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10 Years After the PSP Go, We're Still Afraid of a Digital-Only Future

The PSP Go was released on the first of October ten years ago. It was a new style of the PlayStation Portable with a brand new design, similar to the Game Boy Advance SP earlier that decade. However, the most important and controversial aspect of the handheld was the complete removal of the UMD disk drive, the format in which PSP games were sold on. The only way to play games on the PSP was to download them. However, while the new handheld lacked the disk dive, it did have 16GB of internal memory. It was a digital-only handheld well before its time. In fact, it still may be ahead of its time as people are still afraid of going digital-only for their video games. Let's see how it went down for the PSP Go 10 years ago.

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First off, what is the PSP Go? The PSP Go was the fourth iteration of the PlayStation Portable, after the original 1000 model, the modified 2000, and the most recent 3000 model. It's 43% lighter and 56% smaller than the original model and 16% lighter and 35% smaller than the PSP-3000. Its 3.8 inch LCD screen slid up to reveal the controls. It kept many of the features of the previous PSPs, including 802.11b Wi-Fi, and video out compatibility, and added some new features, including Bluetooth support which allowed for play with a Sixaxis or DualShock 3 controller.

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Its main feature was the lack of a UMD disk drive, and 16 GB of storage, which could also be expanded with a Memory Stick Micro (M2) for up to 32 GB of additional storage for a total of 48 GB. It was meant to be a fully portable handheld console with no additional cartridges or disks that needed to be carried around with the system. However, it also retained all of the features the original PSP had and more.

However, the PSP Go was not successful. This is partly because the PSP 3000 still existed and it gave consumers more options since the PSP had -- at that point -- been available for consumers for four and a half years. Furthermore, while all PSP games that had been released after the PSP Go would be available for download, not all of the games released before would be purchasable. Most would but not all. That seems to make the public nervous and that killed the handheld before it even got started. Sony considered re-launching the PSP Go in February of 2010 as sales were poor and consumer interest was low. In June 2010, Sony bundled the system with three games in the US and 10 games in Europe and Australia, and in October 2010, they dropped the handheld's price. It wasn't enough though, and on April 20, 2011 it was revealed the system would be discontinued, nearly a year and a half after the handheld was launched.

Since the PSP Go, buying games digitally has only gone up and is now more common than buying games physically. The PC market has gone almost completely digital with only 8% of PC sales being physical. And that was back in 2014! The mobile market has nearly taken over the handheld market and it is entirely digital. However, the handheld and console markets have been resistant to going completely digital, even as physical media has begun to lose its advantages. Much of the technology in the current home consoles are held back by the physical media aspect. This is why games need to install onto the console's hard drive now, as optical drives are too slow to keep up.

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However, there is one console that tried to be all-digital and that is the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition or Xbox One SAD Edition. Unfortunate name aside, it was the same as the Xbox One S model but without the Blu-Ray drive, a 1TB hard drive, and came with Forza Horizon 3, Minecraft, and Sea of Thieves. It was released earlier this year on May 7th. Nothing has been heard about the system since its release and Microsoft has not released any sales numbers, but it stands to reason that if the console was a success, Microsoft wouldn't be keeping it a secret. So it appears that this model may already be quietly discontinued and they're just hoping no one would remember this happened.

Sony has announced the production of the PlayStation 5 and one detail they gave out was that it would still have an optical drive. It's more powerful than what is available on consoles now, being a 4k Blu-Ray drive, but games will still be installed onto the hard drive as the optical drive is still too slow to run games properly anymore, especially with the PS5's included solid-state drive. This is a console designed around a digital prominent format and yet it still needs to have a physical option because too many people are attached to their disc collection. This number is dwindling, but it's prevalent enough to keep physical media a main feature of the console. 10 years after the PSP Go, despite all the numbers saying otherwise, we are still not ready for a digital-only platform.

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