updated 03:30 pm EDT, Thu May 13, 2010
PSP sequel seen necessary to save Sony gaming
Sony may be planning a frequently requested update to the PSP, according to some new clues revealed today. One publisher for the handheld is believed by MCV to be waiting on an announcement from Sony, possibly for hardware, before it can talk about new games; two more important developers are significantly increasing their marketing money for the fall this year. Such steps are sometimes precursors to a new console as Sony and others often use in-development titles as key selling points for new systems.
The news is timed just before E3 in mid-June and could prefigure a redesigned model at the gaming event, where new hardware is expected from at least Nintendo.
What would come to replace or complement the PSP isn't clear; talk has existed of PSP phones and e-reader hybrids, but it may also simply involve a more advanced PSP sequel with faster graphics and other updates to keep up with not just the Nintendo 3DS but also the iPhone and iPod touch. The console has lagged in 3D performance and uses older technology like 802.11b Wi-Fi for access, and until the PSP Go had no storage of its own.
The upgrade could be virtually necessary as Sony today reported a rapid falloff in PSP sales for its latest fiscal year. For the 12 months ended in March, Sony sold just 9.9 million of the game consoles where it had sold 14.1 million the year earlier. Nintendo's DS line is still in the clear majority, but the widely accepted failure of the PSP Go and the rapidly aging nature of the PSP's hardware have played a part in Sony's performance.
Apple may in some cases be Sony's greatest threat at present. Between 2008 and 2009, the iPhone and iPod touch cut PSP game revenues in half even though many iPhone games cost just a fraction of their PSP counterparts. The PSP Go was a direct answer to the iPod touch, but the lack of advanced Internet features, a compelling app platform, a bulkier design and other factors have contributed to Apple gaining an edge.
Sony's current salvation is its full-size PS3 console, which finally became profitable this year and is selling briskly thanks to the slim model and its according price drop.