Yesterday, we learned the PSP had managed to top the Wii and DS during a one-week sales period in Japan. This is extremely significant, especially considering the stranglehold the Wii has had on that region, and the fact the DS was once outselling the PSP by a depressing 4:1 margin. But it's getting more and more obvious that Sony's handheld is staging an impressive turnaround, and that was the subject of conversation when Game Informer spoke to Sony's PSP senior marketing manager, John Koller.
According to Koller, PSP sales are up 85% over last April, and not surprisingly, the company is attributing this spike to the slimmer, lighter PSP-2000 model they launched late last year. They say it helps target a younger demographic, and more users are associating the PSP with Internet browsing, movies, music and other non-gaming leisure activities. Here's what Koller had to say about it:
"We're finding in a lot of our research that the consumer's using the PSP because of its gaming but then also because it has these other elements as some of the other devices they own, but they don't want to bring four or five devices with them in their pocket. The PSP solves all of those multifunctional demands in one product.
It's primarily centred as a gaming machine. That said, the multifunctional aspects differentiate it from any competitive platform — and that's including the DS and the iPod, the Zune and the Zen and all the other handheld products that are available in the market, inclusive of mobile phones."
As he says, don't think for a second that Sony is shifting focus away from gaming for the PSP. Koller still believes they need to continue to "work hard" in the game area, and they need more titles like God of War: Chains of Olympus and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII to continue being successful. Furthermore, he noted the importance of original games, which means he's not so interested in more PS2 ports. As for what we can expect from the PSP in 2008, Koller talked about the US-only God of War bundle package, new peripherals (keyboard, camera, GPS, etc.), and a few big announcements at this year's E3.
We're not sure what those announcements might entail, but we do know that Sony wants to enhance the connectivity and functionality of the PS3/PSP duality. Overall, the PSP has risen from a punch line to…well, punching the DS in the eye. It's now a fully realized multimedia and gaming portable device, and one that consumers around the world are starting to recognize. More on the PSP as time goes on…