The PSP is terminal. Pay your respects while you can.
With around 19 retail releases so far this year, has Sony’s handheld lost its tenuous grip on the market?
[Note: I've only used this picture as it makes me laugh. It has no bearing on the words that follow.]
A quick check on the most airtight and in-depth research tool known to man (ahem… Wikipedia) shows us that the PSP has had 16 full-price (i.e. not Minis) releases in 2010. Add in the missing Everybody’s Tennis, 2010 FIFA World Cup and Invizimals and that figure is brought up to 19. We think there are more releases, but we can’t remember them right now.
Regardless, this is a very small number of full-price releases for the handheld. 2009 saw – again, according to the bastion of accuracy that is Wiki – around 84 games of the non-budget variety brought to PSP. 2010 has seen a reduction of releases around the 77 per cent mark. That’s massive, and it’s massive all in the wrong direction. The DS may be slowing down, sales-wise, but it’s had far, far more big releases for it this year than Sony’s competing machine.
What does this mean, then? Is it just a slow year for the machine? Probably not. Sales are down, software sales have been down for years (ah, piracy) and the public’s (and the press’s) interest just isn’t with the console anymore. A year like this has been inevitable for a while now. Has the gap been filled by Minis releases? Again, probably not. They’re still not cheap enough or popular enough to really be a force on the PSP, and the plethora of tripe released under the banner just doesn’t fill me with any confidence about the viability of the platform. It does, of course, need to emulate the iTunes model a bit more. 59p games are where it’s at.
I’m painting a doom-and-gloom picture, but that’s because this is where we stand. Peace Walker was one of the best releases of the year – on any gaming device – but it’s not enough. If anything it’s part of the final flourish – the last hurrah – before we consign our PSPs to the Console Graveyard (“cupboard”). I’ll be sad to see it go, but looking at it from an objective viewpoint I’m finding it hard to see any other outcomes here. If PSP makes a comeback in 2011, it’ll be bigger (and better) than Jesus.
These thoughts came about in the wake of comments from Bob McKenzie, senior VP of merchandising for GameStop, who was speaking to Eurogamer:
“I think Sony did a great job two years ago in terms of coming out with a pretty good line-up of PSP offerings and I didn’t see that breadth of titles this year… And it’s still pretty meaningful to consumers.”
It’s an obvious thing for a marketing manager to complain about, that much is true, and arguments put forth by gamers definitely have a point – it’s not like the PSP received much support or shelf space from the biggest videogame retailer in the US. But GameStop have no control over what games are released on PSP, and the fact so few have come out this year does point to something of a slow, lingering death for the handheld.
I’m a big fan of the machine – I still play it regularly and this year has seen at least three fantastic games come out (Ghost Of Sparta, Peace Walker and Valkyria Chronicles 2). But to go from around 84 releases in 2009 to around 19 this year… well it doesn’t make us hopeful for the future. Hopefully the heavily-rumoured PSP2 will be revealed at some point in the near future, so we have something to look forward to while we watch our once-beloved original incarnation slowly bleed out on the carpet. It’s a sad day when the realisation sets in, but we’ve come to accept it: the PSP is terminal.