Q: I keep hearing about purchasing games over the Internet for the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360. Is there anything like this for PSP? A: This can be a surprisingly complicated question, especially since a lot has changed in the last month or so. The short answer is "Yes." The long answer is... this guide.
Q: What do I need? A: The PSP game site is surprisingly quick to accept your money without providing many details about what you'll need to complete the process. Thus, a brief checklist is in order:
A computer system for loading the games onto the PSP - that is, a Windows PC or a PS3. The PSP store isn't Mac friendly, and it isn't very upfront about its unfriendliness either.
A cable to connect your computer (or PS3) to your PSP. Luckily, this is an easy one, since, for once, Sony lets you use a standard USB A-to-mini B (5 pin) cable instead of a "New Standard So Proprietary You're Not Even Allowed to Know Its Name."
A PSP with current firmware. PSP's can update their own firmware via WiFi if you have a wireless network, or you can also load the firmware update onto the PSP from your computer.
Storage. Downloadable games are usually between 300 MB and 600 MB. You'll need a Memory Stick large enough to hold the games, as well as an Internet connection fast enough to download them.
Q: Wait, did you say 600 MB? Are you crazy? A: Yes, and yes.
Q: All right, fine, I have a Windows PC, and I connected it to my up-to-date PSP containing a huge Memory Stick. Now what?
A: Head over to http://store.playstation.com/. You will have to sign up using an e-mail address, and you can pay using standard credit cards or Sony gift cards. Download and install the PSP Downloader software from the site.
On the PSP, choose "USB Connection" from the main menu screen to establish a connection to the computer. (You won't be able to do anything else on the PSP for as long as it's in USB mode.)
Important: Click your way through the site's "Activate PSP" process before attempting to download any games.
Q: What sort of games are available? A: The site already has a few dozen games and is sure to add more in the future. The most notable games are PS1 classics like Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, and Tekken 2. Most of the games cost somewhere in the range of $6-$10.
Q: Are there any full PSP games for sale in downloadable format? A: Yes, but not many. Wipeout Pure is one example.
Q: I installed the PSP Downloader and connected my PSP, and I still don't see any sign of the Downloader. I can't find it on the Start menu either. A: The Downloader's interface is web-based. In other words, if you have the Downloader installed and the PSP connected, head over to the "View Downloads" section and click on the Download button for the game(s) you have purchased, and this will automatically trigger the Downloader to begin downloading and loading the game onto the PSP.
This has the potential to tie up your PSP for a very long time. Boredom ensues.
Q: So if I'm a Mac user, can I use Parallels/VMWare/Boot Camp? A: I have confirmed that VMWare works. I haven't tested Boot Camp, but it should be okay. Be aware that some versions of Windows have license agreements that prohibit all usage of virtualization software, or prohibit usage of virtualization software for DRM-related tasks.
I haven't been able to get Parallels working in testing. I don't mean working with the PSP software - I mean, it's been quite some time since I've been able to create a Parallels setup that would even boot successfully. I'm sorry to say that this once-great software has fallen almost hopelessly behind VMWare.
Q: Okay, whatever. Can I have a Kindle now? A: Sorry, I hear they're sold out until December.