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PlayStation (Games) Portables (Games) Entertainment Games

Piracy and the PSP 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the arrr-ye-hearties dept.
In a lengthy interview with Gamasutra about the state of the Playstation brand in 2009, Sony's senior vice president of marketing, Peter Dille, made some interesting comments about how piracy has affected their popular portable console, the PSP. He said, "we're convinced that piracy has taken out a big chunk of our software sales on PSP," a platform that was slow to start anyway due to the lack of early interest from game developers. Dille mentions that while they can fight piracy with hardware upgrades in new versions, that doesn't do anything to help the roughly 50 million PSPs already out there. He goes on to address other aspects of the PlayStation line, including complaints about the pricing and exclusivity.
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Piracy and the PSP

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  • Re:Scapegoat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @10:44PM (#27682859)

    Not if a large enough percentage of your user base pirates already.

    You're right. If 50 million people suddenly start using piracy solely as a way of not spending money on the PSP, they won't make money.

    If anything, the growing attitude of "don't buy it, get this firwmare patch and download it here instead!" will hasten the death of systems like the PSP. It'll take a while, but eventually even good games will fail.

    When PC gaming dies and Nintendo no longer sells ROMs on the Wii, I'll be happy to entertain this thought. Right now, niether history nor reality are backing this assumption up.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:27PM (#27683143)

    First, it's the frigging number of games it has - barely any. Take a look at the shelf space the PSP has, and it's very little compared to its competiror, the DS. Heck, I've seen more shelf space dedicated to PSP hardware and PSP accessories, than PSP games.

    Secondly, the lack of releases - you can almost count the number of games the PSP will have coming out in the year ahead on fingers and toes. New release lists on the PSP are remarkably skimpy. Heck, I'm sure there are more games for the PSP released every month for the first few years than a year nowadays. Retail space for the PSP has been shrinking - even the PS2 gets more shelf space!

    Third, the pirates offered a better product. Games load quickly off memory stick, and save battery life as well. And heck, you can dump your games yourself easily nowadays (insert UMD into PSP, enable USB on the UMD drive, and a little .iso file is ready for you to copy off - you don't see the contents of the disk, just the ISO file).

    The competition, the Nintendo DS, is far easier to pirate for (a memory cart is direct-mapped for 128MB, without bankswitching... thus most games are under 128MB in size, while PSP games can be 1.8GB or so). But it has a lot of games, tons more released practically daily, and many that sell for years. Enough so that practically everyone can find a set of games they'll like.

    Sony basically abandoned the PSP once they released the PS3. They could've released firmware updates that let you dump UMD disks to a memory stick (locked to that console with DRM blah blah blah and requiring the original UMD, a la the Xbox360), but no, we get crap feature updates. About the biggest thing in the firmware update was... Skype.

  • Re:Poor excuse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:42PM (#27683223)

    Funny how the PlayStation was the most pirated console of its time, yet it still beat the n64 which I'd assume was a real pain to pirate for. Now the DS is pirate to hell, and the psp is losing, oh how the tables have turned.

  • My PSP is hacked. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pecosdave (536896) * on Thursday April 23, 2009 @12:10AM (#27683399) Homepage Journal

    I have a 16GB Pro Duo in it. I have a bunch of PS1 and PSP games on that memory stick, I'm using compression but there's plenty of room left.

    I own every PSP and PS1 game on there. Seriously, I have the disk or UMD for every game on there. Why did I hack my PSP? Because I don't want to carry the fucking UMD's around! I tried that at first, UMD's don't take abuse nearly as well as Game Boy Cartridges did. My Street Fighter Alpha 3 UMD has the clear window separated from the rest of the UMD casing. (that particular game has its own smaller Pro Duo - it gets confused by large ones) I can snap it back out and use it, I'm considering a drop of super glue but the memory stick is sort of nullifying my desire to do that.

    I guess you can call me "an honest pirate" since I'm not actually pirating anything, but I use all the pirate utils.

