I did some browsing at EB Games (online) and put together some numbers for new games (not used games, which can fluctuate with inventory). The store currently lists more $10-$20 games for the PSP (30) than it does for the Nintendo DS (26). The average price for a new game is $32 for the PSP and $28 for the Nintendo DS, and the median game costs $30 for both systems. (Note: That's just games available; sales volume obviously isn't something I have access to.) Each system has a nearly equal number of games.
The PSP isn't so far behind the DS that it's lost the war, but Sony needs to do more than just stay close. If the PSP were priced at $150, my gut tells me it'd sell a lot more strongly. You've got a ton of best-selling software at the $20 level now, including Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, and several more interesting games at the $30 level. With the software side of the business under control, I think, and a system price adjustment would help.
Addendum: The other thing about PSP game pricing is that it appears to be more flexible than Nintendo DS game pricing. There are PSP games launching at prices from $50 down to $20, which makes it possible for a game to portray itself as anything from a big-name release down to a chintzy piece of shovelware. Moreover, this gives games room to drop in price, so a publisher can squeeze top dollar out of the rich and then appeal to the masses later with a budget price. Nintendo's model, especially for its big-name games, has seemed much more rigid. The price for New Super Mario Bros. will probably still be $35 two years after its release, whereas the price of Liberty City Stories on the PSP has dropped from $50 to $20 in just over a year.
Sony seems to hope PS3/PSP connectivity will help more than it did when Nintendo tried it. Then again, Sony seems to have given at least basic consideration to it, which Nintendo didn't.
But I don't know that people downloading games on their $600 console is going to really boost PSP sales in the near future. Those buying PS3s for the next few months likely already have PSPs.
Baines: Good points. As a future PS3 owner, I intend to avail myself of the PS3/PSP connectivity, which (as you say) has been given some reasonable forethought (according to reports).
Of course, the people buying PSPs to go with PS3s isn't so important as getting PSP-and-PS3 owners to buy more software, as downloads or packages bought in a store. Of course, if MGS4 turns out to be a system seller and we see significant integration of the PSP in that game, then you could see a small bump in PS3 and PSP sales.
I wonder if Sony would consider bundling the PSP and PS3. That would certainly be a first - and handheld and a TV-based console in one package.
I will be the first to condemn the PSP/PS3 connection.
I tried the connectivity with the GBA and Gamecube with several games.
While one was done well (Pacman Vs.) and made sense with that game, I felt that other attempts (Zelda, Final Fantasy: CC & Nascar04) were really a waste.
Each of the latter pulled you away from the game to look at something that could have been shown on the big screen through a pause feature.
If the PSP/PS3 works in this way, count me out. It is merely a novelty.
This is where the DS has been a success for me. Both screens integrate well on most, if not all of the games that I have played on the system.
I have tried to get as much fun out of the PSP as I have out of the DS, but it is just not happening. Hot Shots Golf, Ridge Racer, and Metal Gear Acid aside, I have not had much to cheer about on the PSP. (I hold out hope for Pirates!)
But, even with that title my PSP library includes fewer good titles than the one for my DS.
If I had my druthers, my PSP would allow me to play my PS3 games while I am away from my TV. I know it is not meant to be that way, but that is real connectivity to me.
Why are you a future PS3 owner?
I'd like to think that, even if I weren't terribly biased against Sony hardware by a lifetime of cheaply made devices that fall apart or go completely obsolete in short order, while costing more than equivalent devices, I would still be able to look out at the games that are currently available and the ones on the horizon and ask myself what exactly it is that other people are seeing that I'm not.
Is MGS4 really that good? Has Square done something radically wonderful in any Final Fantasy game on a Sony platform that justifies buying a new one sight unseen?
I really don't get it.
Jeremy: Simple. I would like to own all consoles, eventually. There are two consoles that offer an obvious upgrade path for me: the Wii and the PlayStation 3. The Wii has nothing that I really want to have right now, short of the virtual console, and that's not big enough of a draw to get me on board. The PlayStation 3, on the other hand, runs much (but not all...post later today, I hope about that) of my PSOne and PlayStation 2 software and has games that I definitely have an itch for, like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Grand Theft Auto 4. (Yes, GTA4 will be on the Xbox 360. That's not a consideration for me.) Until I hear otherwise, I'm going to guess that Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Ace Combat, and the other series that I've enjoyed will appear on the PS3. The PS3 is also the only system that will work with my PSP.
As for shoddy hardware, I know other people have had trouble (ask cgm, my brother) but I have had a nearly-flawless experience with my original 1996-era PSOne (which was just fine up until early 2000 when I sold it) and my launch-day PS2 (which is still going strong, even after the fliptop mod and the appearance of children in my household). I've taken care of my hardware as best I can and haven't had any trouble, so I'm willing to give Sony a chance.