The PSP1’s Future Prospects?

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There’s been a huge burst of news articles surrounding the PSP2, or ‘NGP’ as its working name has it known. All eyes are trained on the upcoming fight between the 3DS and NGP; who will prosper and who will fail abysmally? Questions you should hold back for another article, because right now we’ll be looking at what’s in store for the underdog of the handheld world of consoles, namely the PSP. It’s well known in the gaming world that the PSP didn’t do “all that well” so to start off lets look at some of the figures. So far the PSP has sold around 66 million units; that’s a fair amount of hardware in the hands of the general public, but in comparison to the DS/DSi/DSiXL line it seems fairly small potatoes. The combined sold DS units add up to a staggering 145.2 million units so far and are still selling well, so it’s no wonder that gamers are expecting another repeat of history when it comes to the new contenders. As mentioned above however, we’re here to look at the bigger picture of the story and not just how the new guys will fare.

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"It's a PSP Jim, but not as we know it!"

66 million units is nothing to be smugly snorted at, the money generated from these sales on hardware alone is a pretty penny to be sure. The software for the PSP has always been said to be a little lacklustre, but looking at what’s on offer for the PSP now we see a great line up for any newcomer. As some of you will know the PSN has a “PSP Essentials” list including games such as Wipeout Pulse, LocoRoco, Patapon 1 &2, Burnout Legends, Everybody’s Golf and Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters. Those listed are by no means all there are on offer, the downloadable list comes to around 75 games in total and is growing by the week – but that’s just the Essentials list that also comes in real world flavours. We know Sony have been busy adding to their new minis range also, which runs into around the 200 games mark so far, and these are much cheaper than full retail released games (though, it has to be said, are still a bit more expensive than the App Store offerings) and includes big-hitters from the App Store such as Edge, Bloons, Angry Birds and Shift. There are also various services that Sony have offered the PSP audience including a Skype mode, mobile radio networks, downloadable movies, media Go and interactive comics, and all this combines to give the user something that can be utilised as not just a mobile games console, but a very useful multimedia device.

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"Yeah, I'm sorry. I can't hear you because I'm talking on a PSP, the wrong way"

So why then, did the PSP “fail”? Too much to offer perhaps and thereby confusing the market, or not enough support from it’s birth? Whatever the reasons, I’m convinced it’s about to take a U-turn from its trend. The Essentials list I mentioned before has been steadily dropping in price over the last few months, going from around £9.99 to a more wallet pleasing £6.99 or less. Could this be a sly move being made by Sony to position the PSP toward a much more purse-friendly price point? The ever-growing minis catalogue is also becoming stronger by the day, and has been subject to various sales over the winter months bringing prices down again to around the £0.99 mark rather than its hefty £2.99 price points. With the new NGP and Xperia (or Sony Phone) close to release it would make good business sense to offer the lesser PSP models for much, much less. What this will then do is allow the technophiles to revel in their new hardware and argue over which is better, but also give those with a lesser budget or interest a chance to break into the handheld world of gaming with much less financial risk. The new Xperia phone will also bring access to some of the games mentioned previously but also allow users to surf the Andriod market too, effectively giving people an alternative to Apple’s massive world dominating App Store. So, all well and good but keeping on track with the PSP, what does that mean for the unloved device?

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"It's just an experiment!" I cried. But no one would listen

It seems Sony have another little trick up their collective sleeve, going by the name of PS Suite. There hasn’t been too much talk about this around the internet but it’s known to be a “cross-device content delivery service” opening up a huge amount of content for the Xperia and NGP. It also means any smart phone will be able to utilise Sony’s massive back catalogue of games and thereby offering their content to a huge new user base; but I digress, we’re talking about the PSP here and as such I’m hoping the device won’t be left out of this loop. My reasoning is this; as PS Suite brings access to PS games en mass, the PSP will hopefully be reconsidered by new users. By allowing access to the minis range and a host of PS1 classics, rather than pinching a few for your smart phone and “making do”, new users might consider buying a (new low price) PSP for dedicated gaming. It’s a bit of a long shot I know, but it could happen. There’s no denying the face of mobile gaming hasn’t just had a bit of cosmetic surgery, but rather an entire head-transplant, and as this becomes glaringly obvious companies such as Sony and Nintendo will have to evolve to survive. Sony seem to be making the right steps this time, and those who insist the NGP should be priced alongside the new DS are missing the point. The PSP and 3DS are already nearly on a graphical par, obviously the 3DS has a lot more power (and its 3D screen) but its price will reflect that. What the PSP has in relation to that is a huge back catalogue that’s still growing today, not to mention its versatile nature which allows much more to be done with it. A PSP might be “too clunky” or “awkward” for most commuters to bring with them during their daily travels, but I wonder how fast that attitude would change if it only cost £50 or £60 to buy brand new.

If Sony reposition the humble PSP to a price that’s attractive, while bringing awareness to a larger audience via PS Suite, the PSP might just get another gust into its sails (see what I did there!?). At this time of writing the PSP is currently leading the sales pack in Japan thanks to Monster Hunter, and once the big boys come out to play (namely the NGP and 3DS) those who scoff at the price of the new machines might feel a little more shop-smart by buying a PSP instead. With the declining prices of the Essentials list, access to a growing minis list, and continued support who would blame them? If Sony can get their marketing right this time (hey! You never know) and make it known that it’s possible to play their games on either a generic smart phone, the home-grown Xperia, the NGP or any model of PSP it should be easy for anyone with any budget to gain access to the majority of their software. Who knows, the PSP might one day see that 100 million mark too!

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Written by R.Furie

Ross has been playing games since he can remember and has had games machines around him all his life. He’s what we now refer to as “Old Skool” because he grew up playing games with a hand carved wooden joystick on a TV forged from rope and stone. Nourished on a diet of Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Joust, Gauntlet, Bomber Jack and other various wholesome arcades he has grown to become a versatile and open minded gamer. Favouring the style of open-world games he’s sure VR can’t be far away, and looks forward to attaching himself to a colostomy bag and slipping into a deep VR coma so he need never have to deal with real life again.

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