Me & my PSP Go

Sony has finally pulled the plug on the PSP Go

After a year and a half of availability, Sony has finally pulled the plug on the PSP Go. It's safe to say no one's upset about this. Although excitement for it grew when it was embarrassingly leaked weeks before it was official, that excitement almost completely reversed upon release. It's not one of Sony's best moments, but tech trends often need that one entity to push forward, crash and burn, and have someone else learn from their mistake.

As for me, well, I bought a PSP Go when it came out, and if the sales numbers are any indicator, I might be the only person in northern California who bought one. I love video games, of course, and that extends to game hardware. I also like other types of gadgets, but whereas some gadget freaks will buy any new cell phone without flinching, I desire and often get any new game system, no matter how it looks, and (usually) no matter how much it is. Basically, I'm crazy, and crazy logic dictated that I buy a PSP Go. Ashamed? Never — you gotta own your feelings.

I had a genuine desire to get the PSP Go, though; it wasn't a mindless need. For one thing, I liked it's smaller size because I enjoy the novelty of game systems that get as tiny as possible. And though the regular PSP is overly large, it feels a little out-of-place when I use it in public. That's just me, though. Regardless, with the PSP Go, I also understood where Sony was coming from. The message was that this was simply a tiny sibling of the PSP that could appeal to the kinds of people (kids!) who aren't hung up on keeping their games in boxes, and maybe even someone unhappy with the kind of game selection available on Apple's App Store (relatively rare, but possible).

Unfortunately, Sony couldn't make that message connect with anyone else, and the PSP Go caused consumer confusion from the get-go. A disturbing number of people expected this to be the next PSP, becoming genuinely mad when they found out it wouldn't have a second analog nub, for example. By all accounts, the NGP has made up for it.

I didn't have a problem with the Go being download-only. I already had a few downloadable games from the PlayStation Store from my other PSP, and I don't have a personal problem with digital distribution as a whole. I bought several downloadable games that were available, including the retro game compilations like the Capcom Classics Collections, sort of turning the Go into a portable arcade. Yes, the games staying at parity with their retail prices was silly and unavoidable from Sony's standpoint, but if you thought they all should've been $5, you're nuttier than I am.

I made sure to keep my older PSP-3000 around, because I still have my collection of UMD games, but also because I had some downloadable Japanese games, and switching accounts on one PSP just to play a different game can be a hassle. I was prepared to make the Go my "American" system. And again, I liked the Go because it was smaller and thinner. I could put it in any pocket on my person or in a bag and I barely notice it.

So, once October 2009 rolled around, I got my PSP Go. Weeks and months went by where I felt pretty good about it. I had it on my commute, and took it on my trip home for Christmas where I played through most of Persona. But I couldn't shake the fact that I felt... weird. Certainly the Go had enough to interest me, but something about using it felt kind of off. When I hold it, it's difficult for me to find a "default" position that's comfortable, or comfortable enough. The design of the unit encourages me to touch the L and R buttons at all times, but that doesn't feel as great when I lay my thumbs on the rest of the buttons.

Furthermore, I thought the Go would make it easier to use the analog nub when playing it, as I got that impression when I held it (briefly) at its E3 debut. But that didn't really work out for extended use, and neither PSP model has a sensible nub placement. I also thought that its thin form would feel fine, too, but it's almost cracker-thin. This isn't a MacBook Air, it's a game system that's manhandled often — staying just under an inch, I think, is a good thickness for any portable.

I wanted to like the PSP Go, but I ended up joining the consensus. I never had a problem with the PSP platform or its games, but this little hiccup in hardware design is hard to defend. PlayStation mastermind Ken Kutaragi left Sony before the Go came out, but I wonder what he really thought of it. He's a guy who defends his products to the death, but I doubt he'd have let the Go out the door without significant revising.

Since I've let my Go sit around, and I have that other PSP to play my Japanese download games, I've been left wanting to pick up yet another PSP. Just a plain Piano Black Core set, nothing special. It's just $130, you know, and the NGP is still a ways off. As for the Go, will I keep it around? Sure — what am I, crazy?

This article originally appeared on as Editorial: Me & My PSP Go

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Ray Barnholt

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