Will Sony Ever Learn? A PSP2 Perspective

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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.

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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?

Readers Comments (27)

  1. pretty true stuff. Lately I think Sony has lost sense of how important it is to have your hardware be the least expensive of the consumer’s options.

  2. I don’t totally agree with this article. This time, history won’t repeat itself at all.

    For the first time, Sony will bring it’s new handheld gaming console–if rumors are correct–at the same fiscal year as Nintendo does. Nintendo did significantly upgraded it’s newest console by increasing the retail price. PSP’s user base already knew that this particular system is expensive and so the second one that comes out will do so. So i think Nintendo is the one that should be afraid if things on its market share will change. I mean now, Nintendo buyers will have to truly choose between PSP2 or 3DS, cause both of them will have high quality graphics with somewhat the same price (i don’t think, as the article mentioned, PSP2 will surpass the $300 price tag). As for the title line-up, i don’t think either Sony or Nintendo will disappoint us; we already know about Nintendo’s great launch title line-up, and we assume Sony has already great titles in the works.

    So, in conclusion, i think this time around the “fight” will be on equal terms and it will be determined on the details (e.g. marketing, popular franchises etc). For me, the crucial factor for the core gamers would be whether to choose between PSP2’s HD screen or 3DS’s 3D (without glasses) screen. Ultimately, time will tell…

  3. Two words, Playstation Phone, endgame.

    • TraumaticTighearnan January 13, 2011 @ 20:43

      PlayStation Phone is actually a huge let down.. It isn’t even as powerful as the PSP..
      It is just an Android Phone with access to the Android Market and the PsStore Minis and PSOne Classics 😛

      • Just b/c its an android phone doesn’t mean its not as powerful as the PSP. There are several android devices out there with 1 ghz processors (Nexus One, for example). The PSP only has 333 Mhz processor, that in the older systems is underclocked to 222 Mhz. A PSP phone could easily have twice the processing power of the PSP itself.

        • And as anyone who’s ever emulated console games on a PC will tell you raw horsepower doesn’t mean squat if it can’t make up for the lack of specialized hardware. It wasn’t until I got a PC more powerful than the PSP that I could play SNES titles comfortably on most emulators.

          It may not require as much emulation to play a PSP title on a PSP Phone as it would to play a PS2 title on the PC, but I rather suspect it would require enough to quickly squander any increase in raw horsepower the phone may have over the PSP.

          More powerful? Maybe. More effective for gaming? Maybe not.

  4. I think Sony are offering something different and more core-focused because they want to.

    Rather than just do the same as Nintendo and follow up their success using the market figures.

    I’m glad Sony have the balls to push power.

  5. I would have to disagree with this article. Sony has “won” the core market and still manages to sell millions of consoles and handhelds. That’s what they do, not gimmicks or crappy “casual” games. If Sony goes away from this now, they could lose their core audience.

    • The casual games are just as important as the full games. And Sony knows that. The average family gamer is more likely buy a game that the whole family can get into, and possibly leave if they have to, in the middle of. And since the average gamers age is now between 18 and 32, it’s more likely that those gamers are going to have a family.

  6. this article clearly shows how the Microsoft figures propaganda has infected & corrupted the minds of many gamers and specially journalists

  7. wow, youre article is good and all, but reading it is for me looking at gaming from a totaly difrent pespective,
    you know… i dont care how powerful, how cheep, or how well the console is selling, i aint buying shit unles it has some realy good games,
    and if it does, than im more than ready to give out some good money to enjoy them
    fuck marketing! at the end the winer is the one whos playing the best games

  8. I have never seen an article with so much blind speculation.

  9. We’ll see, we’ll see. The Sony guys sure are a bunch of arrogant dorks, but they have learned a rough lesson with the success of the Wii. However, as for the selling price for the PSP2, it doesn’t really matter if it is priced at $300, so long as it has a tremendous launch lineup. Bundle PSP2 with Monster Hunter Freedom 3 for example and you got a winner (in Japan at least).

  10. Great analyse, Sony have a big problem with communication, and the PSP also (nearly) died because of many security firmware updates. Sony must come back has the Sony we knew, not the sony follower, but innovating sony, they have the money and laboratories to find a new way to play.

  11. All pretty good points, but you know the 3ds is about $299 right?

  12. Perfect this from Nintendo, completely failed on Sony’s side.

    Think your article is a tad biased? Calling 60 million units a feeble install base almost completely discredits any guise of objectivity you were trying to create.

    To say that Nintendo provides games for Core and Casual audiences is laughable. With the exception of Metroid and Zelda there isn’t much success with non-casual franchises on any Nintendo platform. That last non-Nintendo based core franchise to see any real success was Golden Eye and that was a few generations ago.

    Yeah I get it, you like Nintendo and so much so you are blind to the fact that PSP has been doing quite well in spite of not copying everything Nintendo does.

    Next time you write an article can you at least act like you can be objective. This writing is just drenched in fanboyism and favoritism. I likely will not be back to read any more of your articles.

