Exhibit A: Are you being “gouged”?

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This week the new download-only PSPgo was released to a surprising amount of rancor across the web. Certain sites have published ill-considered, extremely negative reviews of the device citing things like a high price and no upgrade path for existing PSP owners. Of course, if you take existing owners out of the equation, and you really should (there’s no reason to upgrade), a lot of the complaints don’t apply anymore.

But some persist. It’s pricy, but the smaller size may hold value for a lot of people. No support for faster wifi is disappointing. The lineup of downloadable games is missing some important titles, like every Final Fantasy game Square has released for the PSP. The MGS: Acid games are also MIA. If those are important to you, definitely hold off for a while to see if they materialize, or go with a PSP-3000.

But a lot of people keep harping on the digital distribution only model the PSPgo has adopted for games. The claim, being shrieked in comments and forums everywhere right now, is that the current pricing for downloadable titles is significantly more than the prices for the same games used on UMD. While a lot of people are making such accusations, usually they look up one new game, compare the price on PSN to the price from a single online retailer and then make sweeping generalizations. I took it upon myself to do some actual research into the matter to see how big the difference really is.

METHODOLOGY: Now, I had no interest in checking the prices for all 100+ PSP games you can buy through the PSN. Instead I installed Sony’s MediaGO software and browsed the Playstation Store to pick out all the games I’m really excited to play. I ended up with a list of 9 title and their current price as a download. I then checked Amazon, Buy.com and Gamestop to find the absolute best price, shipping included, for that game on UMD, whether new or used. You’ll see below in every case the best price was from an Amazon seller. Now, you might complain that if you buy from a local store you don’t pay shipping, but in my experience prices online are advertised lower than you can find locally, but when you add in the shipping it’s pretty much a wash. This is just to create a general idea of used prices. I don’t have the time or resources to come up with a true average price for used PSP games across online sellers and B&M shops. That comprehensive research would probably move the used prices higher anyway, and a best case pricing is sufficient for this kind of quick analysis.

RESULTS:

Game title PSN Price UMD Price Store
God of War: Chains of Olympus 15.99 13.24 Amazon
Jeanne D’ Arc 22.99 14.92 Amazon
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 39.99 32.98 Amazon
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite 29.99 26.98 Amazon
Burnout Legends 19.99 14.92 Amazon
Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days 29.99 25.99 Amazon
Prinny: Can I Really be the Hero? 9.99 27.48 Amazon
LocoRoco 2 15.99 11.39 Amazon
Patapon 2 10.89 10.89 Both from Amazon!
TOTAL 195.81 178.79

So, if you buy these games used instead of through PSN you save a grand total of $17.02, or an average of about $1.89 per game. Hmm, not exactly the corporate ass-raping we’ve all been warned of. In addition, UMD games have certain drawbacks. The PSP-3000’s battery life is comparable to the PSPgo’s when playing games from the memory stick, but if you’re playing a used UMD to save a couple dollars that battery life will be significantly shorter. Buying used UMDs also puts you at the mercy of local selections, shipping time for online purchases and the preorder/trade-in nazis at Gamestop and EB. If you buy digital you can also take heart in the fact that your money is actually going to support the developer who made that game and not simply lining the pocket of some highly targeted pawnshop.

So it begs the question, how are PSPgo owners getting ripped off on game pricing again? Or was that all just a bunch of unsubstantiated bluster?