    My take on Sony - I was criticizing them for ignoring their customers. PSP 1000 people hacked it to do things Sony never intended, so they came out with a 2000 that was (initially) harder to hack. People hacked it, so they came out with a 3000 that's incredibly difficult to hack. The customer spoke up and said "I want my PSP to do these things" and Sony, instead of making it happen, said no.

    If the PSP 4000 rumors are correct, it shows Sony is beginning to listen. The 4000 supposedly doesn't have a UMD drive and will be pure on board storage.

    That's a step in the right direction, but don't kill physical media just yet.

    I like physical media. I have 10GB worth of music on my iPhone - I ripped all 10GB off of CD's that are in display racks in my living room. All of my PSP and PS1 games on my PSP have disk either in my office closet or in a CD binder near my entry (Hurricane Ike killed the original cases/manuals)

    Please don't go pure online distribution only. I don't trust it. We've already seen a couple of DRM laden distribution companies go belly up. We don't need you "Pulling a Sony" when you're tired of us.

    To be fair, I bought pirate hardware for my Game Boy Advanced - cheap Chinese crap was broke when it arrived so I never actually got to use it. My reasons were the same - not to pirate, but to not carry the carts around. A coworker is doing this with his DS, I think I'm going to do this with my DS also.

    I feel more comfortable knowing if my whole backpack gets stolen I lose my PSP and my DS, but when it comes down to it, I only have to replace the systems (and the memory cards) not the systems and every damn game I had for them.

    Between two major theft incidents (both inside of locked personal area's) and hurricane Ike I've lost lots of media. I know how much it sucks to replace it all. The less at risk I put my media the happier I am. I like the idea of digital distribution since there's no media or hardware to risk, I just don't trust the providers to offer it to me for the rest of my life any time I want it.

  • Game Starvation! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Amigori (177092) <eefranklin718@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @12:16AM (#27683415) Homepage

    As a gamer, I've had my eye on a PSP for a while now, mainly for the piracy/hack factor. Its a nice little system that would be great for emulation and PSP games. But what is killing this system, other than the DS, is the Game Starvation. All one needs to do is compare the review lists at IGN (or your favorite game site). Games come out weekly for the DS, in bulk. Games come out in spurts for the PSP, a few here and there, sometimes months apart.

    • DS = Lots of games, great and shovelware, ports, remakes, and originals
    • PSP = Few games, mostly PSOne ports or remakes, not much original content outside of LocoRoco and Patapon. It doesn't help that the devs half-ass most of the ports/remakes.

    Plus when you go to the store, the PSP section always looks like a clearance section. Few games, broken/off displays, lots of empty spaces signifying "better days," and the same few crap games they had last time you stopped in.

    Games sell systems. And "50 million" PSP gamers should be large enough to sell new, quality content to. Lack of games and a great system to do emulation on equals high piracy numbers. And lack of software sales is DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE to available content. Just put together a Virtual Console like Nintendo with legal emulation and see how your software sales do.

    Sony, want to turn your PSP software sales around? Then 1) sell the damn thing to developers! Your claimed user base should be more than enough to attract some good shops with interesting ideas and IP. 2) Hire new merchandise reps. Your store displays suck. 3) Keep publishing older games and keep them in stock. To sell more games they have to be available. 4) Stop trying to make every game a port or offshoot of a PS2/PS3 game.

  • Re:Emulation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @12:30AM (#27683491) Journal

    Kudos for the "Clue" reference.

    I was considering buying a PSP actually. The piracy aspect entered into the equation. Then I looked at the games available and realised it wasn't worth it.

    Yes, Sony, I wouldn't even PIRATE your games.

    About the only game I'd like is Football Manager. I like the idea of a portable version of that. But it's not worth shelling out $200 on a console for just for one title. And I literally found no other game across the entire race that I was interested in.

  • Re:Emulation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thesolo (131008) * <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @12:32AM (#27683501) Homepage
    Everything the parent said is 100% true. It's a slick piece of hardware, but after nearly 8 months of not using it, I finally just sold mine to a friend for his kids to use.

