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Sony: "We can't" compete with smartphones

Shuhei Yoshida has said Sony learned its lesson from the PSP's modest feature base, and is going for gold with the NGP - but not, apparently, by chasing the smartphone dollar.

"Just having nice graphics is not enough; people prefer playing on a large screen at home. That was the biggest lesson we learned in designing NGP," Yoshida told EDGE.

"Of course we advanced the CPU and GPU again, and developed the 5-inch OLED, but I’m sure in a couple of years people will get used to seeing it, so if we stop there we’ll make the same mistake we did on PSP.

"So what we made sure was to bring enough new hooks on NGP so that we can continue to create unique gaming experiences that you cannot get on consoles. Touch capability on both front and back, AR, sensors, social connectivity: these features will challenge NGP developers’ ability to create longer than PSP."

The NGP's 5-inch screen is one of the console's major draws, a feature Sony chose to pursue after the failure of the slim, light PSPgo proved portability isn't the bee's knees.

"We went for a large screen with NGP because – looking at how people are adapting to smartphones – in a couple of years everybody will have one, and everybody will have the opportunity to play downloaded application games. So we have to create enough strong reasons for people to look at NGP in addition to the smartphone they already have."

The key message there is "in addition to" - Sony's not trying to muscle out the competition.

"We are not trying to compete with smartphones, we can't," he said.

"Looking at the adoption of the iPad and other tablets, if there are enough reasons, people do want another device. People might carry NGP with them or use it at home – that’s ok. NGP – like PSP was – is your second screen. The portability is very good; not for putting in your pocket, but it can fit in your bag easily as it’s smaller and lighter than an iPad."

The president of Son'y Worldwide Studios said marketing is yet to focus on the NGP's multimedia features, as it did with the PSP, because smartphones already do that, making it a secondary concern for many consumers.

"But because NGP has the 5-inch OLED screen, the video capability is great; some web-browsing and social networking is easier," he added.

But the decision to walk away from the smartphone scene isn't the only reason the NGP , while will feature 3G connectivity, eschews cellular voice and therefore, mobile phone capability.

"What we decided was, yes, we want 3G but having voice will limit us in terms of designing the gaming experience," Yoshida explained.

"For example the 5-inch OLED screen – you wouldn’t have a 5-inch screen on a smart- or cell- phone, it wouldn’t fit in your pocket."

Nevertheless, 3G is an important aspect of the console's build, as Sony sensibly eyes the building trend for social connectivity.

"3G allows you to connect to the gaming community all the time. ... We wanted to bring those social network features to our gaming. So we decided let’s have 3G but no [cellular] voice – we don’t need it. For game communication like voice-chat we don’t need cellular voice, we can always go over IP.

"So [we’re] retaining that capability of voice communication through games and having 3G as an option – because it’s going to be too expensive for some consumers to pay for communications in addition to the content."

Sony's codenamed NGP is due for full reveal at E3, where it is suspected it will be renamed PS Vita. Previews of the device went live overnight, along with a massive pre-E3 info dump.

Thanks, Gamefront.

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