It’s already been 17 years since the PlayStation Portable (PSP) released on December 12th 2004 in Japan. This was Sony’s first handheld PlayStation console and went on to be a fan-favorite for many players. The PSP introduced the XrossMediaBar UI that would be used in the PS3 shortly after. With XrossMediaBar came the support for watching movies, browsing the internet, listening to music, playing games both online and offline along with customization through themes. Many modern devices do this now but at the time, Sony made a revolutionary device with Wi-Fi capabilities. The PSP also used a new kind of physical media to play games, the Universal Media Disc. The UMD was small enough for the PSP to play games and movies while still being able to deliver impressive visuals and experiences similar to the PS2. At launch, The PSP featured games like Ridge Racers, Lumines and Everyone’s Golf Portable.
Those with a PS2 and PS3 could already benefit from the PSP’s feature set. For instance, players could transfer save data, items and even content between the home console and handheld versions of games. Gran Turismo players could invest time into GT on PSP, build up a garage of cars and transfer them into Gran Turismo 5 on PS3. Even wrestling games supported features like this in as Smackdown! vs. RAW 2006 via USB connectivity. Later revisions of the PSP would improve the system with longer battery life, decrease the handheld’s weight and offer a variety of custom editions. As digital commerce began to boom, Sony introduced the PlayStation Network and PlayStation Store for PSP. Players could buy digital games and install them to their memory card for the first time in PlayStation history. In addition, PSP software updates would be sent out on a regular basis. This would become the standard for Sony and home consoles going forward.
Sony would introduce the digital-only handheld PSP Go in 2009. The PSP Go did not have support for UMDs but offered an interesting alternate for players who wanted to keep all their games on the go. Fans would still prefer the traditional PSP model which was a lot more successful and supported the entire library of games. By the end of the PSP generation, the handheld sold around 80 million units worldwide. It was a success for Sony but was still far behind the Nintendo DS. This prompted Sony to introduce a successor, the ill-fated PS Vita. The PSP was a memorable console and a home to tons of JRPGs, arcade games, media and much more. It provided a glimpse into Sony’s future with PlayStation Network, the PlayStation Store and media support.
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