I bet to some of you that seems like an incredibly stupid question to ask, doesn’t it? I mean, why would the company who released the PSPgo want to sabotage its success, right? That’s what I’ve been asking myself as well. As most of you know through our Sony Customer Loyalty editorial, I’m a proud owner of the PSPgo and I’ve done my part to support the unit by purchasing a decent amount of content for the device via the PlayStation Store. However, when the facts are laid down on the table and you see exactly how Sony has prevented the PSPgo from being a truly great piece of hardware, you may start to question the company and the handheld yourself.
One of the first things on most consumers’ minds upon the announcement of the PSPgo was whether or not their UMD collections would transfer over or not. While Sony was often mum on the entire ordeal, there was at one time hope for current PSP owners as Sony had released information that they were looking into the entire idea behind transferring UMD content from one console to the other. Unfortunately, this proved harder than it sounded and Sony eventually decided against any type of transfer service between the two. Ultimately, this killed a lot of sales for current owners who had been thinking about upgrading to the new download-only device. After all, there isn’t much better way to carry around all of your games than inside the handheld itself. UMDs are quite the space taker and it goes without saying that carrying four to five games around with you is nothing short of a hassle.
As a PSPgo owner, I can attest that downloading nine to ten titles and carrying them around in my device is a much smoother action than lugging around a media format of a different kind. Currently, I have Persona, LocoRoco 2, Patapon 2, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice, PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe, Monster Hunter Freedom: Unite, Super Stardust Portable, Beats, Rock Band Unplugged, Hot Shots Golf 2: Open Tee and Gran Turismo PSP all sitting comfortably in my PSPgo, ready to be played at a moment’s notice. It’s hard to beat that type of portability. Not to mention the added fact of having 1,000 songs and two to three movies stored on the PSPgo on top of all of the game content. It truly makes the PSPgo the ultimate portable device for long trips, short commutes or just chilling in bed before it’s time to get some sleep. While all of that may be great and all, how much better would sales have fared had Sony been able to offer consumers the opportunity to upgrade to the Go and be able to bring their UMD collections with them? I think sales figures would have more than doubled.
The reality of the situation is that Sony didn’t offer that opportunity to its former consumers and because of it, the company did see a spike in PSP sales, but it goes without saying that, that spike is largely due to the sales figures of the PSP 3000. With a price tag nearly $100 cheaper than the Go and the ability to still utilize the UMD format, a lot of gamers have chosen to simply overlook the benefits of the Go as a portable handheld and stick with Sony’s former release, the 3000. Of course, there is no individual sales data to prove this theory, but I firmly believe that PSP 3000 sales saw a large increase with the release of the Go and surely I’m not alone.
I understand fully the argument that Sony isn’t targeting current PSP owners with the PSPgo and that the company is attempting to pull in an entirely new demographic and set of consumers with the handheld device. However, it’s no secret that a lot of current PSP owners were interested or wanting to upgrade to the Go depending on certain factors, such as the UMD transfer objective. I find it hard to believe that Sony couldn’t come up with a justified plan in allowing its current owners the opportunity to transfer their games into a digital format. Despite this great injustice to those who have supported the handheld from the get go, this is by far the least qualifying factor in how Sony is sabotaging its portable gaming machine.
Reported today, by Joystiq.com, Sony does not require third-party developers or publishers to release their content through the PlayStation Network. Basically, this means that every game being released for the PSP from October 1st on, does not have to have a digital download to go along with the UMD release. In my opinion, this is a huge kick to the face of every individual, including myself, who chose to purchase the PSPgo thus far. This also means that there are titles out there that users who purchased the Go may never have the chance to play. Looking forward to a hotly anticipated third-party title? Well, you’re out of luck if that company decided it doesn’t want to release a digital download of the game.
Have you ever seen those banking commercials where the banker is offering kids an opportunity to get a credit card or a great checking account and offers them a brand new bike or a pony? However, when the kid decides to accept it, they’re met with all of these stipulations for their account that wasn’t included in the large print – like only being able to ride the bicycle in a 6×6 box. That’s the type of shenanigans that feels like is taking place with the PSPgo. I’m aware that Sony has made no promises that every PSP title that would be released from here on out would have a digital partner, but isn’t that something that was just naturally assumed with the release of the handheld? I mean, Sony didn’t even allow companies to create digital AND physical format releases at the same time for the PSP prior to October 1st because of the release of the PSPgo. So that would essentially lead one to believe that Sony’s plan all along was to release an abundance of downloadable titles alongside the release of its download only handheld.
According to Eric Lempel, “It’s up to individual third parties to decide if and when to publish their UMD releases on PSN. Most, if not all, are on board, as this is a revenue opportunity for them.” On top of this, Joystiq received word from Namco Bandai that they had no plans on releasing a digital copy of their latest Naruto release either by saying, “there are currently no plans to release Akatsuki Rising on PSN right now.”
Both of these incidents just seem like a truly terrible decision from Sony and kind of brought back memories of how Sony initially launched the PlayStation 3 with poor business decisions through creepy advertising campaigns and company quotes. It’s almost as though Sony likes setting out a difficult road to walk at the start in order to lay out impressive offerings down the line to make it seem like it was always a great choice to jump on board to its newest iteration of hardware.
Continuing on the path of poor decisions, I’d like to give a small mention to the pricing of Sony’s PSPgo. After checking up on several forums, including the official PlayStation forums, it seems users never expected the PSPgo to release at a staggering $249.99 in North America. Considering the price point of the PSP-3000, many thought that with the smaller screen size, similar battery life, lack of UMD format and late iteration into the portable device that it would be followed by a price tag to suit that type of implementation. However, everyone was wrong. I have no doubt that if Sony had released the PSPgo at a sticking point of $199.99, more people would have been willing to abandon their UMD collection in favor of the newer, sleeker PSPgo. All of these decisions seem to be detrimental to the success that the PlayStation Portable Go could have had upon launch and throughout its lifetime.
When you take into consideration one decision after the other, it’s hard to look at the situation any other way than that Sony is trying to sabotage the success of the Go without much reason. It may not be happening intentionally and it may not be as obvious to some, but I think that when you take into account all of the above, it’s hard to argue in favor of these decisions opposed to against. I’d love to hear what you think about these decisions that Sony has made in regards to the Go and if you feel Sony is unintentionally sabotaging one of its brightest electronic devices without even knowing it let us know.