After reporting some pretty disappointing losses, Sony is desperately trying to restructure its games division to at least break even. After stating boldly that they will not give up on the PSP, Sony will now seriously push the multimedia capabilities of the system. They've already started developing partnerships with media providers, such as amazon, but it looks like Sony is looking for even larger partnerships.
According to MarketWatch, analysts are predicting Sony will partner up with "at least one big ISP, such as Yahoo." Such tie-ins will promote the PSP's ability to download movies, television shows and PlayStation games. The PSP is technically capable of doing a lot, but the goal is to get the word out to the mainstream.
"It was pretty much a competition issue with the Nintendo so we have to fight back by introducing more attractive applications [for the PSP] by using the network," Nobuyuki Oneda, Sony's CFO, told the Financial Times.
Sony really dropped the ball early on in the PSP's life when there was no official media software available. However, Sony finally came through when they released the PSP's Media Manager, but like many other available software programs, it had problems, too. Well, Sony is giving it another shot with Media Manager 2, and CNET has had a chance to take it for spin.
The new interface is "pretty stylish and sleekly designed."
Better access to system's multimedia capabilities.
Ability to transfer word documents and view them in HTML.
Most of the functionality is available in other freeware programs.
Somewhat high system requirements.
Can't transfer copy-protected DVD's or audio files.
Won't encode at 368x208 size.
Overall, CNET gave Media Manager 2 a 6.3 and said if you have a decent understanding of how to run a computer, you'll be better off with a third-party software, such as PSP Video 9. While it looks like Sony didn't do much better with its latest media software incarnation, its release really begs the question "Do we really need it at this point?"
I manage to do all my file transfers and video encoding through freeware just fine, so I see no reason why anyone should spend the $17 to download the software or especially the $25 for the boxed version. But if you really feel the need to pick this up, you can buy it here.
Wario Ware-styled games seem to be all the rage these days. We had a look at WTFa few days ago, and although HOT PXL also uses an all-capitalized abbreviated title, it has an interesting feature set that may help distinguish it from its competitor. Firstly, it has a 150 game off the bat, and is one of the few games that takes advantage of one of PSP's greatest features: downloadable levels. Atari plans on making at least fifty available to download. In addition, Atari is going to leverage the weight of its incredible catalog of games, and will bring out some quick retro remakes of their classic titles.
Not only does HOT PXL feature an incredible breadth of game content, but it appears like it will feature tons of multimedia content as well. In addition to an original licensed soundtrack, the game will feature videos, and some kind of podcasting ability. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it appears like this game will finally utilize all of PSP's unique capabilities. Unfortunately, the game won't be available until next February, so WTF may have to satiate you until then.
Rocky Mountain News recently sat down with senior marketing manager and friend John Koller about the current state of the PSP, and how it faces an identity crisis. "We looked at (the PSP)... as a strong portable game system with multifunctional limbs... It's still a gaming system at its heart." The article notes that Sony wanted to highlight the games of the system first and foremost, and with an excellent library of launch games, the gaming critics and community at large embraced the handheld.
However, with a lack of consistent high-profile original games for the system, many PSP users demanded the media functions of the system to be up to snuff. With the failure of UMDs, and cumbersome media restrictions, the PSP has failed to reinvent itself as a defining media platform as well: "The PSP consumer has turned out to be a different consumer in many ways than what we have targeted," Koller admits. By focusing on firmware upgrades, the upcoming GPS and camera peripherals, Sony has a chance to redefine itself. Some other highlights of the article include:
As mentioned before, Sony is working on a DRM that can deliver video and music to the system. They are considering how to deliver content, whether it be through Connect, or even a third-party service.
"Future iterations of the PSP are likely, Koller said, but Sony is counting on the current version to be around for 10 years, much like their consoles. Sony typically releases a new console about every five years, while continuing to support previous models for another five years."
While Nintendo will be Sony's direct competitor, Microsoft's upcoming Zune appears to worry Sony. "I am assuming, we are assuming, that the Zune will eventually have game play," Koller predicts. He expects Zune to have "a huge impact" on the industry.