The PSP has been a rather unusual piece of hardware for Sony, on one hand, it's selling fairly well, over 50-million PSP's have been sold worldwide since the system first arrived in December of 2004, making it four and a half years that the unit has been on sale. But where the PSP has struggled has been software sales, compare the PlayStation 2 and the amount of million-sellers it had with an install base of 50 million owners, and compare the amount of million sellers the PSP has now…and it's a rather stark difference. But there's a reason for this, explains Sony's Peter Dille in an interview with Gamasutra, who also mentions how developers almost abandoned the PSP as a whole at one point.
"[18 months ago, developers were] just about ready to jump off the cliff and pull support for the platform," Dille states. Pretty shocking words, to be honest. But Sony's solution to this problem was to stop random PSP ports and put more emphasis on building higher quality games that fit and make sense for the platform, games such as Resistance Retribution, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Assassin's Creed, and Rock Band.
Dille went on to talk about how piracy and other unauthorized upgrades made to the PSP have hurt the system's success in terms of software sales. "I'm convinced and we're convinced that piracy has taken out a big chunk of our software sales on PSP," Dille states. "It's been a problem that the industry has to address together; it's one that I think the industry takes very seriously, but we need to do something to address this because it's criminal what's going on, quite frankly."
"It's not good for us, but it's not good for the development community. We can look at data from BitTorrent sites from the day Resistance: Retribution goes on sale and see how many copies are being downloaded illegally, and it's frankly sickening. We are spending a lot of time talking about how we can deal with that problem."
On the subject of custom firmwares and other loopholes found in the PSP's firmware, Dille states that there is potential for 50 million PSP owners to modify their firmwares and play pirated games off their memory stick. "Those numbers are correct," says Dille. "There's a lot of hardware out there; toothpaste is out of the tube. We're not going to get that hardware back into the toothpaste container."
"I'm not naive, but I do think that most people are inherently honest," he says. "We learned a lot from the music business, and it became so easy and so common to download illegal music — everyone was doing it. It's almost like people lost sight with the fact that, well, "If everyone's doing it, then it can't be that bad."
"But, it actually is bad; it's bad for the platform. Again, I'm not saying that that's a magic wand; I think that we have to make sure from a technological perspective that it's not as easy as it is to do that."
Read the full interview with Peter Dille, Senior Vice President of Marketing SCEA, over at Gamasutra. It's a good read.