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PSP is number 1 in Japan the first half of 2008

During the past few weeks the PSP's sales have been less than ideal, but Sony's portable is still on top in Japan for 2008 ... so far. According the Enterbrain, the PSP has sold 1,583,731 units the first half of the year in the land of the rising sun. The PSP's main competitor, Nintendo's DS, sold 1,314,919 units during that same period. Nintendo's portable is still way ahead of the PSP in terms of lifetime sales though -- 23,484,680 units of the DS were sold versus the PSP's 10,157,757 units sold.

In the software arena, Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G is in second place with 1,602,386 copies sold. It was beaten by yet another Nintendo product, Mario Kart Wii, which sold 1,744,387 copies.

With the PSP Brite launching in about two weeks and DSi launching in a month, the two handhelds' struggle for dominance in Japan will truly begin. Now we gotta ask: who are you rooting for?

Rebellion CTO: PSP 'kicking arse,' just in the shadow of DS

Rebellion CTO Chris Kingsley sat down with GamesIndustry.biz in an interview and he had quite a few positive things to say about the PSP. However, he claims that publishing games on the PSP "wasn't a deliberate choice, it just happened. We were very keen on it as a platform and it took off for us." Earlier during the the week, Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley echoed similar sentiments.

The CTO went on further to say that Sony's handheld has a good few years left in it, thanks to its versatility, but admits that publishers are not as keen as they once were about software on the PSP. Why? It isn't piracy, according to Kingsley, but rather developers want "to work on the flashy, high-end stuff." He cites the PS2 as a "less glamorous platform" that has remained economically viable for publishers because the software matches the right platform -- Kingsley feels the reason why the PSP has been "kicking the arse of pretty much every other system out there" in Japan is precisely because it has the right games. His illation on the PSP is that Sony has "done a great job," with "tens of millions of PSPs ... worldwide." but that its "incredible" success has been overshadowed by the DS.

PSP emulates DS games at whopping 4fps

The PSP scene continues to develop new and exciting ways to use the PSP. Recently, a Japanese homebrew developer by the name of "SofiyaCat" has ported the Nintendo DS emulator DeSmuME to PSP. However, don't expect it to offer anything playable. Framerates are stuck in the single digits in this early, unoptimized code. We're not exactly sure if a virtual touch-screen will be offered in the future, but it appears that this is more a display of coding prowess, rather than an attempt at making something the masses can truly embrace.

We're no advocates of piracy, though. Although we're impressed by this effort, we can't say that this will render our DS systems obsolete. Besides, we have a lot of widescreen, non-touching games to play in the coming months.

[Via Joystiq]

Rebellion on PSP development: "it just happened"

Rebellion Studios, the team behind the PSP versions of Dead to Rights: Reckoning, James Bond: From Russia with Love, Miami Vice, GUN Showdown, and Free Running, has been nominated for a Develop award for being the best handheld developer. Their prolific catalog of games certainly deserves some recognition (even if many of these titles aren't of the utmost quality).

Speaking with Pocket Gamer, CEO Jason Kingsley explains the somewhat serendipidous relationship the team has had with PSP: "It's weird because we're down for this Develop award for being best handheld studio, but we're not a handheld developer. We're a developer who's happened to made a lot of PSP games, which is something we didn't really plan on doing. It's just happened [sic]," Kingsley explained. "We've done something like a dozen titles, and people keep coming to us with more. We're having to turn a lot of it down" (And certainly, they want to be focused primarily on their upcoming project, Star Wars Battlefront, a PSP exclusive.)

It appears that the team is comfortable with the immense power that PSP has to offer, which is the main reason why they've focused on the platform. "DS has been difficult because our engine is floating point and DS is a fixed point platform."

Itadaki says PSP too powerful for Ninja Gaiden

We're certainly impressed by Team Ninja's upcoming DS Ninja Gaiden game. But why is a hardcore 3D action game being developed for Nintendo's admittedly weaker handheld, especially when it comes from the typically technology-savvy team at Team Ninja? GamePro questioned the infamously opinionated Tomonobu Itagaki on why they avoided the PSP platform.

"The design philosophy for the PSP as a piece of hardware is a home gaming machine ... If we were gonna make it for PSP, it'd be better for us to make it for a powerful home system instead," he said. The PSP can display console-quality graphics, unlike the DS. It seems as though Itagaki would be far more interested in creating a new game for a home console rather than a portable, especially if it would take a similar amount of effort.

