Tuesday, February 01, 2005

PSP In March

Browsing Play.com this morning, I espied a new PSP section under "Games". "Oh aye?", thought I, so I jolly well clicked the the linky thingy.

According to Play, the release date for the UK is 25/03/2005, at a price of £199, which just happens to co-incide with the release of a certain other console (and maybe the same as the US PSP release? After a quick look, all I Can find for the US is "March 2005").

If this is the case, we can once again blow our "Rip-Off Britain" trumpets, since Sony has repeatedly stated the US version of their new hand-held will be "under $200" -- which I took to be $199.99 (~£111).

I guess after the iPod shuffle almost-same-as-US-price I was hoping we were ushering in a new era of not being screwed on hardware...


mmChronic said...

Fsck me - 200 quid is much worse than the now you see it, now you don't 180 quid preorder on Amazon - and we whinged at that.

If that does turn out to be the UK release price that's the PSP officially ruled out of my gaming hardware purchase plans. I'm not paying twice as much as America does for a faulty console. Fsck 'em.

Oh and someone from gbax was on the site last night after I enquired about affiliation so I know they've read my email. Still no actual response from them despite this quote from them on their affiliation page: We will get back to you as fast as our fingers will let us. They must have really arthritic fingers. ;)

Merg said...

Aye, I was a little stunned at the 1:1 pricing -- so much so, I did some poking around, incase Play was importing US models and selling them early, so to speak.

But I found official confirmation than the EU release date is indeed 25/03/2005. What remains now is to see if they have the price correct -- I was expecting maybe £149.

Granted, Sony's reputedly losing a lot of cash on each unit sold currently (the Japanese model retails for the equivalent of $185(~£103), apparently!) but I don't see why we should be the ones to make up the short-fall...

I read somewhere else (I forget where so no link...) that Nintendo are also making a loss on the DS, though presumably less than Sony is on the PSP, when one compares the relative component lists. (That 4" LCD display probably costs a fortune!)

I thought Nintendo's DS prices for the EU were bad enough!

So... here's something you won't see often. All praise to Apple for not totally screwing us on the iPod shuffle pricing (and IIRC, the Mac Mini prices are pretty close, too).

Mind you, I do rather like OS X.

mmChronic said...

You might not see it often but it has been seen before. We love Apple. Probably. ;)

It's criminal if Sony are actually using us to cover their hardware losses elsewhere. In fact I'll do the here and now statement - if the PSP gets released at 200 quid (or anywhere approaching) in the UK I will never buy anything from Sony ever again. Sony will have lost me as a customer forever.

Merg said...

Heh. Can I quote you? :)

(or, to put it another way, "never say never").

Could be it'll debut high and then drop for the Christmas season, to ... ah... fleece the early adopters.

We, as they say, shall see.

It could be Sony's making a loss even if it is £199 -- one place was reckoning Sony was losing nigh on 100 quid per system at the US price, which could in theory mean a slight loss per unit. Of course, I suspect much of what I read was guesswork.

I wouldn't want to pay 200 notes for one though, esp with the infamous LCD dead-pixel thang as discussed previously.

Of course, Play could have their figures wrong.

Amazon's £179 price is back (which is still a rip at ~$322).

mmChronic said...

I did say if which leaves room for Play being wrong. But if they do launch at 200 quid then I definitely won't buy owt off them again - I'll buy a second hand one then warez it to fsck. And set up a website detailing how to do it for the n00bs. Fsckers.

As I am quite often an early adopter I feel even more aggrieved that they may be targeting people like me to help cover losses elsewhere in the world.

Merg said...

Indeed... but they use the 'excuse' of "you pay taxes shown as part of the price tag" as an "excuse" even though even with VAT added on to the US price there's a 50 quid difference...

So... if it launces at Amazon's £179, will you get one? ;)

Not heard anything of w4r3z for the PSP yet either. Nor the DS, come to that. (Obviously, I'm interested on an intellectual level).

Both are using strong encryption as part of their protection systems. IIRC, the PSP uses AES (Rjindahl) encryption and the DS uses RSA. Someone's managed to dump the DS Metroid demo and there's some homebrew code running on it already though. The PSP's funky custom media might makes things somewhat trickier.

