Was the PlayStation Portable a Failure or Merely Ahead of its Time?
When Sony released the PlayStation Portable in October 2005, gamers had high expectations for the handheld console. Unfortunately for the Japanese conglomerate corporation, Nintendo brought out the DS in March of the same year. Remote gaming was at the forefront of both developers’ strategies during the mid-2000s, but there could only really be one winner. In hindsight, while the PSP was a short-term success, it wasn’t as forward-thinking as their competitor’s dual-screen system. So, was timing the primary factor behind the Sony console’s downfall?
Difficulty Competing with Nintendo
At the time of its release, Guinness World Records states that the PSP was the most powerful handheld device ever created. To Sony’s credit, the portable console generated 80.82 million sales, making it the tenth highest-sold gaming system of all time. By comparison, the Nintendo DS amassed 154.90 million sales, placing it second in the all-time list behind the PlayStation 2. In releasing a portable console, the Japanese company entered into a market that their competitors had already mastered. After all, Nintendo’s Game Boy achieved 118.69 million sales following its release in April 1989.
Concerning graphics, the PSP was levels above the DS, but that wasn’t a make-or-break factor in the console’s success. As Venture Beat highlights, the Sony creation didn’t bring anything new to the portable market. While it featured improved hardware and software, the single-screen design wasn’t going to revolutionise handheld gaming. Not only that, but the PSP also had a somewhat limited library of games, meaning that new content was often few and far between.
It was always going to be tricky for Sony to come out on top against Nintendo, but it’s worth considering whether the PSP merely came out too early. As touched on above, the system was ahead of its time from a graphical standpoint, while it also allowed gamers to watch movies via Universal Media Disc films. However, even if the PSP came out in the late-2010s, it would have had to compete with the transformative Nintendo Switch.
Sony Tried Something Different with the PS Vita
Despite being unable to leapfrog Nintendo in the portable console market, Sony persisted with the PSP during the late-2000s and early-2010s. After the PSP-1000 hit the shelves in 2005, the PSP-2000, PSP-3000, PSP Go, and PSP Street followed. While each of these were somewhat different, the Japanese company opted to discontinue the range in 2014 and turn their attentions to the PlayStation Vita.
Following its European release in 2012, the PS Vita sought to build on the foundations laid by the PSP. With their latest handheld console, Sony sought to right the wrongs of their previous effort to conquer the portable market. In doing so, they integrated a multi-touch function into the creation’s five-inch screen. Furthermore, the Vita also featured a quadcore processor which sought to replicate console-like performance.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/RIaJHh60hQY” title=”YouTube video player” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
However, Sony also sought to incentivise Vita ownership by rewarding players with free bonus games. With a PlayStation Plus subscription, gamers could get their hands on a whole host of giveaway titles, including Desert Ashes, No Heroes Allowed: No Puzzles Either, Run Sackboy! Run!, and many more. Aside from that, several old PSP games were also available to download via the PlayStation Store.
With the PS Vita, Sony took inspiration from different entertainment markets to attract new gamers and master the portable sector. As well as turning to the DS’ much-loved touchscreen, the Japanese company also incorporated the online casino industry’s bonus-driven strategy to maximise participation. While the Vita offered players free games through PS Plus, one of the best available casino promotions are free spins. Upon signing up to 10bet Casino, for example, new users receive 50 free spins to use across selected titles, such as Book of Dead and Starburst. This promotion type is also available to existing players who deposit a specified weekly amount. Although different, it’s evident that PlayStation attempted to integrate free offerings into their operations in an effort to replicate the online casino sector’s incentivised success.
Timing Was the PSP’s Downfall
Purely from a gaming standpoint, the PSP was ahead of the curve. However, gamers in the mid-2000s weren’t seeking high-end graphics or film-playing devices. Instead, gaming audiences wanted something different, and that’s what Nintendo provided with the DS. Because of that, had the PSP hit the market now, it may have stood a better chance of surpassing Nintendo in the portable market.
Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.