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The Sony PSP has been out for over two years, and has sold over 24 million units. Yet sentiment for it remains mixed: Gamers and developers appear to put up with it, but not clamor for it. And a recent rumor has it that one major retailer even threatened to stop selling it (if Sony didn't initiate a price cut, which is did this month). At best, it's been characterized as a mediocre success.
We asked David Cole of DFC Intelligence, Ed Barton of Screen Digest, and Mike Wolf of ABI Research:
What are your general thoughts about the Sony PSP? Do you rate it as a failure or success? Or do you have mixed or neutral feelings about it?
What do you think Sony and developers could do to improve the PSP platform, to generate more excitement for it among developers, gamers and the industry overall? Or do they need to?
What do you forecast will happen with the PSP platform throughout this year, especially in relation to the PS3 (the fact that Sony plans to interface the device more with the console)? And rumors of a price cut and second generation model?
David Cole, DFC Intelligence
General thoughts about the PSP: My feelings on the PSP are mixed: It has shown there is demand for a more high-end portable system. The portable market has room for two competing portable systems. We forecast that over the next five years dedicated portable systems will sell just as many units as the new console systems. However, the PSP could really use a new model.
This has been the secret to Nintendo's success. When GBA sales slowed, Nintendo introduced the GBA SP, which addressed many of the system's problems. Ditto introducing the DS Lite last year to improve on the DS. Much will depend on how much emphasis Sony plans to put on the system going forward. Do they really want to put in the effort to continue to build the base?
On generating more excitement for the PSP platform: The portable market has been a challenge for third party developers and publishers. The business model is very tight. Nevertheless, publishers are already enjoying some greater success on the PSP than they ever did on Nintendo portable platforms.
However, the market is showing that you must develop a game specifically for the portable platform and not just repurpose console [i.e. PS1] games. The challenge is this is likely to take a high-end budget, probably around $5 million. I think the real issue is developers need to make a full commitment [to portable]. An example of a great job rethinking a franchise for the PSP was the recent Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters.
Forecast for the PSP this year: Interfacing a portable device with a console system can be overrated. As for price cuts and a second generation model: I think a new form factor is needed more than a price cut.