Feeds

Nintendo vs Sony

Who is winning the handheld war?

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Who exactly is winning the handheld wars? Sony says it is, and Nintendo says it is. Sony says the PSP is selling faster, from launch, than the PSOne or PS2. The PSP is selling neck-and-neck in the US and Europe with Nintendo's DS. In Japan, however, the DS is clearly trouncing the PSP. Whatever the reality is of who is edging out who, Sony's learning some tough lessons in the handheld market. For the first time in a while it isn't a clear market leader. And, worse, not only are the fanboys not with Sony, but key software corporations aren't either.

In the last few weeks, movie support for Sony's UMD discs has fallen away sharply. The Hollywood Reporter claimed that Paramount, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Universal are either significantly scaling back UMD movie support, or cutting it completely.

There are three clear problems with Sony's UMD movie strategy:
1. Who the heck wants to pay a DVD price for a movie you can only play on your PSP?
2. Any early adopter with technical savvy (ie the kind of people who own PSPs) can load movies onto Memory Sticks and watch them on their PSPs, or transfer them onto their video iPods.
3. An early rush of rubbish to the UMD format meant there were loads of titles to watch, most absolute rot. Sony's response? Apparently, they're working on a gadget to let you watch UMD movies on your TV.

The problem here? The limited disc capacity of UMD means the quality won't even match those free DVDs currently cover-mounted on every newspaper. On the other side of the handheld war, things look much better. A redesigned, slimmer and more aspirational DS, the DS Lite, is due for release in June. This will give the DS "sex appeal" to compete with the PSP. A web browser will eventually let the DS compete against the PSP in the "multimedia" realm.

Multimedia is a side-show, though. As one Hollywood executive said of the PSP to the Hollywood Reporter: "It's a game player, period."

But while games on the PSP are largely retreads of PS2 titles, the DS is increasingly home to quirky, inventive and unique gems - from Nintendogs to Trauma Centre, Phoenix Wright to Metroid Prime: Hunters.

While Sony has played on multi-functionality and looks set to fail, Nintendo's DS looks set to triumph by making the best games. It's a lesson Sony would do well to remember when it comes to PS3.

Sharks snag minnows as console market "transition" bites

Microsoft has bought the legendary Lionhead, home of games genius Peter Molyneux and titles including Fable, Black & White and The Movies.

But this bold acquisition counts as nothing compared to Sega. In one day recently it swallowed Islington-based Sports Interactive, makers of Football Manager, as well as hockey and baseball management simulations and San Francisco developer Secret Level, makers of America's Army, Karaoke Revolution, Magic: The Gathering Battlegrounds and Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter. This follows Sega's recent snaffle of The Creative Assembly, the brains behind the Total War series.

What's happening? Simple, the games market's tough right now - and rather than go to the wall, some developers are opting to be swallowed by a big fish. We're in a "transition" market. That means that people are bored of their old consoles - they're spending less on them. Yet, they haven't got round to buying their shiny new one. Not enough people own Xbox 360s, not enough people care about their Xbox or PS2. The result? Put a game out now and it may only sell a few units. Meanwhile, costs for the games small developers are making are spiralling - these companies are working on games three years away. And they're racking up staff costs for hundreds of programmers, artists and others to produce the kind of photorealistic, highly complex games we'll be expecting then.

Yet, the money isn't coming in now. Except, of course, for those who accept the Faustian pact that is being snaffled by a publisher - less freedom to work on what you want, but lots and lots of money to make games with.

Other top stories

Virtual construction company makes real cash uproar
Sega Europe COO answers your questions
Elder Scrolls download costs cause uproar
Xbox 360 to reboot in Japan
Working robots from Lego
Beckham gets runaround from Scooby Doo
Zippy and Bungle in four letter word tirade
Mario April Fools and the bomb squad

Shiny Media gadget obsessives Tech Digest and Games Digest bring you hard-hitting gadget and games news, Who ate all the Bratwurst? has the latest World Cup news while Propellerhead answers your PC queries.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?