Sony’s PSP may be threatened by the iPhone and woefully behind the Nintendo DS in sales, but it’s the only handheld gaming device that has a console big brother and genuinely plays nicely with it, letting you stream movies and original Playstation games from the Playstation 3. That bond will strengthen later this month, when Sony brings PSP Minis to the PS3.
PSP Minis are a collection of cheap, small-scale games that debuted for the handheld in October. Many are ports of existing iPhone games, but unfortunately they’re more expensive, partly because they require an ESRB rating. Come December 17, an optional PS3 firmware update will turn on the emulator for PSP Minis, letting users play the games on both devices for no extra cost.
Sony’s way ahead of the curve on this idea, not only trumping Apple and Nintendo, but Microsoft as well. Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has talked about the “three screens” of PC, mobile and television, but so far that vision hasn’t applied to gaming. Yes, you can purchase movies through the Zune Marketplace and watch them on either device, but the ZuneHD’s entry into gaming has been rather timid with just a handful of Microsoft-made, ad-supported games, and no talk of support on the Xbox 360. Earlier this year, it was rumored that Microsoft would release a gaming handheld that could transfer games from the Xbox 360, but that report hasn’t panned out.
I’ve come down hard on Sony in the past — the company is content to ignore the iPhone as it hovers in the PSP’s blind spot — but treating the PSP and PS3 as siblings in more than just branding is a good idea. More of this, please.