PSP going nowhere, gaming exec alleges
Sony needs to make clear what the handheld's about
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.
Well, it's people who pirate the games that cause the problem. The firmware being flashable has been a great feature as it's allowed the feature set of the PSP to expand greatly.
Sony's problem is that they weren't able to come up with a way to allow games to verify whether the firmware was an uncompromised Sony version or not. Had they done that, custom firmware/home brew would be the equivalent of a bricked system.
Frankly I think if Sony dropped the standard game price from 439.99 to $29.99 and the less expensive games from $20 to $15 (I know they'd have to reduce royalties and request that publishers comply), the reduced prices would drive sales.
Excuse me? 333MHz with 32MB of RAM (PSP) vs 30-odd MHz and 4 MB of RAM (DS).
And you think the PSP is slow? Having played both I have to say that there is certainly a shocking let down and a horrible gaming experience, but it ain't the PSP. Let's see, DS costs $20 less, only $20. If you compare the two devices, it's hard not to conclude that the DS is an over priced piece of junk, and that's without looking at the build quality. Oh, but it has that touch screen, cool. Yeah, but it doesn't have an analog stick, unlike the PSP. The buttons on the DS are stupidly small unless you are under the age of 13 or have unusually small hands. the screens are so small and the unit itself is so small that you end up hunched over and squinting to see what's happening.
As for gaming experience or speed, as long as you don't mind super enhanced 16-bit style games and graphics, you'll have no problems, however anything more than that and the 30-odd MHz CPU starts to sweat and the memory starts to run low.
So, please, tell us again how it is that you justify your critique? Ah, you can't. No surprise there then.
Its all Sony's fault
Piracy has killed it, nothing else.
Its so incredibly easy to install custom firmware, then just download games to memory stick, instead of juggling with those ridiculous UMD things, that its a no-brainer.
Whoever designed the firmware system has cost the companies millions, along with Sony's non-attempts to lock it down (why not make the PSP slim's ROM non-flash?).
You can see from the torrents and newsgroup download counters where all the game sales are going.
Hardware sales are fine though, incredible in Japan, and its a fantastic multimedia device, livening up any train journey or hotel stay far more than the game-only kiddies friend the DS. Until PSP2 it won't be dead for me.
So long PSP
Mine is on eBay... going to get a DS and an R4 card FTW. Shocking letdown and a horrible gaming experience... can you spell SLOW?
So it's find an excuse to bash Sony day at Ubisoft is it?
What on earth is the point of this interview? I mean, Ubisoft has no plans to develop for PSP in 2008 and so they come out and publicly deride the PSP and Sony's strategy? Sorry, that makes no sense at all. What is it that Ubisoft want? Or was this just their opportunity to bad mouth Sony? It's just weird that they feel it necessary to comment on a platform that they have no plans to work on this year.
As for the PSP in general, it's going through an fairly crap drought of games. As several people have pointed out it's sold a good number here in the US, and has had pretty good sales elsewhere, right now it's very strong in Japan. Compared to DS specifically it's behind the DS in sales. However by every other measure of success the thing is fantastically successful. It's sold more units in it's life than all but a handful of game consoles, ever. And it continues to sell strongly.
The thing that I don't understand about the PSP is where the hell are the game developers? The hardware is undeniably capable. Yet, where are the games? I think the answer is in the kinds of games. DS developers seem to have the approach that this is a hand held gaming device that needs games that are quick, easy to get into, and easy to pause/put down. DS games tend to be simple, basic, and occasionally rough at the edges. There are lots of them, and while there are gems amongst them, a lot of DS games are pure unadulterated crap. PSP developers tend to develop hand held versions of home console games. Games that require lots of attention, sometimes extended play, and are not always easy to dip into for 5 minutes here and there. A lot of PSP games have high production values, which is nice, but those production values translate into longer development times and more expense for the developer leading to fewer games at higher prices.
Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely do want the PSP to continue to have games like FF Crisis Core or God of War, however I also want the thing to have titles like Diner Dash, Cooking Mama, Bejeweled and so forth. The reason we have a drought of game releases is that no one is making these small, simple, quick games for PSP. How hard would it be to crank out puzzle games at $5 a pop? Or more games like Diner Dash at $20 a throw?
Hell, Sony themselves could throw a huge lifeline by simply opening up the PS1 catalog and bringing far more classic PS1 titles to the PSP via the PSN. Even if there were contract issues with 3rd party games. there are dozens of first party titles that there ought to be no contract issues with. With the impending launch of Soul Calibur IV on PS3/360, I can't understand by Soul Blade hasn't made it to the PSP considering that Namco apparently aren't making a Soul Calibur game for the hand held. You could say the same for a lot of the high profile game releases coming. MGS, Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy are three other examples of games that have huge PS3 versions coming soon, and would benefit greatly from the additional promotion of the re-release of the older PS1 versions for the PSP.
The one thing I will take from Ubisoft on this is that Sony need to do more.
Still, what is it that Ubisoft want? This is like complaining that there's not enough HD content to justify buying an HDTV when in fact you have no intention of buying an HDTV this year anyway. What's the point?