It looks to me like the 3DS is going to have some pretty solid competition towards the end of this year; Sony announced today the specs for their next generation portable console, aptly codenamed NGP.
It’s got an OLED multi-touch screen, dual analog sticks (not the nub that the PSP had, actual sticks), and a touch interface (it’s not a screen) on the back of the system (you can control it with your fingers without blocking the actual screen).
Games will be available either via download or at retail on flash memory style cartridges; that should speed load times up significantly over the UMD hobbled PSP.
The system itself is apparently almost as powerful as the PS3, which puts it far ahead of Nintendo’s 3DS, even without the capability for glasses-free 3D.
It looks like the press conferences didn’t cover whether the system would have region locks or not; if I were a gambling man, I would lay odds that it won’t be region locked. While the PS1 and PS2 both were, the PSP is region free, as is the PS3. I don’t think it would make much sense for Sony to go back to region locking their systems, unless they expect the economy to further worsen.
No price point was announced. Speculation ranges from $250 or $300 all the way up to $500 or $600 for the system. I think it’s likely that they’ll price it around $300; it’s higher than the 3DS, but the system is more powerful, and it’s not so much higher as not to be competitive.
One point in Sony’s favor is the large list of software developers that have agreed to develop for the NGP. Nintendo’s systems have always had strong first party games, but the third party titles are generally lackluster. Sony has been good about cultivating third party support for just about the entire time they’ve been involved in gaming, and high quality third party games could make or break their system.
The NGP will probably perform about like the PSP did (when compared to the respective Nintendo system); it won’t do as well, but it will still do well enough to make a profit.
The control scheme will make a big difference as well; two analog sticks will mean that first-person shooters will be easy to make/port to the NGP, and will control better than the 3DS releases will (since that system only has the one analog stick).
I’m more interested in the NGP at the moment; glasses-free 3D is a nifty gimmick, but Sony hasn’t yet let me down on the gaming front. Hopefully they’ll deliver the goods here, as well.