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Sony taking cues from Apple for next PlayStation Portable

post #1 of 26
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Sony executive Kazuo Hirai hinted Wednesday that the next generation of its PlayStation Portable handheld gaming device will learn from the popularity of Apple's iPhone and iPod touch devices, implementing new touch-based controls and broadening its appeal to casual gamers.

Though the executive's comments were low on details, Hirai, who oversees Sony's gaming subsidiary, teased the addition of new touch controls to the next-generation PlayStation Portable,The New York Times reports.

Hirai acknowledged that popular games on Apple and Google's mobile platforms differ from games for PlayStation devices. The games being played on Android and Apple platforms are fundamentally different from the world of immersive games that Sony Computer Entertainment, and PlayStation, aims for, said Hirai.

While Sony hopes to continue to appeal to the hardcore gaming fan base, Hirai also admitted that it will need to go after the new casual gaming base that Apple has helped to create. Were seeing people who never had an interest in games join the gaming population, he said.

Sony's plan to keep up with the Apple's growing gaming clout is to beat the iPhone maker at its own game. By incorporating touch controls alongside physical controls into the next PSP, Hirai hopes to appeal to both casual gamers and more traditional gamers.

Depending on the game, there are ones where you can play perfectly well with a touch panel, Hirai said. But you can definitely play immersive games better with physical buttons and pads. I think there could be games where youre able to use both in combination.

Hirai would neither confirm nor deny the development of the much-rumored Sony Ericsson PlayStation phone, but he did highlight the potential difficulties in differentiating a PlayStation smartphone from the PSP brand.

We dont want gamers to be asking, whats the difference between that and a PSP, Hirai said. We have to come up with a message that users will understand. It would have to be a product that keeps the PlayStations strengths intact.

Rumors of a PlayStation phone picked up steam when photos and videos emerged of an Android-powered Sony Ericsson smartphone with PlayStation capabilities. The device reportedly features physical controls as well as a multi-touch touchpad.

Gaming on iOS has received ample focus from Apple as it has driven increased revenue for the company. In September, Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed that the iPod touch had become "the number one portable game player in the world."

Apple isn't content to leave Sony to market to 'serious' gamers. "Infinity Blade," an impressive iOS game based on the Unreal Engine and targeted at hardcore gamers, was released on Dec. 9 after being highlighted by Jobs in September. "That's on a phone," Jobs said after the tech demo. "That's pretty remarkable.

In its first four days of availability, "Infinity Blade" made over $1.7 million in revenue.

Earlier this year, Flurry Analytics revealed that Apple's iOS had eaten into Sony's share of mobile gaming revenue, growing from just 5 percent in 2008 to 19 percent in 2009. Over that same period, Sony's share of U.S. portable game software revenue dropped from 20 percent to 11 percent.

More recent statistics paint an even bleaker portrait of the handheld gaming market's decline and the rise of the iOS platform. The proportion of games played on the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP has dropped off by 13 percent over the last year, according to a report by Interpret.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities sees the PSP2 losing out to iOS. "I think the big woody of the iPod Touch is cutting into the handheld market, I think the PSP is dead on arrival and I think the PSP2 is going to be dead on arrival. It looks to me like young kids are just as happy playing with an iPod Touch or a Nano, he said.

Sony's not the only gaming giant worried about Apple. In October, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime admitted that Apple is more of a serious threat than Microsoft and its Xbox gaming console. In May, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata reportedly called Apple the "enemy of the future."
post #2 of 26
Sony have a great library of content from games to music to video etc

The Eco system is there to support handheld devices, games consoles and TV's.

But...it's all over the place.

I tried Qriosity last night and it's just so fiddly to set-up the average Joe would just get turned off. The questions and answers support page should give you an indication on how difficult it is to set up.

I have a PS3, PSP and Bravia TV and access to all the Sony content I could ever need and yet I watch movies on an ATV, listen to music on my iPod/iPhone and play games on my iPad. I often combine all three and have NEVER read a manual. Apple make it easy for me to appear like I know what I'm doing.

