The Truth About The PSP
As usual, the end of the year comes around, and journalists start writing editorials which gamers misconstrue as news. This results in opinion being stated as fact far more often than at any other time during the year. Therefore, when you read all the doom and gloom surrounding the PSP, it's tough to take it seriously.
Thus far, all we've really seen is a whole lot of op-ed pieces - like that Yahoo one - getting a whole lot of attention. What follows is the inevitable N4G or Digg pick-up, where it makes the rounds amongst mainstream gamers and fanboys who know as much about this industry as I know about gardening. Before you know it, it's "death to the PSP." Now, we will be the first to acknowledge the lack of software in the last half of 2008, despite the excellence of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII and God of War: Chains of Olympus earlier in the year. We've also heard plenty regarding the possible screen flaw in the redesigned PSP-3000, and there's no denying that this revamp didn't generate the same kind of sales spike as 2007's structural overhaul. And of course, the Nintendo DS has a very large lead and always has from the start of this new handheld generation.
But in case everyone has forgotten actual facts taken from 2008, the PSP had its best year ever in terms of overall sales...and that was before we even hit December. More than a few times throughout the year, Sony's unit outsold Nintendo's on a monthly sales basis. For the first half of 2008, the PSP was the best-selling game console in Japan, and yes, that includes the DS and Wii. Every time we examined the numbers during the year (and here's another example), we noticed the PSP closing the gap on the DS and in the end, 2008 was yet another growth year for Sony's sleek portable unit. Granted, it probably hasn't grown as quickly as Sony would've hoped, and it definitely needs more software help, but the PSP is far from dead. It's far from being discontinued. Sony has already said they will be focusing firmly on delivering more PSP software for owners, and there is the very real possibility of a PSP-4000 upgrade in 2009.
These are the facts of the case. Merely numbers. No opinion or interpretation or anything else. The PSP is most certainly behind the DS, it most certainly needs more software, and it most certainly isn't performing as well as Sony initially hoped. But it had its best year ever in 2008, it's catching on in all three major territories, the PSP/DS gap closed significantly over the past year, and Sony has shown no sign whatsoever of saying "goodbye" to the PSP. Take it or leave it, you savvy fact-finding consumer, you.
12/29/2008 Ben Dutka