What do people do with the PSP?

They continue to sell a very large number of these things, but there are never any games that sell anywhere near what you’d expect from what seems to be a successful system.

I am truly baffled by this phenomenon. Never has a video game system sold so well while never landing games in the top ten regularly. So the question remains, what in the world do people do with their PSP?

Are people using it to watch movies? – Certainly not legitimately purchased ones. Sales of those stink.

Are people using it to listen to music? – Maybe… it would certainly be a good explanation since you’d never really see the purchases involved in doing so (if they even happen in the first place).

Are people using it to play games? – Some must be doing that, but what they’re buying is mostly unknown.

Are people using it to play “homebrew” and emulation? – This seems like the most logical explanation, but if they are that means people are way more tech savvy than we think they are. They’ve got to be messing with firmware, downloading the emulators, the ROMs, setting it all up and then finally using it to play games, old ones.

Even if the users are split amont all of the above, the sheer number of units sold seems to indicate a userbase large enough to create some hit game titles. They just never appear. So we have to conclude that a large segment of the ownership doesn’t spend any money on software for the system, ever.

Folks may not remember it now, but Hideo Kojima warned about this when creating the first Metal Gear products for PSP. He said Sony themselves didn’t really know what the device is, and that it didn’t seem to be focused on games. I made that same argument before it shipped, noting that a device that seems so broadly positioned isn’t going to be a good place for game developers. Sony marginalized games on the device to pump up all the other features. People disagreed with that, very forcefully, and yet here we are today looking at a PSP market that defines games as a marginalized market for that machine.

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One Response to What do people do with the PSP?

  1. Moggraider says:

    This is a good point, and I’m surprised Sony never moved to address this well. The movie situation could’ve been ameliorated by offering movies that could be downloaded to a memory stick for a reasonable price. Instead, I think Sony only ever offered a crappy retail pack of four movies that could be swapped on and off a memory stick for use with the PSP. One of the movies was Hitch, and the other three weren’t much better.

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