld device will feature a 5-inch OLED touchscreen, front- and rear-facing cameras, gyroscope and accelerometer, Wi-Fi and 3G support, several features tailored specifically for gaming and built-in GPS. The device also includes two thumbsticks, addressing a big complaint against the PlayStation Portable.
The NPG will also feature the same gyroscopic motion control technology contained within Sony’s PlayStation Move. Used in conjunction with NPG’s front and rear cameras, the motion sensors allow players to tilt the console to control games, or change their viewpoint.
NGP is also designed for Artificial Reality Games (ARGs) which incorporate the real world into the gameplay. As an example, a show reel at Sony’s conference depicted a group of friends scoring points by jumping into the air.
Thanks to Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, the NGP will offer connectivity, sharing, and multiplayer options. Each game will sport a feature called ‘LiveArea’, where players can share and view each others’ progress on a particular game, and access additional content made available by Sony and 3rd-party developers.
The social media aspect of the device will further be heightened through a feature called ‘Near’. Think of it as FourSquare for gaming. Users can find out what their friends nearby are playing, and meet them virtually.
NGP will also introduce a new software format for games. Each title will be released on a small card using flash memory, and allow users to store downloadable content and their game saves on the card.
Sony demonstrated an NGP version of successful action-adventure ‘Uncharted’, while several third party publishers pledged support for the machine, including Activision, who announced a new ‘Call of Duty’ title for the device, according to the official PlayStation blog.
Along with NGP, Sony also announced the PlayStation Suite, a PlayStation store of sorts that will deliver titles – such as classics from the library of the original PlayStation – to Android-based devices. The Suite requires Android users to have Android 2.3 operating system, code-named Gingerbread.
NGP is scheduled for release this winter, while PlayStation Suite will be available for Android devices ‘this calendar year.’ Sony did not offer details on what the device or games would cost.
Sony Inc.’s NGP enters a very competitive portable gaming market, with Nintendo’s DS dominating the field and Apple’s iPod Touch continuing to gain ground. Nintendo will release a 3-D capable DS in March. [Playstation Blog via The Telegraph (UK) and Crunch Gear]