When you play a video game, you'll always have to wait for the game to load. From the moment you turn on your PlayStation or Xbox, you'll wait. Sometimes you might wait a few seconds, other times you might change the channel and watch a little golf. You'll even fruitlessly mash buttons in attempt to make the loading screens go by faster. When the game finally finishes loading, you might get to play some of it, and then you'll see another loading screen. It makes you wonder, when developers claim that a game has 40 hours worth of gameplay in it - do they factor in the time you spend staring out into space?
Recently, the PSP caught some heat for its inordinately long load times. Some users even posted videos on the Internet describing their experiences. One game in particular drew lots of ire: WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006. The game takes multiple minutes to start a match, regardless of whether you want to use a custom play mode or simply want a quick match. Long load times aren't anything new; but when you combine them with portable devices, they're sure to press a few buttons (pun intended).
We're certain that most of the issues arise from the UMD media and the optical drive. The PSP has to spin up the drive, seek across the disc, and load the data. All of these actions require large amounts of time in comparison to Nintendo's cartridge based system.
In the interests of gaming science, we decided to find out how long it takes the PSP to move you from a dull glassy eyed stare to actively playing. We tried to test every game currently out for the PSP, but instead had to settle for all the games we could get our mitts on. In the end, we managed to include over 80 games in the article, which should make for a good representative batch. Our tests showed that very few games could load up in under a minute. Many games took two or even three minutes. One game took four minutes to load - WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006.
To ensure that we obtained reliable data, we measured the load time of each game from the moment we powered up the PSP to the point where we were actually playing the game. Where necessary, we quickly proceeded through the menu structure of each game, loading saved games, or choosing the quick-play option where possible. We ran each test two times and averaged the results.
Our tests have, at the minimum, an error of plus or minus three seconds. With each run, the speed at which we navigated through the game's menu structure changed slightly. Another source of error arises from our ability to start and stop the timer accurately while watching the PSP.
The PSP has a standby mode that lets you boot a game up very quickly, but every user will have to start the game from scratch at least once, if not many times, if they change games often. We chose not to test the standby mode, as most games booted up within a handful of seconds with this feature.If you have a PSP, how long do your games take to load? What about the games from your other handhelds or consoles?
Under the Hood: PSP Load Times
Let's face it. The PSP suffers from horrendous load times. But just how bad are they?