    I used my PSP while riding the train to & from work every day, about 35 minutes in each direction. As a result, I wound up playing Lumines more than anything else because every other game I tried was a complete joke, or, in the case of GTA, too convoluted & involved for easy pick-up & put-down gameplay. If I can't turn the game off at my stop without losing all of my progress, then it's not worth playing.

    And yeah, UMD movies, why on earth would I want them!? So I can rewatch half of my DVD collection in "teeny weeny eyestrain-o-vision"? (Thanks, Yahtzee.) Fuck that.
  • Re:Flash beats UMD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pecosdave (536896) * on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:22AM (#27683953) Homepage Journal

    Just an FYI:

    Pecos is a Navajo word. Most Americans can't agree on how to pronounce it because the Navajo use vowel sounds that don't exist in English.

    My user name is Pecosdave because like Pecos Bill (well, he was a Texas immigrant, but never mind that) I'm from the Pecos Valley, in Texas. My ancestors fought and died so anonymous coward asshats like you don't call us British anymore.

  • PSP user (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:26AM (#27683967)

    Remember that custom firmwares actually allow playing legal copies of new games. Back when I bought my PSP (mostly for development and emulators etc.) I decided that I'd buy only a few initial releases (of which Mercury was clearly the best) and no more, as back then it was already obvious that new games started "requiring" newer firmwares (although in most cases this is nothing more than comparing version string in game againist one that PSP reports back). Back then 1.5 was, thanks to its vulnerabilities, the de facto standard for homebrew. If you upgraded, you lost all that, along with ability to downgrade.

    Since then came the custom firmwares, and thanks to those, I can still walk to a shop, buy a new game, and play it on my PSP without sacrificing the whole REASON I bought the console in the first place, and since then my original games collection has increased of 3 1.5 compatible games to thirty-something. Guess I'm still a bad guy.

    There were also a few comments about digital distribution. Sony is doing also that wrong. On the release day, I could have bought a digital copy of Resistance Retribution from playstation store for 40 euros (probably cheaper from the US store), which lacks plastic case, printed covers and manual, physical discs, transportation cost, and all other costs exclusive to physical copies. It also lacks resale-value (except when sold with the console). Instead of that I bought the UMD "Special Edition" version for 24 euros.ÂCould someone please give a sensible explanation for that price difference?

  • Re:My PSP is hacked. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Weedhopper (168515) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @03:16AM (#27684189)

    Let me tell you, you're not alone.

    I'm not so concerned about losing my games along with my PSP because I can either just re-rip all of those games and/or I have the game ISOs on my Macbook Pro.

    Due to the nature of my job I live nine or ten months out of the year out of a backpack and a duffel bag. For me, space is a premium. I have 40 game UMDs. Another copy of each of those is on my HD or on a memory stick. UMDs and their attendant cases take up a stupid amount of space. I paid for it. I want access, dammit! Lumines is just as good today as it was when it was first released.

    Even when I'm in the US/EU/EA, I don't want to have to make a choice in which games I carry. What kind of ridiculous shit is that in 2009?

    I have the DS as well, also hacked and with every game on storage and flash. It's incredibly easy to lose these infernal cartidges.

    There's a lot of stuff Steam got wrong, but there's stuff it got right, too. I get on any computer and log in with my Steam account, I can play anything in my Steam library. If just copy the game files, I don't have to download it for each machine, either.

    Face it, physical media is dead. I don't want that outdated and obsolete shit anymore. Sell me what I want, digital distribution, cloud access and a good sized local cache.

  • by Chonine (840828) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @03:21AM (#27684211)

    Piracy is the perfect excuse. Poor sales? Blame piracy, no one gets fired and they keep doing what they've been doing. The PSP is a neat system, which had a botched launch and poor support since. I had it and enjoyed it for a while, but it couldn't hold up to my DS. Why?