    Jesus any asshole can get a job at a blog now. You don’t need to demonstrate any expertise in writing and the industry. Just spout out some stupid bullshit and someone will listen.


    • Lol — What? I’ve logged so many hours into Valkyria Chronicles II for the PSP, it’s practically an addiction. In fact, I don’t even own a Nintendo DS and haven’t for well over a year now, but I’ve owned a PSP since Day 1…as well as every iteration of the device…

      I think you need a little reading comprehension. Nobody called 60 million units a feeble install base. I said comparatively to 120+ million, 60 million is a feeble number. That’s two completely different things.

      Finally, New Super Mario Bros… 25 million copies. Let me guess, that’s a casual game right? It’s not for the core market? Are you kidding me? In the 1980s and early 1990s it didn’t get more “core” than Mario…Furthermore we can throw in Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Professor Layton, 9/9/9, Kingdom Hearts and arguably Pokemon as all CORE games that CORE gamers play on a religious basis somewhere. Combined, those franchise have sold more units collectively than the entire PlayStation Portable install base for Sony.

      Get a clue, Douche.

    • TraumaticTighearnan January 14, 2011 @ 02:01

      Eh, dude, this is coming from a guy who doesn’t always agree with this websitesncontent ok?
      You are a moron. Honestly.
      You either can’t read an article in context, ornyou are so blinded by fan oyosm that you couldn’t stick anyone saying anything negative about a PlayStation device.
      Seriously man, grow up.

  13. TraumaticTighearnan January 13, 2011 @ 20:44

    3DS > PSP2
    I am definitely getting a launch 3DS.. After the money I wasted on a PSP, I don’t think I’ll be getting a PSP2 unless it shows a lot of promise 😛

  14. So, as a gaming website, you are asking Sony to make more casual games just to suit the mass market? Without ‘brute force’ we wouldn’t have beautiful games like Uncharted or LBP, and gaming quality would be a lot lower also. You would rather have less quality so they make more money, and you call yourself gamers?

    Huge respect to Sony for not taking your point of view, and really the easy way out..

    • You do realize that LittleBigPlanet is consider a casual title, right? I think you’re confusing shovelware with casual gaming. Casual gaming like Angry Birds, LittleBigPlanet, etc… can be productive and take actual talent to create. Just because it’s casual, does not mean it isn’t quality gaming.

  15. victorgodamnsullivan January 14, 2011 @ 01:06

    Damn that Psp2 photo you have up looks sleek.

  16. I say drop the PSP 2 and step down from the handheld market. In my opinion it’s a bleeding pool of resources that could be used to revitalize the PS3. but Sony is too greedy and wants to try both handhelds and consoles. I just feel that Sony is stretching itself a bit too thin.

  17. That PSP2 looks sweet. Honestly, I’m more excited for the PSP2 than the 3DS just because I think the PSP2 will have a library that better suits me (although the 3DS library is looking nice so far).

  18. sony is not doingh anything wrong. they are just different. lol if you think about it sony and nintendo are complete opposites sony=hardcore games,hardware TONS of features not many family friendly games nintendo= family friendly games, not so many hard core games, weak hardware.

    I have had a wii for few years and am personally dissapointed (except for homebrew). don’t like the games as much etc. I going to get a ps3 very soon but can already tell I will love it 3x more than wii.

    so it’s just your preference. Neither is doing anything wrong. or “needs to learn a lesson” in fact if anything I think sonys doing better and has much better games etc.

  19. I wonder if Sony will have the PSP2 locked down from the start or strugle with locking it down after release as it has with the PSP. I wonder this because many of the things Sony is, or at least has been, struggling to repress on the PSP are things that could have made the system much more popular in the long run.

    I’ve been an avid PSP user for years now. In point of fact I’m addicted to the little thing. I use it for an absolute minimum of 15 hours/week in fact. I also spend roughly 30-40 hours per year playing games on it. That’s PSP games, PSX games, and (other) emulated games. I spend nearly 95% of my time with my PSP reading books with it.

    Until the recent release of the Kindle the PSP was one of the most cost-effective book reading devices on the market. Given that it could also play movies and music, surf the web, and play games was purely an added bonus for me once I found the joys of homebrew, “custom” firmwares, and book viewers. Even now the PSP comes in at a lower price than the Kindle when purchased used/refurbished, and despite the better visibility in bright light is likely a much better choice for reading because it’s small enough to easily fit into a pocket and has a memory option that isn’t limited to just 4gb like the latest version of the Kindle.

    The PSP was marketed heavily as a multimedia entertainment center, and it is, but along the way Sony seemed to have forgotten that and started taking steps to eliminate many aspects of media from the system’s potential. It remains to be seen whether or not it will do the same with the PSP2. I for one hope they don’t, but I won’t be expecting to be able to use one the way I want to without fighting Sony for it given the precent of the PSP.

  20. This article proves how wrong you were…assumptions… silly author.

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