The NGP, Sony's new gaming portable, might seem like a great machine. But there are things that Sony isn't quite ready to talk about. That doesn't mean I didn't ask after I saw the NGP in Tokyo.
This evening, I had a sit down with Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida, who worked very closely with Sony's hardware engineers to create the NGP. We talked a great deal about games and the hardware itself. But with the press conference today lacking many specific details, I followed up.
When I asked about price, Yoshida replied, "We are not talking about price yet, but I hope that when we announce the price, people will say it makes sense."
I asked Yoshida what he thought about the 3DS's US$250 price tag, to which he replied, "The 3DS is pricier than what Nintendo typically launched their hardware for." He said he thought the 3DS was "pretty interesting", adding that it feels like a more powerful DS.
Sony, a champion of 3D, is not bringing 3D to its NGP. Why? "We evaluated the 3DS screens that are available and the costs," Yoshida said. "And there are lots of trade-offs. This [the NGP] is what we want to do."
When pressed further, Yoshida continued, "The portable is a totally different beast. It's still emerging and in a transitional stage. We are developing a platform to last a long time." So Sony, Yoshida said, made a very careful choice about what is important to them. Apparently, that's not putting 3D in a portable.
There are pictures of what's reportedly a PlayStation Phone being taken apart on the internet and videos of people using it. But Sony didn't reveal a PlayStation Phone today. What gives? Where is it?
"I don't know where that's coming from," Yoshida said. "There are lots of cell phones on the internet."
Continuing, he added, "I can say that's not NGP." So that's something separate? Yes, he said: "That's something totally separate."
The current PSP has Skype. But will the NGP? Because if it does, that could render a phone utterly meaningless. Sony was not willing to comment with Yoshida saying, "So, we are working on providing more than games — networked servies on the NGP. And we'll be able to talk more about these services later."
Sony had working models available to play tonight. Which would mean that conceivably, Sony could go into production soon and start churning them out for everyone to buy and enjoy. "Hardware takes lots of steps. So the answer is 'no'. No, we cannot manufacture in mass production today or tomorrow. But we can later this year."
No doubt Sony will be able to answer more questions then, too.