PSPgo – Complete Failure?

I know that the Japanese market is not the end-all-be-all barometer when it comes to videogame sales data, however the continued abysmal numbers for the PSPgo are worth noting. The Sixth Axis just posted some data for July.

Across the month the Wii beat the PS3 (89,899 vs. 77,315), the DSs beat the PSPs (202,082 vs. 108,695) and the PS2 continued to beat the PSPgo (6,134 vs. 4,056). Overall shares of the month’s hardware unit sales are little changed from June with Nintendo stealing a percentage point from both Sony and Microsoft. Out of the 509,108 consoles sold Nintendo accounted for 57% (291,981), Sony 38% (192,144) and Microsoft 5% (24,983).

I don’t think anyone is surprised with the continued success of the DS over the PSP; same for the Wii over the PS3. Was anyone really expecting the PSPgo to be a complete failure? I don’t think this is just a case of consumers wanting physical media (UMDs) over digital downloads. So what is wrong with the PSPgo?

  • Overly expensive hardware: I am not sure about in Japan, but $222 (discounted from $249 on Amazon) is still $100 too much.
  • Inadequate digital library: The selection of game available for digital downloads is vastly inferior to physical UMD products. In other words, all UMD products are not available on the PlayStation Store.
  • Digital library price relief: In some cases the UMD counterpart to a digital download actually cost less. Why? There are no traditional distribution costs, no physical manufacturing costs for the product (case, UMD, manual). Ridiculous.
  • No upgrade path: Sony has decided not to provide a UMD to digital format trade-in program or otherwise provide some mechanism to convert UMDs to digital format for the PSPgo.

I could probably go on, but I think Sony screwed the pooch with the PSPgo. I am guessing that Sony will try to continue to play up the PSPgo, but until they come out for the next PSP (PSP2, PSP Phone, whatever), Sony is probably better off offering incremental improvements with a PSP-4000 at an enticing price in over to keep in the handheld game.

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2 thoughts on “PSPgo – Complete Failure?”

  1. There were rumblings that Sony would announce a PSP2 at E3 but of course that didn’t happen. Rumors of them using the same chipsets used in smart phones. OK, if they did that, they’re not going to have any performance advantage over smart phones, which are getting faster every year while the PSP2 would be static for a number of years.

    On digital distribution, nobody is discounting digital media to reflect the lack of costs, with maybe the possible exception of Amazon Kindle books that Amazon is forcing lower prices on publishers. But the content owners won’t reduce their price unless the market forces them to. The official reason is that they can’t undercut their physical media, on which they depend for the bulk of their revenues.

    But I have a feeling that if they can condition people to pay the same prices for digital media as physical media, they will simply keep the prices up while dramatically reducing their costs. I can’t really blame them but OTOH, keeping prices high just encourages piracy and they miss out on a chance to expand their market, increase volumes.

    I heard DS sales have plummeted year over year in the last quarter. So they need the 3DS, not just as something that adds to sales of DS, but now, more like replacement or keeping the sales at the same level.

    After that, there may not be room for any other dedicated mobile gaming device, as smart phones come in and take up a lot of the market. Nintendo will always be able to sell their first-party titles, so they don’t have to worry as much about specs, pricing or business model.

    Sony OTOH may be chasing something which is already gone for them.

  2. Hard to say if the portable ship has sailed for Sony. If Sony could somehow capitalize on the fact that they have portable games unlike anything – i.e. God of War – maybe they could do something with the next PSP, whatever it happens to be.

    I agree with you on the prices of digital media – why lower the prices if consumers do not care? Educated gamers certainly notice and care, but maybe for the casual fan, it is not that big a deal. Then again, the casual fan is now use to pay $.99-3.99 for games, so they are going to pass on a $39.99 version of Madden.

    I am finding it harder and harder to pay over $29.99 for any PSP game. For the first time in a long time I am actually getting my money’s worth from my PSP, but let’s be honest, the prices of PSP games suck.

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