The other thing to remember is with the PSP you pretty much need to buy a Sony Memory Stick Duo card for the PSP, which will push the base price up (and, of course, as is traditional today, you need to buy a game. Oddly, I was reading reviews on Amazon last night and someone commented on getting the Metroid demo with the DS and how he'd never seen that before -- I'm old enough to remember that *every* console had a pack-in game... from Combat on the Atari 2600 to Mario Brothers on the NES to Altered Beast (and later, Sonic) on the Megadrive, to Super Mario World on the SNES and of course Tetris on the Gameboy... ah, the good old days!)

Dogs said...

Well it's put me off for sure. Who gives a toss that they may lose £100 per unit? I wonder if the quoted £100 loss is from retail price or manufacturing cost?

Anyway, when did you last hear a mobile phone company complaining that they lose money on giving away mobiles for free? Not when you have to pay them to make calls, or, in gaming world perspective, not when Sony take a percentage for every game sold.

Anyone know what percentage Sony take from third party titles?

mmChronic said...

179 is too much as I said earlier. 100 quid is about the right price for a handheld - I paid 90 for my GBA and SP and think that was about right.

You may not be able to do the warez thing yet - but it will happen as you know. And I'll be there to show you how to do it on FsckSonyByWarezingTheirGames.com. ;)

As Dogs points out in his weekly visit the usual model of paying for console hardware losses is to sell software - I object to being asked to pay for it directly.

Re a pack in game - I got Chu Chu Rocket with my DC I think and fairly sure I got something with my CD32 - but I've had nowt since with any console.

Merg said...

Traditionally in consoles most companies lose initially on the hardware -- at the PS2's launch it was reported to stockholders that Sony weren't starting to make a profit until they'd sold 5 games per unit.

Of course, subsequent redesigns of the console coupled with falling prices due to mass production and memory etc. generally getting cheaper means they now make a per-unit profit on the same system :)

I think even MS isn't losing on the Xbox now.

I've no idea what the percentage per title is anymore for Sony -- IIRC a dev told me it depended who you were, and that EA kept a bigger slice of the pie than pretty much everyone else. Of course, EA are not a company to pith orf if you're a console maker...

Merg said...

I dunno... one can argue that the GameCube has been substantially succesful with their anti-warez technique. It sort of appeared after a while with a really faffy method using a PC and Phantasy Star Online, where you streamed the game from the PC... and then they came up with a mod-chip late last year (4 wires, IIRC) that I believe allows the booting of "backups" -- but don't quote me.

It's hardly mainstream, unlike Xbox/PS2/GBA piracy tho. And the PSP uses those funky little mini-disc-esque jobbies (UMD or something)...

I'm sure someone will figure out a way but I'm thinking whether or not it's mainstream, I guess.

I think the PSP will still sell at that price point, because the kids won't care, they'll just hassle their parents. And in many cases, parents have more money than sense. Not to mention, Sony will try and make it the trendy toy a la iPod, and look how much people paid for those just for music on the move ;)

mmChronic said...

Point is though though the GC may be more underground it has been done as you say. Everything is cracked eventually - it's just a case of cost and time.

I think (in fact I know) more effort would have been applied to cracking the GC if more than 3 people bought it. PSP is selling very well (just read somewhere that weekly sales in Japan are slightly higher than DS now though DS has still sold most overall to date) so will be a success and will be a prime target of the warez scene.

And if I keep my promise I'll be showing people how to do it so it won't be underground. I will of course register all domains, do posting etc while at your house to avoid detection. ;)

Dogs said...

Sony are touting 128 bit AES encryption, which is the same shizzle that my wireless firewall is currently using and has, apparently, never been broken. T
hen again we all know that with game protection you don't have to break it, just copy it. Then there's something about every PSP having its own unique ID. Quite whatt that does is anybody's guess.

bungers said...

I bet the PSP r0x at whateva price! Hahaha! I bet the DS sux0rs! The PSP will be loads better cause it has more GFX p0w3r! Woo!

mmChronic said...

Isn't the AES bit for encrypting the wireless signal? ie not for protecting the contents of memory. I have to admit to reading very little of the PSP/DS tech info -as I'm waiting for the dev sites to amass a nice collection rather than learn stuff piecemeal.

Regardless - it will be broken.

mmChronic said...

Oh and for Bungers:


Dogs said...

