Next Generation Portable: Four Things Sony Can Learn From The 3DS Launch

This is without question a critical year for Sony. The famous video game publisher came under attack by hackers who crippled PlayStation Network for well over a month, leaving millions of devoted fans in the dark.

This, despite the company’s efforts to overtake Microsoft’s Xbox 360 with PlayStation 3, and a new handheld, the Next Generation Portable, set for release this fall/winter.

If we had to guess, PS3 will be fine in the long run, thanks to a variety of must have games, but the NGP is in a tight spot. Sony must convince consumers to fork over the cash and replace their PSPs (or DS systems, for that matter) in the face of stiff competition from Nintendo and Apple.

That said, and to ensure NGP’s success, Sony should look at and learn from the arguably lackluster 3DS launch.

Here’s what Sony should do that Nintendo’s didn’t.

Price NGP with consumers in mind

Nintendo made a critical error pricing its 3DS system at $249.99. Although the machine comes with more features than the average DS, buyers are used to spending between $100-$200, at least when it comes to handhelds from Mario and Co.

With this in mind, Sony shouldn’t sell the NGP for $299 and higher. If anything, it should cost between $200-$250. That means taking a hit on the hardware, but you can make up the cash with quality software, which leads us to the next point.

Release a killer launch lineup


We still don’t know what Nintendo was smoking when it chose to nix Mario (the company’s biggest cash cow) from the 3DS launch while attempting to snag prospective buyers with Pilotwings Resort and Steel Diver; at least Nintendogs + Cats cracked a million copies sold. You can definitely make a case for the system’s slow start to a lack of Mario, or even Pokemon, for that matter.

For NGP to become the holiday’s hottest item, Sony needs to release at least one killer App, the game folks can’t live without. Uncharted, Resistance, Killzone and the mother of them all, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision would need to make that happen) are all viable candidates. There’s no way millions of systems will fly off shelves with a lineup that includes Hot Shots Golf, Little Deviants and Wipeout.

Online enabled from day one


The NGP needs access to PlayStation Network on launch day, allowing users to purchase/download content right out of the box. Sony cannot afford to go the 3DS route, which involved delaying the long awaited eShop to June 6, more than two months after the system arrived in the U.S.

Put the best features on display


The 3DS comes with a sweet gyroscope, Street Pass support and cameras that allow for augmented reality gaming, and Nintendo did a horrible job spotlighting these features. A game like Steel Diver makes use of the gyroscope, but it’s also one if the system’s worst rated games. As for the AR technology, the included cards were a 10-minute distraction, at best.

In fact, third parties did a better job harnessing the handheld’s power than the big N.

On that note, the NGP should have games that make use of the second analogue stick and rear touchpad in new and exciting ways.