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PlayStation (Games) Portables (Games) Entertainment Games

Piracy and the PSP 272

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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  • Poor excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:00PM (#27682593) Journal

    Piracy is rampant on the DS too, and there's tons of money being made there.

  • Re:Poor excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:15PM (#27682689)

    Piracy is probably the main reason the PSP hardware sells at all.

  • by Dotren ( 1449427 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:16PM (#27682701)

    It can't have anything to do with the quality of the media right?

    Granted, I've never been much of a Playstation person, normally I tend to enjoy more of Nintendo's lineups, but I can't recall the last time I read about a PSP game that I had even the slightest interest in.

    Putting that aside for a moment, do they actually have data to support this or are they just using piracy as an excuse to explain low sales numbers?

  • by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:20PM (#27682721)

    What probably happened is they picked a number for how much money they wanted to make and when they didn't make it blamed it on piracy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:25PM (#27682755)

    Yeah and how does this all fit in with the PlayStation 3 STILL uncracked after two years on the market?

  • Flash beats UMD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lamadude ( 1270542 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:27PM (#27682773)
    The fact that pirated PSP games run faster and use less battery probably didn't help either. (since they run from flash memory rather than the clumsy UMD discs)
  • Re:Scapegoat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:28PM (#27682779)

    If what you make is good you ~will~ make money.

    Not if a large enough percentage of your user base pirates already. There simply won't be enough people that -do- buy.

    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.

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

    by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:29PM (#27682793) Homepage Journal

    I don't know how much a PSP costs to make but I think the days of hardware manufacturers subsidising their consoles must be on the way out.

    When there's a significant amount of piracy it means you are not only subsidising the pirates but have to charge your actual game-buying customers more (or pay developers less) to try and recoup that money.

    I think Nintendo have a sensible idea in selling reasonable hardware at a reasonable profit.

  • Re:Poor excuse (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stastuffis ( 632932 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:43PM (#27682851)

    Piracy is rampant on the DS too, and there's tons of money being made there.

    Agreed. Buy a flash cart, a microSD card and you're off to the piracy races for the DS. Much less complicated than PSP modding even though that is relatively simple.

    It boils down to a few things: price, game selection and allure of the hardware.

    It automatically failed on price. Remember, when its price dropped the PSP received a decent boost in sales. Unfortunately, due to their sparse selection of quality games, I don't think it held much interest.

    The launch of the DS was stronger. The DS Lite reinvigorated and popularized the console. Also, it provided an interesting way to play games. Now games could be made that actually interested mom and pop (read: Brain Age). The PSP stuck with hardcore technological advantage and fell on its face. Not to mention the 'nub' joystick is a pain to get used to or the disparity in battery life.

    Sony has no one to blame but themselves, but honestly, they've done relatively well in an arena that Nintendo absolutely slaughters.

  • by joocemann ( 1273720 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @11:47PM (#27682885)

    Whats to crack? The PS3 comes with a generally open hardware platform, allows you to upgrade the HDD without voiding the warranty, and you can install alternate OSs without a modchip.

    Sony made it so people don't even care to because pretty much everything people do with modded consoles is made available.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @12:05AM (#27682991)

    I do it to the kids. :)

  • by Punto ( 100573 ) <puntob@gma i l . c om> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @12:16AM (#27683059) Homepage
    with their nintendo DS wich is absolutely undefeated in terms of piracy.
  • Re:Emulation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 23, 2009 @12:17AM (#27683071)

    Maybe someone should clue Sony in to the fact that all the games they have "released" for the PSP fell into one of three categories:

    #1 - Crappy "rpg" games that can't be played for anything less than a 2-hour stretch (Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core, Monster Hunter, Wild Arms XF aka Wild Arms Tactics, etc).

    #2 - Re-releases of games people already owned a copy of for original Playstation.

    #3 - UTTER CRAP (lookin' at you, Lumines, you cheapass soulless Columns-alike).

    If there'd been some truly impressive, unique, and compelling games for the PSP, it would have driven sales. If they'd made the thing to function correctly, it would have driven sales.

    Instead, compare PSP vs DS to Sega Nomad vs Game Boy. What do we have in each generation? Nintendo's had a lesser screen, less processing power, less cute/pretty visuals, but more battery life and kick-ass, fun to play games. Thus, Nintendo won.

    Piracy, like communism, is just a red herring [] Sony is using to try to distract people from the fact that they're a bunch of half-wits who would no longer know a good game if someone shoved it up their whiny asses.

  • Re:Emulation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki AT cox DOT net> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:10AM (#27683401)

    There's a cost barrier on UMD movies where it eventually makes sense.

    Unfortunately for Sony that barrier is at about 5 bucks.

  • Re:Emulation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smash ( 1351 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:16AM (#27683417) Homepage Journal

    Consider that Jurassic Park was modeled and rendered on SGI Indigo workstations with a MIPS R4000 CPU running at 90 MHz, and that the PSP has two MIPS R4000 CPUs, each running at up to 333 MHz...

    Jurassic Park was not rendered in *real time*. It could have been rendered on a 286 running at 8mhz if you were to wait long enough...

  • Re:Emulation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @01:58AM (#27683605)

    The real reason is that the game industry is over produced, and past games compete with new products. How many games are released each year? Who can keep up with them all? We can't buy every game that is released. Then there's the fact that most of them aren't worth the $60 pricetag let alone the fact you can rent them for a fraction of the price or buy them used and get the same enjoyment out of them.

