Sunday, August 06, 2006

Has the PSP died already?

On E3 2003 & 2004, Sony and Nintendo were hyping their next-gen handhelds: The Nintendo Dual-Screen and the Sony Playstation Portable. Sony was hyping the PSP's graphical prowess and multimedia capabilities, while Nintendo was hyping the touch-screen, which supposedly sported a new way of play. Well, let's fast-forward to now. The DS has been out for a year and a half, and its selling like hotcakes. Like Nintendo's past excursions, there's an updated DS- the DS Lite. The DS Lite sports better backlighting, slimmer (and sleeker) form, better buttons, etc. And people are buying it in droves. In fact, the combined sales of the DS and the DS Lite are a ground-breaking 21 million. Supporting these sales are strong first party support. The number of games Nintendo has made for the DS already is staggering. New Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 64 DS, Super Mario Kart DS, Yoshi touch & go, Warioware, Nintendogs, etc. Nintendogs has sold over 3 million copies alone. In short, the DS was a huge success. But what about the PSP? That's a different story. When the PSP launched in Japan in December, the figures looked quite good. The PSP was doing just about as well as the DS. When the PSP launched in the U.S, in March however, the first million shipment didn't sell for weeks. Now, why was that? Some say its because of the high price, and that was defintitely a factor. And the fact that Japan got both versions of the PSP (the value pack and the standalone) and the US didn't until 2006... that was a big factor as well. Whatever way it happened, the systems didn't really sell until May. After that, the PSP good sales in the USA and in Japan. By the end of 2005, the PSP had an established userbase of 3 million. But during 2005, things went downhill. Why? I think it was because of the drought of truly compelling games. There were almost no games released in the summer. Fall and Winter were much better seasons for the PSP, as GTA: LCS, Tokobot, SOCOM: Alpha Team Bravo, Infected and a whole bunch of other good and great games were released. In 2006, the quality of games got better with the releases of Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror, Daxter, Field Commander, Untold Legends: Warrior's Code and others. And it looks like the quality will only get better, as predicted by the upcoming Loco Roco, Ultimate Ghosts n' Goblins, GTA: VCS, Lumines 2, Every Extend Extra, Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters, MGS: Portable Ops, GT4 Mobile and more. So why are the PSPs still not selling much? I think the answer lies in the hearts of jaded gamers. Because it took this long to get the great games we wanted since day 1, some people just didn't feel that the PSP was worth the cash. Others have been waiting for a lot of great games to come out so that they actually have games to buy, and still others just don't want to pay 200-250$ for a portable gaming system, since the DS Lite is 100-50$ cheaper, and are waiting for a price drop. So to me, its a matter of time before Sony's PSP sales go up again (like when they do another price drop). The other thing that's been driving away potential PSP buyers are the supposed defects. Let me clear up something: When people say that the PSP's battery life is 2-4 hours, they're telling a white lie. The PSP's battery lasts that long IF you put the screen on full brightness. But really, there's no need to because the lowest brightness is still very bright, and its easy to see whats going on on the screen. Another thing people have been saying is that when you open the UMD drive it sometimes pops out the UMDs (at high velocity). This is a lie, plain and simple. Another thing that's been said is that the square button sticks. This used to be true-in Japan. The first PSPs that were released in Japan had this problem because of the square button's proximity to the screen. But Sony fixed it for the US and European releases so now that's not a problem. And the analog stick falling off? by a whole pack of them for less than 2 dollars. If you were to ask me for my opinion, I'd say that the PSP hasn't died. Far from it. In fact, the PSP has a healthy number of owners. And if Sony were to really market the PSP agressively and start seriously making original I.Ps for it, then there'd be a lot more activity. But as it is, Sony hasn't done bad at all for a first try in the handheld buisness. In fact, they've done quite well. Although the PSP hasn't won the war, its still been able to put up a good fight. And who knows? Maybe all of the problems that people had with it will be remedied with the next PSP, if it ever sees the light of day.


Blogger gg said...

The problem with the PSP, imo, is that it's basically offering the same PS2 games purely converted to PSP format. There's no innovative spin to gaming. The biggest selling point to the PSP is it's movie capabilities, but with UMD now dead, this hurts its appeal. The whole point almost to the PSP was Sony yet again trying to force a format onto the world that is just unsuccessful.

Another problem with the PSP has been its price and its technical flaws. Taking out all the "lies", it still released with a bunch of flaws. Again, "typical" Sony product, expensive stuff that isn't really that well made.

The Nintendo DS and DS Lite are rock-solid built. It's whole reason is to innovate gaming with touch-screen etc. Based purely as a gaming hardware + very cheap = hit item.

You can see the same thing developing with the Wii and the PS3. Sony purely out to force an inferior format (blu-ray) and too expensive, not focused on pure gaming. While the Wii will be very cheap, based purely on gaming, and has an innovative Wii-mote mechanism. As already can be seen, the popularity is mainly with the Wii and not the PS3.

You can almost expect the PS3 to follow the PSP's fate by having a few crucial/bad press flaws while the Wii will be rock-solid. The PS3's wont significantly fall for a long time, making Wii far more attractive to buy. You will see blu-ray ultimately fail like UMD.

Btw, welcome to the team!

8/07/2006 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger gg said...

typo - the ps3's PRICE wont significantly fall for a long time...

8/07/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger weird guy said...

The only reason blu-ray is inferior right now is because its still using single-layer disks instead of dual-layer because of a manufacturing problem, and the HD-DVDs are dual-layer, and most likely are using MPEG4 or something along those lines which is why the video looks so much better.

The Ninendo DS Lite has tons of hardware problems as well, such as the shifting touch-screen, snapped screen cable wire, broken hinge, etc. and technically you could say that theres no innovative spin on most of the Nintendo DS games because most of them are rehashes of Palm-OS or PDA games that I had played long before there was any "Kirby" or "Mario" attached onto the title. And Nintendogs? Anyone who has a Tamagotchi or plays Neo-pets on the internet already knows how the game goes.

8/08/2006 03:55:00 PM  

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