    Piracy on the DS is much more fun. A flashcart with memory card can be had for under ten bucks. They do everything out the box, getting data on them is a cinch. If it truly is piracy that has killed the PSP, then the DS should have been gone and buried. It is not fun nor easy to play homebrew or emulators on most PSPs, especially the more recent. Yet the DSi has a $10 fix.

    Perhaps one day Sony will stop making excuses and make systems and games that I want to buy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @03:48AM (#27684321)

    My first post on Slashdot (long time reader) and I had to chip in about this.

    I have original PSP, that was bought for me as a present a couple of years ago. I was given 2 films with it, and two games. Now I'll be honest, I'm a pirate and I pirate everything. My golden rule is - if it was good enough to play/read/watch - then I'd buy it, which is why I saw all of my fave films at the cinema, then bought them on DVD, then ripped them to hard drive. If they're not good enough, I just download them - so I have a lot of downloaded games/content.

    My PSP was hacked the moment it could be, so you'd have thought I'd have downloaded every game out there to play on it. Not so - I've downloaded two PSP games to play on it and that's it. The only thing my PSP gets used for now (and it gets used regularly) is surfing the net and playing emulation games.

    The reason? The games suck Sony. Yes there are some great ones out there, but mainly they're not good enough to buy. Same for the UMD films - why would I pay double for a film to put it on the PSP when it's less quality on DVD and cheaper?

    As for the format games/films are on - why would I want to carry around boxs of disks to play games, when I can put them on a memory stick, the console is meant to be portable, not *it's portable, but to play a few games you'll need a bag as well*.

    This is the reason you've got poor sales - the console is an amazing bit of kit (they're purchase them for schools now, to aid with learning), but the format/games/films that come out on it suck.

    -AC

  • Re:Emulation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by evilkasper (1292798) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @08:37AM (#27686393)
    You know I bought my PSP the day it came out. I was traveling a lot at the time and had high hopes for it. The release games weren't very engaging to say the least. Then it seemed like there was a period where they only released movies for it. So I stopped using it. I would wager that I'm not the only person who did this. Sony seems to have really gone off the deep end in the past few years, bad marketing, not properly supporting the PSP, horrible price schemes .. is it just me or do they keep making more expensive versions of the PS3? So the clais of piracy ate my profit seem far fetched to me.
  • Why I sold my PSP (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @09:36AM (#27687215)

    One of the main reasons I bought the PSP was to play Gran Turismo which was used in all the early PSP pre-release promotion, but never released during the couple years I owned it. (Still not released? Or canceled? Well, who cares.)

    I found that I spent most of my time on the PSP using it as an ebook reader. I did want to run lots of user made applications, so I had to switch back and forth between different firmware all the time if I wanted to use a certain application, then switch to the native web browser or play a current game. That was a real hassle. I spent much more time trying to keep up with the latest hacks than gaming. Also, the browser was nearly worthless. Many sites wouldn't load or function correctly because of the memory or software limitations.

    As for games, I spent much more time playing emulated classics, rather than the occasional rare new game that was actually worth playing.

    I had an earlier model without TV-out which is something they really should included in the first place. It seems like a no-brainer which could have been originally added at minimal cost. When they later released a TV-out model, I was glad I had already sold my older model. If my model had a TV-out, I'm sure I would have spent more time and gotten more value out of it as a portable and TV gaming system (and media player).

    UMD was also a pointless format. Why release a brand new format that no other hardware can play? Does Sony honestly think I want to buy another copy of each movie I want to see for each device I own? As much as I hate Memory Stick, they should have found a way to build the PSP without UMD and stuck with a combination of Memory Stick (or a more common flash memory), internal memory and online storage access.

    Anyway, the PSP was just a Portable Frustration Machine. It had so much potential as an all-in-one entertainment device, but the intentional hardware and software limitations just grew to be more trouble than they were worth.

    I sold my PSP and later picked up a completely open Nokia Linux internet tablet for cheap. It was dirt cheap, has a higher resolution than PSP and iPhone and can run just about anything I want, within the hardware limitations. The browser is much more capable than the PSP every was. I can run a terminal and just any command line app I need, on the go without artificial limitations.

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