Over the course of the last twenty years we’ve watched, as gamers, as Nintendo completely dominated the handheld market. Not only did Nintendo dominate with no competition, but when competitors decided to step up and introduce rivals platforms like the SEGA Game Gear, Nintendo held its ground and sent its competition packing — that is, until the PlayStation Portable.
It usually takes a special something to dominate a market for such a long period of time, but Nintendo has always done it through perfect marketing, perfect pricing, and the right selection of games to cater to both the younger and older generations of gamer. When the PlayStation Portable came on to the market, Sony should have taken notice of how Nintendo had managed to be so successful over two decades and replicated that success with a similar offering. However, instead, Sony offered its device at a premium pricing (due to its hardware), delivered awkward marketing, and built its platform around the core gamer without much fluff to fill in the cracks.
Despite this, Sony still managed to sell over sixty million PSPs — something a competitor of Nintendo’s was never able to do in this market. Of course, that sixty million looks feeble next to Nintendo’s 120+ million, but it’s still an accomplishment none-the-less. To be honest, 2006 to 2007 is when the comparisons between Nintendo and Sony truly becomes interesting.
As most of you know, 2006 and 2007 was basically the first year of the Nintendo Wii’s and PlayStation 3’s lifespan. During this time, we watched Nintendo release its product to perfect marketing, perfect pricing (compared to competitors) and a selection of games that included something for everyone. Due to this, Nintendo completely destroyed both Microsoft and Sony in market share and continue to do so five years later. Sony, on the other hand, released the PlayStation 3 at a big time premium price point, unnecessary marketing decisions, and with a set of core games targeted once more at the core gamer.
To be frank, it was the Nintendo DS Vs. PlayStation Portable all over again. Nintendo and Sony had made similar decisions (Sony mainly due to its arrogant success with the PlayStation and PlayStation 2) and despite it surprising many, the end result has been almost identical. Sony’s PlayStation 3 is well on its way to delivering over sixty million units, but the company is stuck behind Nintendo watching it push the Wii closer and soon-to-be over the 100 million mark.
It’s now 2011 and Nintendo has fully announced its next hand held, the Nintendo 3DS. Gamers know its going to include a library of remakes (not surprising) and offer glasses-free 3D gaming on the go (surprising). Because of this upgrade in technology, it’s obviously going to force Nintendo to do something it has never had to do before and that is release its product at a pricing point that isn’t 100% consumer friendly. It’s very likely that the 3DS will release to a $249.99 price tag and Nintendo will have to hope that its previous fan base will eat it up like its $149.99 instead. This is, of course, without taking into account if 3D gaming is good for younger children as well — which is a huge demographic for Nintendo’s hand held.
So, this is it, 2011 is the year of opportunity for Sony to do something to Nintendo that nobody has ever done before — take over the hand held market and finally release a product to critical acclaim for the first time in nearly a decade. Sadly, it’s starting to look like Sony is not only going to let this opportunity slip away from them, but that the company is going to allow it to happen because of its own greed again as well.
Thus far, despite developers leaking tidbits of information about the PSP2, Sony has yet to fully announce the device and to even give a glimpse of what gamers can expect. Most figure it’s going to include a beautiful screen, back-end trackpad, dual-analogs and possibly rival the PlayStation 3 when it comes to visual and processing ability. In other words, it’s going to cost gamers a ridiculous sum of money.
If we’re being honest, Sony is going to release the PSP2 without a form of media either (despite recent rumors that physical media will be present — unless mini-Blu-ray discs are being implemented) and instead force people to buy their content digitally as well. Something that the consumer would much rather not do when it comes to hand held gaming because you can’t sell your product back to GameStop when you’re done with it or to a different second-hand retailer. Furthermore, because of everything that is rumored to be included into this bad boy, you’re probably going to see Sony introduce its device at an entry point of around $299.99 — once more, more expensive than its competitor.
And this is Sony’s downfall once more. Instead of bringing a core hand held to the market with an above average processor and GPU while also delivering casual and entertaining games (Nintendo’s recipe for success, forever), Sony is going to try and take over the market with brute force and power. It’s pointless and Sony should take a step back and realize what is going on. This didn’t work with the PlayStation 3 as intended, the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Portable Go didn’t pan out, and now Sony is setting up the PlayStation Portable 2 to walk into the same world of fire without any hope of gaining market share on its lone competition.
It truly begs the question — Will Sony ever learn?