According to the NPD data for 2006, Sony has sold around 6.7 million PSPs in the U.S. since the launch but then no single game sold more than 600,000 copies in the last year. I have a hard time believing that kind of data, but there it is. Moreover, the games that are selling well are all from 2005.
I can't believe that enough people know about the homebrew/emulation possibilities for that to be the answer.
I fear that what's really happening is that people are thinking they want one, buying it, picking up one new game and a handful of cheap old games, and then packing the whole thing away and forgetting about it. That would explain the continued hardware sales, fueled mostly by the PlayStation brand and a few higher profile games, but slack software sales.
I certainly understand how that happens -- my own PSP sat idle for months during 2006. Things turned around for me -- my PSP has gotten heavy use for the past three months, almost exclusively on new games -- but one wonders if it isn't too little, too late for the public.
The sales data is kind of rattling. I didn't realize there was a large discrepency between units and software, let alone older software. If you've noticed in some of the newer PSP commercials, Sony mostly focuses on the picture and music playback functions, and not the games. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it, but Sony has taken their eyes of the PSP to help birth the PS3, which has hurt them a bit.
I obviously don't own a PSP, but if I were to pick one up, the only games I would consider buying are LocoRoco and Lumines. Nothing else is fresh or original, but rather ports of overdone franchises from PS2.
I can really understand why the DS sells much better than the PSP. It's cliche but true to say that gameplay, not graphics, are what matter most.
Sony has had that focus on the other functionality of the PSP from the beginning. They've generally used two types of commercials. One focuses on specific PSP games (such as all the squiggle art commercials like the lint balls and squirrels) and the other covers all the functionality with gaming being a brief blip at best (such as the commercial where the PSP was passed around from person to person).
The native software being written for it is still pretty weak. Just ports of games I didn't like to begin with.
Not fond of GTA, and i've been a MGS UnFan since the first one (i couldn't get over how badly it controlled. plus i tend to not like militaristic themes in videogames)
I have however been playing a lot of xenogears though. Ever since the new custom firmware, with the almost 100% playstation 1 emulation and the ability to re-encode your own discs to this format, my psp has become one of my favorite devices again.
I even managed to get my save games off my ps1 memory card and onto the psp. I can finally finish playing xenogears that I started playing almost 3 years ago ( i find ps1 rpg's text give me a migraine when playing on a projector, which is the only display device i have atm)
i didn't mean to say it was one of my favorite devices again.
i've just stopped actively disliking it, and it actually is useful enough to charge more than once every few weeks.
but then, my ds hasn't been receiving much love either =P i just got a 360 and got hooked on geometry wars.
I don't own one, so some other poor schmuck must be not using mine.
Yesterday while I was waiting for my dentist appointment, a woman sitting next to me started asking about my Treo. She was a typical late 30's american mother of 2, who was afraid of digital gadgets that become "absolete" (her pronounciation). She said that she bought her son (16 yrs old) a PSP, and that he brings it with him everywhere. He plays Madden and GTA on it. She said she felt comfortable buying it because she did "a lot of research", and found that it "plays games, watches movies, and does the internet".
Apparently, she felt good about buying the PSP because of the supposedly value of the device beyond just gaming. Interesting non-gamer viewpoint, no?
MikeyP: That is interesting. Just the other day I put some mp4 files, ripped from CD in iTunes, on my PSP and they "just worked". I'm sure the iTunes Music Store tracks won't work (although I admit I haven't tried), but it was nice to just drag and drop some music on the PSP and have it work. Even has a reasonable, if limited, visualizer mode like what I enjoyed on the Atari Jaguar CD.
As I've voiced before, when the PlayStation Network becomes available on the PSP, I will probably be a much more interested PSP owner than I am now. Downloading trailers, demos, and PSOne games appeals to me. Once that happens -- and if Sony gets decent publicity out there about it -- then those potentially-PSP-buying moms will have all the more reason to get the system for their kids.
The video podcast functionality of the thing is awesome too. And once you do that, you can plug it into your ps3 and it'll display the videos on there as well. I've never gone a week without using my psp (for games) anyway.
A Japanese survey from last year shows a similar trend: 27% of PSP owners have just one game compared to only 16% of DS owners. Almost 1/4 of DS owners have more than 6 games compared to 1 of 10 PSP owners.
I was tempted to suggest that the difference in game buying is that the average DS owner might be younger (and playing more games) than the average PSP owner. Unfortunately, that's hard to argue since the average player is 33 and the average owner is 40 years old.
Still, I think the demographics between the two types is likely different, but I can't find hard evidence of it.
It's interesting, too, to note this 1up survey from 2005 that found 57% of readers were likely to buy a PSP in 2005.
I got my DS in October as a gift from my wife. I had some PSP envy after playing my brother's, but all in all, I like the DS for reasons dealing mostly with the games.
It's very simple really, something anyone can verify by visiting the local GameStop. That is, people are getting the PSP as a gift (or, less often, buying it themselves), play around with it for a bit, then return it to the store and get a Nintendo DS Lite.
GameStop stores are up to their necks in used PSPs, and the price for one just dropped to $160. Meanwhile DS Lites sell almost as soon as they go on the shelves, and even the old Nintendo DS machines are in short supply.
It's not just gameplay that's at issue, either. PSP games and content are notoriously expensive, load times are long, and the machine itself is notoriously fragile (meaning that people won't usually buy one for their kids). Even though it has some nice features, the negative buzz surrounding it is so strong now that I doubt anything will ultimately save the platform.
I had a great post here but blogger ate it.
Anyway, the jist was:
1. The Home Console Experience in a Handhold is a fundamentally flawed idea. It ignores that consoles and handhelds have different pros and cons.
2. People don't want convergence devices they want devices where they can do stuff they haven't before.
I got PSP as a gift (as have many I suspect) and use it pretty regularly. For me it's an all purpose device as I travel a fair bit, so I rip both music and films to it, play games, and carry pictures of family and friends. The only thing I don't use much is the online capabilities.
I think it's a great device but one that is only truly useful to a smaller segment than a gameboy or DS. I have two kids and wouldn't buy them a PSP (they have gameboys and we might evolve to DS soon). Given its size/implied delicacy its adults only (or teenagers) in many cases I suspect, particularly those who want to use all functions (otherwise you'd just use an I-pod for music).
I'm not sure Sony got the strategy right (much as I think its an amazing tech success) and I'm not sure they're getting the PS3 strategy right either - but I guess time will tell on all of these points, no?