Puzzlingly, he believes that hardcore gamers wouldn't want a Ninja Gaiden game to appear on Sony's handheld. "I think if I were to develop this game on the PSP, most of my fans would be upset." Sorry to prove you wrong Itagaki, but we're more than a little upset that you think that way.

Next Worms game to have exclusive features on PSP

We know that Worms: Open Warfare 2 is coming to both Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. So, how are the two versions different? Well, both feature online (Infrastructure) play, but the PSP version will have a few features that Nintendo's handheld won't be able to offer. In an interview with IGN, director Martyn Brown revealed that the game will have additional leaderboards and the ability to share user-created levels with others.

"With the PSP version, each user can upload a number of their custom created landscapes to be stored on the game's server, and those landscapes can then be downloaded by other users at any time. The PSP version also has extended community features, enabling players to form clans and compete against other clans, as well as send messages to other players who are connected to the game server (aka WormNet)."

The PSP version will also have a few more customization options for Worms teams, and a "Time Attack" mode, "which are missions that see the player use the Ninja Rope, Parachute or Jetpack to race around a landscape, guiding their worm to an exit point in the shortest amount of time possible." We're excited to see Team 17 acknowledge the PSP's robust hardware capabilities and take advantage of it. When Worms: Open Warfare 2 comes later this year.

PSP remains leader of EA handheld revenue

Sony's handheld continues to drive profits to mega-publisher EA. According to Pocket Gamer, PSP games generated $258 million last fiscal year. In comparison, DS games only managed to generate $104 million. Similar figures were revealed last year, when EA admitted that they'd rather focus on Nintendo's handheld than Sony's, calling it a more "fun" system.

Although PSP sales make the largest portion of EA's handheld revenue, the company may spin the fact negatively. While $256 million is a sizable figure, it represents a 28 percent loss compared to last year. On the other hand, the DS platform seems to be gaining momentum for EA, as it has shot up 149 percent. We don't care too much about these numbers, though. As long as EA continues to make good, original games for our platform, PSP gamers have nothing to worry about.

System envy: 7 DS games I wish were on PSP

I may write about PSP gaming news, but I own and play every system (including the new and next-gen consoles). So while I do get to play most any game I want, I can't help but wish in a feverish state, that certain system exclusives went to other consoles. In this case, if I wanted to list 7 DS games I'd love to see show up on PSP (however unrealistic that may be). So here it is:

  1. New Super Mario Bros (My favorite DS game, but I would like better power ups and more variety. It would also be great to see what the creators could do in 2D with the power of PSP)
  2. SNK vs Capcom Cardfighters (Addictive and strategic gameplay that makes me giddy. Only if it comes to PSP, add back in free-roaming and take out the game killing bug)
  3. Ace Attorney (Great characters, funny cases and it makes you think. That sorta game would work on any system)
  4. Kirby (He may be cute, but the gameplay is classic)
  5. Advance Wars (Because Field Commander is good, but not THIS good)
  6. WarioWare(Because there aren't enough mini-game titles on PSP)
  7. Meteos (Because every Q? Entertainment game should be on PSP)

What about you reader? Are there any DS games you'd like to see on PSP, or do you refuse to even entertain the thought?

PSP at the top of handheld evolution

We know that the PSP is powerful. But how powerful is it compared to handhelds before it? A lot more, as seen by Pocket Gamer's recent analysis of handheld systems. PSP's 333MHz of processing power knocks makes the rest of the chart seem miniscule in comparison.

Pocket Gamer's feature is certainly an eye-opener. Of particular note is a fascinating diagram of screen sizes, overlaying each other. The PSP's wide screen LCD far exceeds the size of its nearest competitor, the Nomad. Even with such impressive statistics, the system remains one of the lightest handhelds created, and doesn't stand out as disproportionately larger than the others. This is a must-read feature for any PSP fan.

Sony won't lose money on PSP, says analyst

Prices for PSP have been dropping worldwide, and some have been asking why the price drop wasn't more significant. According to IDC's Billy Pidgeon, Sony will never price the system lower than its manufacturing cost. Unlike PS3, which Sony sells at a loss, PSP will bring profit for the publisher. "[Sony] will continue to lower price as they gain economies of scale, but it's not likely that the company will price below its marginal cost of production to move a few more units."

