Ubisoft: The PSP Is "Directionless"
While the PSP has managed to stage a major comeback and vault into the top position in Japan on a monthly sales basis recently, there are still a few doubters out there. One of them is Ubisoft UK managing director Rob Cooper.
In a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Cooper said he believes the handheld still "lacks direction, with Sony unsure of how to market a machine he sees as overpriced and too technical for the mainstream consumer." Now, we all know about the PSP overhaul - PSP Slim/PSP-2000 - and the fact that two unbelievably great games have already dropped in 2008 (God of War: Chains of Olympus and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII), but according to Cooper, Sony has yet to solidify its plans for the PSP.
"I think that Sony is disappointed with sales and it's unsure as to which way to take it," said Cooper. "Sony needs to show us a bit more about what its plans are to convince the publisher to invest lots more money into it. Especially when you've got the DS selling at such a tremendous pace."
We have heard nothing but good news on the PSP front lately, including the distinct possibility that many publishers who had initially abandoned the portable are now returning thanks to better sales. But we can't forget about the casual gaming market - big publishers like Ubisoft never do - and perhaps that's the main reason for Cooper's stand on the issue. He continues-
"I suppose it's almost too technical for the casual person, those that are buying the DS at the moment, who want a few buttons and not a lot more. It's so simple what [Nintendo] has done. That's where I think Sony has gone a little bit too complicated, they've over-specced it, the price is too high and they need to go back to the drawing board and start again."
Ubisoft currently has no PSP games scheduled for 2008, and while Cooper still believes the system has plenty of potential, he says Sony needs to move the system "out of no man's land." As he says, Sony just hasn't zeroed in on who the PSP consumer really is.
"It's direction, a real strategic decision by Sony as to what it wants to do with that product. It's a great shame that sales are at the level they are, because you've got a hardware system that is absolutely beautiful."
Well, we're still not agreeing on the whole idea of PSP sales being abysmal; if this were 2007, we'd understand the viewpoint, but ever since the hardware redesign and the arrival of some excellent software, this little handheld has experienced major sales growth. And we do have one question- what is the "direction" of the PS3? It seems that Cooper is putting a lot of emphasis on this from a publisher standpoint, so obviously, Sony has cemented a direction for their home console, but not the portable. This, we remain somewhat confused about, but hey, we kinda get the gist.
6/5/2008 Ben Dutka