Sony Bets Big On PSP Go, Wallet-Buster Price And All

The PSP Go, with which Sony is attempting to eat into a market dominated by rival Nintendo, is unique to the handheld gaming market in that Sony gamers download their games. There's no Universal Media Disc to be inserted; instead, users acquire games through a wireless connection, their PC, or by downloading to their PlayStation 3 and transferring the games to their PSP Go using a USB cable.

Sony debuted PSP Go at this summer's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. The handheld weighs less than 6 ounces and according to Sony is both 40 percent lighter and 50 percent smaller than the original PSP handheld. It has 16 GB of expandable memory and is both WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled. As for content, Sony's expanded PlayStation Network offers more than 225 games -- including hot titles like Gran Turismo -- plus 13,300 TV episodes and 2,300 movies.

Sony also used the announcement to release a number of PSP Minis -- small games priced at $5 to $10 -- and its PSP firmware upgrade 6.10, which Sony says adds "full compatibility" for Sony's MediaGo, a mobile syncing software application for PCs.

Will all those content upgrades and features be enough to sell gamers on opening their wallets, however? At $249, PSP Go is not only $80 more than its predecessor, the PSP-3000, but also way more expensive than the competition. Nintendo's competing handhelds, the DS and DSi, are $129 and $169, respectively.

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At the time of the PSP Go's debut, several observers took Sony to task for the high price, including contentious Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, who accused Sony of "ripping off the consumer" on the gaming industry interview program Bonus Round.

Whether it's the PSP Go or another device, Sony needs a hit. Earlier this year, the company posted its first operating loss in 14 years and has watched its once-mighty consumer electronics division cede ground, especially in video games. Nintendo, for example, has since 2004 sold more than 100 million Nintendo DS handhelds. Nintendo's Wii console also passed Sony's PlayStation 3 in overall sales two years ago.