Note to self. Must knock out Bungers next time I see him.

AES was just a snippet I read on the Play.com site, no doubt originating from the Sony hype machine. It does appear to be talking about disc protection. Ho ho.

mmChronic said...

It does indeed look to be for the media according to the blurb at Play. Presumably though if you can spoof the id for disc and machine and then the same key can be used for everything?

I still reckon the PSP will be cracked.

Merg said...

7/10 for Bungers fanboi impression -- he spelled far too many words correctly and it was readable.

AES - not sure.

On the DS, RSA is used for communications between the cart and the console. My understanding is that the data is stored unencryhpted but the only interface requires all data be encrypted. At run-time the real-time-clock plus something from the unencrypted card header (that can be read fine) is used to generate a key and from there the whole data stream's encrypted (which presumably means some encrypted kit on the cart -- isn't that somewhat akin to what SD offers?)

I guess Sony could be storing the data on the disks in an encrypted format and have a key of some kind in the ATIP-type are of the discs which the PSP's firmware then uses somehow to generate a decryption key.

AES is a strong encryption method in that there's no known flaws. However, the way the key exchange is done etc. with the PSP is where any likely weakness would be.

Talking of "where there's enough money", etc. Sky's encryption - Mediagard? SECA II? I forget - AFAIK hasn't been broken either. At least, I don't know anyone with pi-rat cards and I knew tons of people with pi-rat SKy analogue/OnDigital/etc. cards in the past, soooo....

mmChronic said...

But that's just gay telly! All the best crackers are doing mod chips for consoles! ;)

I have seen pirate stuff for sky in the past - someone I worked with had some card with eeprom stuff on that you did things with - fsck knows what but he had all sorts for free tv. This was about 8 years ago though so I don't know the current state of play.

Gut feeling - do you think the PSP will be cracked? Either to the point where you and I could play with it or to the point where the man in the street could play with.

Merg said...

I'm fairly convinced we'll see commercial piracy, ie discs on market stalls and ebay.

Download-it-yourself... I'm less convinced... perhaps a mod chip that can boot from flash -- but with disks holding 1.8gig, it's either going to take a very expensive card or games will have to be ripped.

I've no idea what those UMD disks are, or if they're even optical -- the MD disks (which look quite similar but hold a lot less) are essentially magnetic. So I've no idea what might be able to write them.

I think it it happens, it'll be hassle -- far more than, say, a modded PSX was.

Put me down for a yes, with reservations. But, I could be wrong ;)

hm... Addendum:"Perhaps more remarkable was Kutaragi's announcement that Sony will release the specs for the UMD, allowing other electronics manufacturers to create UMD players and peripherals. "We are already planning to make the UMD disc media into an open standard," said Kutaragi. Historically, Sony has been tightfisted with its proprietary formats, letting few if any external electronics makers create players using the format. However, in almost every instance, this has led to a format that was not popularly adopted, as was the case with Betamax videocassettes and the Minidisc audio format.

However, Sony's generosity has its limits. The company will remain the sole manufacturer of hardware that uses the UMD for game purposes. "Games will be limited to the PSP, but movies and music should be for everyone," said Kutaragi.

The UMD is a 60mm optical disc capable of holding up to 1.8GB of data. UMDs can contain movies, music, and video games. Currently, Sony has only released UMDs containing games for the PSP, with the exception of the demo disc that comes with the unit, which contains several movie trailers."

So... perhaps after all...

PS Lik-Sang sells PSP consoles for £175!

So... is it Play/Amazon who are ripping people off? Or is it Sony?

Merg said...

PS about Sky -- what you refer to is Sky Analogue -- I'm talking about Sky Digital.

mmChronic said...

Is Digital not done yet? I'll do that tonight then. After I put all the new icons up. Probably.

Could the PSP be the 1st handheld (that I know of anyway) to require a mod chip?

Presumably LikSang are selling PSPs destined for the Asian market with some markup for their own profit. I can't wait to see the final UK prelease price now.

Merg said...

Indeed -- it will be seriously funny if importing one via Lik-Sang ends up being cheaper. (tho' of course that's *cough* ex-VAT...)

At least the rather... ah... tardy-at-answering-email gbax PSP is £219 :)

Makes you wonder tho' ... surely retailers have some idea of the price point by now?