    Truth be told the game market is suffering from over production.

  • Re:Emulation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:05AM (#27683639) Homepage Journal

    Thus the words "modeled and".

    Anyhow, it was just putting the power of the PSP into perspective. If you want another perspective, a typical SGI Indy was capable of running web, proxy, mail and DNS servers in the background while playing Doom 3 in the foreground.

    For a handheld, the hardware just rocks, and isn't what holds the device back. The lack of support from Sony North America (SCEA) is the big problem -- they have been extraordinary recalcitrant and not supported games developers, but wanted a small slice of a guaranteed income while doing nothing, instead of a bigger slice which would require some active work. Leeching off the Japanese work and investments is only going to go so far, because the typical Western gamer just won't dosh out $50 for the latest jap-rpg port or old converted PS1 game.
    Western games designed specifically for the PSP are few and far between, and that's where Sony should look for the real reason, instead of blaming piracy.

  • Re:Emulation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Draek ( 916851 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:31AM (#27683749)

    So, to which category do God of War: Chains of Olympus and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops belong?

    Yes, the PSP has its fair share of shitty games, but so does the DS and every other console in existence, portable or not. And when it comes to fun games, both have plenty of good ones, despite what the fanboys of either may say. The problem is tackling Nintendo in the portable arena is much like going against WoW in the MMORPG arena: inertia's a bitch, specially if you're a new player in the market.

  • HomeBrew! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by strange_tractor ( 414986 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @02:48AM (#27683819) Homepage

    I bought my PSP in order to have something to do on my daily commute, I thought I'd play games on it, I played through God Of War, and a few others, and started to realise that nothing came close to GoW in terms of fun, so it languished as a portable mp3 and aac player for a while

    I ended up sticking hacked firwmare on it just to see what all the fuss was about, and now I can use it to play just about any music and low enough spec video, as an ebook reader and a GPS unit, hasen't seen a game for probably 6 months.

    If Sony had this sort of stuff built in, it'd probably sell a bit better.

  • by cliffski ( 65094 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @03:48AM (#27684063) Homepage

    Its funny how pirates always claim all the games they have cracked are not worth buying.

    Its easy to assign something as worthless when you took it for free isn't it?

    Nobody is making psp games because people with an overblown sense of self-entitlement are pirating them as a matter of routine.
    Why would any sane dev just make a game that nobody would buy? do you work for free too?

  • Re:Emulation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @05:29AM (#27684517)

    WoW didn't become #1 out of sheer inertia (how?), it became #1 by doing MMORPGing better and in a way that the average joe could appreciate. That's why it didn't simply convert the EQ and UO players or whatever was on the MMO market before WoW, it converted non-MMO players (which may not actually have been playing any games before) into MMO players.

    Same for the Game Boy and DS, they became #1 by doing portable gaming better than the competition and by increasing the appeal of gaming (Game Boy: Tetris, DS: Nintendogs, Brain Age), bringing new non-gamers into the portable gaming market instead of attempting to convert home console users into portable gamers. The PSP didn't do that, it tried to expand Sony's home console monopoly (a monopoly is not completely unopposed, just without effective opposition) into the portable realm by offering the same things as the home console (a big advertised game was the GT4 PS2-PSP connectivity), forgetting that the home console market already has a better gaming system at home and its games were designed for playing at home, leaving the PSP with few unique selling points. From what I hear from Americans over there portable gaming isn't very big anyway because public transportation is pretty bad and you can't play a game on the commute when you're steering a car. The DS, even when played at home, still offers a unique experience with unique games that the hiome consoles don't even approach.

  • Re:Emulation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeBabcock ( 65886 ) <> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @08:40AM (#27685783) Homepage Journal

    I've been using suspend to play Daxter over the last several months in various situations.

    I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Patapon and Puzzle Quest as well. My wife beat both the latter games before I did even, spending hours certain that she must be almost done.

    To be honest, I quite like that Sony allows re-releases of older games (don't we usually complain that game companies do nothing with their old IP?), and creative games with no real interference (Flow, Flower, Calling all Cars, etc.)

    Sony doesn't require that every game be a mega-seller, and if you want to create a cool little art project game for a few thousand people, they're a good choice of who to deal with.

  • Re:Scapegoat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeBabcock ( 65886 ) <> on Thursday April 23, 2009 @08:43AM (#27685811) Homepage Journal

    What matters is fear of piracy. Its a huge financial commitment for a game dev to actually put the game out, market it, etc. and the high risk of having it pirated instead is a major issue.

  • by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:08AM (#27686809)

    The big difference between the DS and PSP is the target market. The PSP was targetted at gamers. Big mistake. Gamers know about piracy, and are becoming more and more accustomed to it by the minute.

    Sony, then, pitched their product at people who were never really going to buy all that much.

    Nintendo's product has found it's way into handbags and schoolbags. The kids get legitimate games as birthday presents, and the travelling woman picks up a random brain-trainer or somesuch while stuck in departures waiting for a delayed flight. There's money in that market....


  • Re:Emulation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Thursday April 23, 2009 @10:23AM (#27687021) Journal
    Ohh don't be such a twit.

    I mean, what the hell do you mean "Nintendo Won"?

    It wasn't a death-match. Sony has sold a lot of PSP's and made a bundle of cash on them. 50 million units is nothing to sneeze at.

    Just because someone is more successful than you, it doesn't mean THEY WON and YOU LOST.

    Get over yourself.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp