It's no secret that the Nintendo DS has lit a fire under the handled gaming market. Its ability to transcend cultures and continents has propelled the DS to the top of the sales charts in both software and hardware. The PSP has not been so fortunate. Although hardware sales have been constant, the lack of compelling software has prompted gamers to rethink their handheld allegiances. Electronic Arts (EA), the world's largest software publisher, is now sounding off on Sony's strategy concerning the PSP.
The PSP launched into the handheld space with a sleek and sexy portable that oozed potential. The graphical capabilities of the PSP are far beyond those of the DS, yet gamers have resoundingly preferred the quick and quirky games that have been specifically designed for the DS. David Gardner, EA's Executive Vice President, seems to agree. "There's no doubt that EA has historically bet more on PSP. I think we were excited by the technology, but the consumers have proven that actually what they want is fun. We must never forget that what we need to focus on what is fun, and so EA is putting more effort behind DS games – and creative ones that really take advantage of the hardware," Gardner explained.
Although Gardner's comments suggest a possible shift in development assets from the PSP to the DS, all hope is not lost for the PSP. Many experts seem to think that a drastic price cut could salvage the PSP and stimulate sales across the board. In fact, Gardner reiterates this with the following statement: "I don't think Sony can afford to sit back," he said. "I think they still have things they can do with the price and performance of the machine – things that they need to address."
Is a price cut for the PSP on the way? Chris Morris of CNNMoney.com seems to think so. He reports today that a PSP price cut is imminent, dropping from $199 to as low as $149. P.J. McNealy of American Technology Research agrees with Morris: "There is a price cut coming in the second half of the year," said McNealy. "[The PSP] has lost momentum. Nintendo has had a great run since it launched the DS Lite and Sony needs to regain some ground."
It seems that the PSP could be headed for a price cut by the end of the year, just in time for the holiday shopping frenzy. Will it be enough to give the PSP some momentum in the handheld race? Time will tell, but I'm sure Sony will put up a massive fight to gain back some handheld ground.
-Patrick Welch (FoeHammer)