These new devices from Sony are welcome but until HW and SW work in harmony and in a way the average Joe can understand, the full and true potential of Sony will never be realised.
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post #3 of 26
Sony can probably build a better portable device for gaming as button are far better than a touch screen for a lot of games. But Apple and other smartphones are always going to win because its on your phone. A lot of people don't by an iPhone because it plays games but buy games for it because they have the phone and it plays games.
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

Sony can probably build a better portable device for gaming as button are far better than a touch screen for a lot of games. But Apple and other smartphones are always going to win because its on your phone. A lot of people don't by an iPhone because it plays games but buy games for it because they have the phone and it plays games.

Exactly. They plan to do the same with aps on their set top boxes too I should think eventually.

And no mention of the DS in the article on touch screen gaming? Idiots...
post #5 of 26
Obama and Sony, prestigious time.
post #6 of 26
And who exactly cares about the PSP/ PSP2 besides 6 to 12 year olds? In Snootyville by 13 you had better be rocking an iPod touch or iPhone.
post #7 of 26
So I wonder how Sony will feel about selling competitors content in their store?

Unless they do they can never come close to matching iTunes.
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post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Underhill View Post

Sony have a great library of content from games to music to video

I think Sony and more serious gamers miss the point. I am a very casual gamer. I would never buy a dedicated gaming device. However I have 10 to 15 easy games on my iPhone.

There are a lot of people like me who want the occasional game on a device whose real purpose something other than gaming. When I think of PSP I think of gaming. When i think of iPhone I think of phone plus computing device plus games.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorotea View Post

I think Sony and more serious gamers miss the point. I am a very casual gamer. I would never buy a dedicated gaming device. However I have 10 to 15 easy games on my iPhone.

There are a lot of people like me who want the occasional game on a device whose real purpose something other than gaming. When I think of PSP I think of gaming. When i think of iPhone I think of phone plus computing device plus games.

Exactly. By its very definition a "casual gamer" would not purchase a dedicated game device.

Another example of the breathtakingly thick-headed thinking that passes for corporate strategy at Sony HQ. Really, they pay an executive's salary to the genius who came up with "let's build a dedicated portable game device for casual gamers?"
post #10 of 26
Credit to Sony for at least admitting what everyone does. Copy Apple.

That being said, dont forget Sony also makes phones. Its very possible their gaming device will have a phone component.
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

Credit to Sony for at least admitting what everyone does. Copy Apple.

That being said, dont forget Sony also makes phones. Its very possible their gaming device will have a phone component.

Oh, no doubt they will try to position the next device to better match up with iPhone and iPod Touch. But I think it will primarily be a game device unless they are prepared to abandon current PSP customers. In the end it will still be perceived as a hardcore portable gaming device and most people will pass on it. For further reference, look into Garmin' GPS phone.

Sony's portable game business is basically dead in the water. They just haven't admitted it yet. Likewise Nintendo's.
post #12 of 26
Prediction: Sony is out of the gaming hardware business in 5 or 6 years and developing apps for Apple's App Store, among other mobile platforms. Their losses in hardware will no longer be justifiable.

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post #13 of 26
Sony and other competitors will fail because they still see this all wrong do not manage to address the biggest issue with their current model all while spending money to emulate Apple except they won't really.

Apple really has stumbled onto it themselves and while they are doing the best they can to move content providers there, haven't completely moved that ball yet which is why they declare it to still be a hobby.

Sony will fail because Apple is the closest out there to creating a true system of micropayments. The gaming bit has nothing to do with casual versus hard core. It has much more to do with the fact that people do a return on investment analysis and spend their money accordingly. Most top grossing apps have been right around $.99. The companies like Sony don't want to believe this. They still want everyone to give them $10 for Tetris or maybe $8 to play a 10 year old version of Crash Bandikoot or whatever. The cheap apps help create a network effect that help move enough devices to make the numbers so large that even a marginal success makes huge dollars.

Apple understood this with music and the recording companies pushed back to get their singles above $.99. Their sales began falling immediately. You make something an impulse purchase and people will go for it without thinking. They've got to make the jump or keep getting beat.

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post #14 of 26
I seem to recall that some folks were reckoning that the rumored PS phone would be best thought of as the next generation PSP hardware, and that its status as a full on PSP with ubiquitous connectivity would change the portable gaming landscape. But this:

Quote:
We don’t want gamers to be asking, what’s the difference between that and a PSP

makes it pretty clear that Sony doesn't see a phone as the standard bearer. So how does Sony make the distinction? Lesser hardware on the phone? Smaller screen?

I suspect they intend something like the iPod Touch/iPhone differentiation, except with the PSP taking pride of place as the main event, and a PSP phone somewhat diminished to protect sales. Which is conceptually confusing in a world full of powerful smartphones, but then this is Sony, where internal logic frequently seems to be based on different criteria than the rest of the world.
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post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

So I wonder how Sony will feel about selling competitors content in their store?

Unless they do they can never come close to matching iTunes.

Well they are happy to in bandit.fm, so what makes you think they wouldn't in other systems?
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

Sony and other competitors will fail because they still see this all wrong do not manage to address the biggest issue with their current model all while spending money to emulate Apple except they won't really.

Apple really has stumbled onto it themselves and while they are doing the best they can to move content providers there, haven't completely moved that ball yet which is why they declare it to still be a hobby.

Sony will fail because Apple is the closest out there to creating a true system of micropayments. The gaming bit has nothing to do with casual versus hard core. It has much more to do with the fact that people do a return on investment analysis and spend their money accordingly. Most top grossing apps have been right around $.99. The companies like Sony don't want to believe this. They still want everyone to give them $10 for Tetris or maybe $8 to play a 10 year old version of Crash Bandikoot or whatever. The cheap apps help create a network effect that help move enough devices to make the numbers so large that even a marginal success makes huge dollars.

Apple understood this with music and the recording companies pushed back to get their singles above $.99. Their sales began falling immediately. You make something an impulse purchase and people will go for it without thinking. They've got to make the jump or keep getting beat.

Not sure I agree with that entirely. There's a limited number of apps that make a lot of money and when there cheap you really have to sell a lot of apps. On a 79p app, once you take off apples share and the tax your only left with around 35p, to cover just the cost of 1 developer for a week means selling 6000 copys and its going to take a lot more than that to produce.

Handheld gaming devices are a bit dead but there's still a definate place for expensive games.
post #17 of 26
is the only thing i want Sony to Copy from Apple, £32 for the average digital new title PSP Go game, and the mini's cost 3-5 times what they do in the Appstore.

Oh and little changes to the PSN, like screenshots or videos of the game your buying.
and stop charging game developers per GB download, they compress the games and it creates bugs like audio hiccups in Dante's inferno cut scenes.
post #18 of 26
Nintendo popularised touch screen portable gaming long, long before Apple did.

The next big gimmick in portable gaming will be 3D, so expect the 3DS to do very nicely for a while. Ultimately though convenience tends to win out, and with the iPhone being a phone and not an additional device to carry... that pretty much guarantees success in the end.

I'm surprised Sony seem so confused over the portable strategy though. They'll have the original PSP, the download only PSP, the PSP Android Phone, and the PSP2. How many different versions of each game will devs need to make? Will the PSP Phone run just Android games, or will it run PSP 1 or PSP 2 games?
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Prediction: Sony is out of the gaming hardware business in 5 or 6 years and developing apps for Apple's App Store, among other mobile platforms. Their losses in hardware will no longer be justifiable.

They may pull out of portable gaming but they won't leave home gaming. Right now it's a battle between Microsoft and Sony, and although MS are winning, there's not a huge amount in it. The PS3 has a great line-up for 2011 so who knows, they could pull out into the lead.
post #20 of 26
uhh, Nintendo's DS line is far from dead in the water. Sales of the DS are still continually phenominal all over the world, and Nintendo makes a premium on each one.
The 3DS is also going to take the world by storm. As much as people don't want it to.

I play games on my iPhone, but i don't like my fingers in the way of the action. The only real game that has stood the test of time on my phone is Angry Birds.
post #21 of 26
Unless PSP can make calls and the internet I don't think they have much of a chance. On the other hand they have much more gaming cred then iOS.
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post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

Unless PSP can make calls and the internet I don't think they have much of a chance. On the other hand they have much more gaming cred then iOS.

You have been able to make calls and access the internet off a PSP for years.
post #23 of 26
Other than the device itself, I think the main differing factor is the price of the software. A Nintendo DS game can cost as much as $40, whereas on the iPhone or iPod we are generally talking $10 max. The DS also has to contend with physical distribution costs and piracy, so I wouldn't be surprised to see these being factors that will be addressed in the next generation.

I would still want to see physical buttons on the next generation, but all the movement detectors of the new smart-phones will need to be there.
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by KazuoHirai

We dont want gamers to be asking, whats the difference between that and a PSP, Hirai said. We have to come up with a message that users will understand. It would have to be a product that keeps the PlayStations strengths intact.

I find this kind of funny considering the mess of other Sony products out there. I sit somewhere between most hardcore consumer electronics people and the average person who knows nothing. And for me, differentiating between what all their different skus do (in cameras, computers, TVs, phones, you name it) is somewhat daunting. It's a step in the right direction if Sony can finally get this part right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post

Oh, no doubt they will try to position the next device to better match up with iPhone and iPod Touch. But I think it will primarily be a game device unless they are prepared to abandon current PSP customers. In the end it will still be perceived as a hardcore portable gaming device and most people will pass on it. For further reference, look into Garmin' GPS phone.

Sony's portable game business is basically dead in the water. They just haven't admitted it yet. Likewise Nintendo's.

Is there such a thing out there as a hardcore portable gamer? That market has gotta be pretty small. Anyway, I agree that the portable game business for NIntendo and Sony have got to be looking grim right now.

However, I also agree with Hirai about buttons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jfanning View Post

You have been able to make calls and access the internet off a PSP for years.

Not sure about how natively you can make calls (can you?), but let's be honest here: the internet experience in a PSP was pretty lacking. Pushing that extremely slow cursor around on a screen that scrolled around? I guess at least it had a tab implementation. I actually am NOT saying that the iPod touch/iPhone is that much better; I think it's better but still not perfect/ideal.
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgkin View Post

Not sure about how natively you can make calls (can you?), but let's be honest here: the internet experience in a PSP was pretty lacking. Pushing that extremely slow cursor around on a screen that scrolled around? I guess at least it had a tab implementation. I actually am NOT saying that the iPod touch/iPhone is that much better; I think it's better but still not perfect/ideal.

The poster I responded to said...

Quote:
Unless PSP can make calls and the internet I don't think they have much of a chance.

I have skype installed on my PSP, I can make phone calls with it.

I have an internet browser on my PSP, I can connect to the internet.

The PSP can do both, regardless of how poorly it is implemented.
post #26 of 26
How many people posting here have actually played Infinity Blade? FYI it's horrendous. There's still nothing on the iPhone that comes close to offering the kind of gameplay you get from games like Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker or Monster Hunter, definitely not anything with a $.99 price tag. There are several problems with the current iOS devices, such as lack of physical controls, which Apple can easily fix with a peripheral, the price structure which limits the kind of budgets and thus types of games that are feasible on the platform, and memory and bandwidth limitations that place barriers on the size of games. iOS devices began as iPods and branched into gaming, and it definitely shows.

Oddly enough, Sony tried the reverse process with the original PSP. They made a gaming device that branched out into media and online connectivity, and it too obviously shows. Although this is mostly due to CPU and memory limitations from 2004, and I expect PSP2 to be a much better media and internet device. Like WP7 they can also leverage their online gaming services in a way that makes a real difference to existing customers in the living room. If the new PSP initially only appeals to hardcore gamers, that's still enough to consider the device a success. There were enough hardcore gamers out there to make the DS and PSP profitable, and those who think these people are going to switch to iOS devices, at least in their current state, for their portable gaming fix are simply delusional. BTW most of these people are significantly older than 12. If after securing their base, either the 3DS or PSP2 can make incremental progress into the media player/app market then that's even more of a win. I don't think either, Nintendo in particular, will unseat Apple at what it does best, but then again Apple has failed to do the same against Sony and Nintendo. Also I think Sony's chances of competing with Apple at media, which it currently has both the content and the delivery system for, are much better than Apple suddenly "getting it" when it comes to gaming.

Long story short, iOS hasn't yet endangered the traditional gaming portable, and it's probably easier to make a gaming portable that does media and apps than an iOS device that does serious gaming.
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