Recently the head of Sony Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida called out third parties for their “disappointing” support of the PSP. Calling their lackadaisical attitude a “lost opportunity,” he said, “They should look at what the PSP can do for their titles and the potential for the business that their IP has.”
At the time, it felt like a strange move: calling out business partners new and old is a rare stance for an executive to take. It almost forced everyone to ask, “Just how disappointing is PSP third-party support, anyway?”
We did ask, and to find the answer we dug through the handheld’s entire release calendar, to see if third-party neglect is really setting in as the PSP approaches four years old. We also tried to answer a few more questions: How has the PSP been doing with exclusive content? If indeed third-party support has become disappointing, what reasons could there be for that? And what of Sony? Is it leading by example, or is first-party support also limping?
Note: we tried to be generous with our definition of exclusive, but the PSP library is notorious for having slightly different or pared down versions of existing console games that made drawing the line at what constituted a different product difficult. With timed exclusives, it didn’t matter if the game was pulled out for a console release fairly quickly (Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories) or if it took years (Twisted Metal: Head On).
Total releases up to 2007 based on U.S. NPD data. Releases for 2008 corroborated from a variety of sources including retailer lists. Future release totals for the remainder of 2008 based on estimated release dates that are subject to change
A Note on Hardware
Before jumping into software, it’s important to make some quick notes on the growth of the installed base of the platform. While publicly-released NPD statistics on the PSP are spotty in the early goings of the system’s life, it is known that from launch until the end of 2006 6.65 million PSPs were sold in the US. In 2007, 3.82 million units were sold, which can be taken to indicate likely year-on-year sales growth for the platform. About 1.8 million PSPs have been sold in the US in 2008, as of the end of August. Keep in mind that hardware sales increase greatly during the holiday season, and that this compares favorably to the 1.6 million PSPs that Sony sold in the same period in 2007.
The numbers here show PSP hardware sales are growing at a steady clip every year, which is the proper behavior for a healthy platform.