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PSP going nowhere, gaming exec alleges

Sony needs to make clear what the handheld's about

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Sony hasn't a clue what to do with the PlayStation Portable (PSP), and if it doesn't sort matters out quickly, developers will desert the platform, it has been claimed.

Rob Cooper, UK managing director of French videogames publisher Ubisoft, this week told website Gamesindustry.biz that the handheld console lacks direction.

Sony is "unsure as to which way to take it", Cooper alleged. The consumer electronics giant "needs to show us a bit more about what its plans are to convince the publisher to invest lots more money into it. Especially when you've got the DS selling at such a tremendous pace."

As of January, around 12m PSPs had been sold in the US since the console went on sale there in March 2005. By contrast, over 20m DS consoles had been sold in the US by the end of 2007, but it was first launched there in 2004.

According to Cooper, the PSP is too technical for the casual gamer, causing sales to suffer at the hands of the relatively simplistic Nintendo DS. For example, the PSP boasts numerous functions, including Wi-Fi and PS3 connectivity, which could be marketed to its advantage.

Cooper doesn’t think that software titles and prices are the PSP’s problem. “I don’t think dropping the price of games is going to sell more product or hardware,” he said. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?

Not that it's an issue for Ubisoft: Cooper said that the company doesn’t plan to develop any games for the PSP in 2008.

The Sony handheld has a firm footing in Japan though, where recent sales figures from market watcher Media Create revealed that its sales topped 70,000 units, for the week ended 1 June. By contrast, the rival Nintendo DS only managed 38,355 units during the same period. Over there, the PSP's been selling well throughout the year.

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