The price drop should not be seen as a move of desperation as some people have been painting it. It's undeniable that PSP sales have been lacking compared to the DS. However, comparisons between the two simply are not apt: "I don't think Sony will 'beat' the DS, nor do I think that they aspire to do so." Pidgeon blames the media for encouraging the PSP-DS debate, a crime which we can admit to. "Games for the two devices are different, and the gaming experience is quite different. I think that the only people who care about the DS-PSP sales battle are the media."

[Via GI.biz]

March NPD reveals improving PSP sales--is it enough?

Sony issued a statement today, reminding gamers that the PlayStation brand continues to get stronger. According to NPD data, "March 2007 showed a 24% increase in retail dollars generated year-over-year for the PlayStation brand in North America with total sales of $447 million." The three-pillar strategy seems to be quite successful for Sony: sales from PS3, PSP, PS2 (and God of War II), are all adding green to Sony's wallet. PSP hardware has gained some momentum in March: up 2% over February with sales of 179,796 units. More importantly, software sales have experienced a 13% jump.

With a price drop at the beginning of April, next month's figures should prove even better for Sony. However, one has to question if the price drop will be enough. Nintendo DS sold through over half a million units in the same period--easily more than twice that of PSP. Sony may not be number one, but as long as it maintains steady growth and profitability, does it really matter? And most importantly, does it matter to gamers?

CNET editor says DS for girls, PSP for adults

David Carnoy, executive editor of CNET, has written an interesting piece about the appeal of Nintendo DS to females. Girls seem to love Nintendo's handheld, and they help make a large portion of Nintendo's current audience. For example, one CNET editor's girlfriend "liked the concept of the touch screen ... She thought it was more interactive than what you had with the PSP."

Certainly, women can enjoy PSP (see picture), but it's clear that PSP is largely targeted towards males. But is that really a problem? As Carnoy points out, focusing on this demographic has created a large library of games that can entertain an audience that simply won't be satisfied by the DS's numerous casual games: "Fact is, the number of really good titles for the DS is actually pretty thin, especially if you happen to be over 21 and don't worship at the altar of Mario or Pokemon. If you're looking to play more 'adult' games with any sort of backbone, the PSP is a far better choice with a much stronger game library."

Like almost every other analyst out there, Carnoy believes that PSP can better attract a wider audience with a redesigned handheld. The problem appears to be Sony's reluctance: "I wouldn't be surprised if I saw the DS Extra Lite before I saw the next iteration of the PSP."

[Thanks, Joel!]

Which system has the best Puzzle Quest?

Michael Fahey from Kotaku has lost his mind. In a consumerist rage, he went out and bought both the DS and PSP versions of Puzzle Quest. Luckily, his insanity proves to have a use, since he's able to compare the two versions. Which system came out of the bloody cage match a winner? Lucky for PSP owners, Puzzle Quest is best on Sony's portable. Better graphics, better sound and better AI make the PSP version the clear choice to buy if you have both systems. On the downside, they mention that the PSP Puzzle Quest has load times, but anyone who plays PSP (or any disc based system) should be used to that by now.

[Thanks Colin]

Analyst: PSP and DS will outdo home consoles

Don't throw out your handhelds: there's a lot of life left in them. According to an analyst at DFC Intelligence, the ever-expanding market for both DS and PSP will help allow it to beat the current generation systems: "Under the right scenario, by 2011 the combined installed base of the DS and PSP could exceed that for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360," noted David Cole.

While Nintendo will be responsible for much of the growth of the handheld industry, Sony is certainly not out of the game--they will "establish a solid position in the marketplace" (if they haven't already). Cole reminds investors that "existing console game publishers have found it is possible to make over $100 million in revenue from a single PSP title based on the right franchise," a figure that's not to be scoffed at.

Ultimately, PSP's success will be determined by a number of factors, with Sony's support for the platform being key. Sony said they're working on exciting new things for the platform at GDC--hopefully, it's true.

[Via GameDaily BIZ]

Analyst: lower price, younger demographic

Analysts get paid a lot of money to come up with stuff. While most of the info they spew out is incorrect, it's still fascinating to see the kooky predictions that they come up with. GameDaily BIZ reports that Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian believes that Sony will be targeting younger players in future PSP campaigns: "Sony could be preparing to bolster the PSP handheld market with a shift in marketing towards a younger demographic, possibly including a hardware price cut later this year."

A lower price combined with some more kid-friendly software a la LocoRoco may help the PSP compete directly against its biggest competitor: the DS. Certainly, Nintendo has reaped the benefits of going for the younger gamer: will Sony be able to strike gold as well?

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