A Modest Proposal for Sony’s PSP, and the Marketing Thereof

By  |  Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Nintendo and Sony reacted predictably to the iPad’s debut last week — that is, they blew it off.

Sony’s comments, in particular, deserve scrutiny, because PSP sales fell further last year than any other console. It’s harder to find fault with Nintendo’s remarks when the Nintendo DS continues to outsell every gaming machine on the market. John Koller, Sony Computer Entertainment’s director of hardware marketing, said Apple’s gaming presence has been “a net positive” for Sony. “When people want a deeper, richer console, they start playing on a PSP,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Sony’s been saying this for a while. The company believes that the PSP offers deep gaming experiences while the iPhone is shallow. That is increasingly less true as games like Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars end up on Apple’s devices. Besides, ignoring consumers who liken portable games to snacks isn’t wise. That’s probably why Sony introduced PSP Minis, a downloadable catalog of cheap, small-scale games, albeit more expensive than the same games on the iPhone.

So here’s what I propose: Instead of trying to position the PSP as the major leagues to the iPhone’s farm team, Sony should exploit the one real advantage it has. I’m talking about buttons.

We’re entering an age where buttons are marginalized. The Wii threw out many of them. Nintendo DS games often focus on the touch screen. Microsoft’s Project Natal will do away with buttons entirely. Play any console game that’s been ported to the iPhone, and you’ll miss the D-Pad’s tactile feedback. Someone’s got to stand up against the erosion of gaming’s most time-honored tradition.

It might as well be Sony, whose PSP is blissfully set in its ways. Mr. Koller, I propose that you ditch the silly marketing jargon and say something that gamers really understand: “Button mashers, welcome home.”


Read more: , , ,

3 Comments For This Post

  1. Ben Norman Says:

    I completely agree! I’ve yet to find a ported game or even style of game that was created for the older consoles that I like on the iPhone. The only ones that work well are the purposely built apps which rely on the accelerometer. Using the screen as a button just doesn’t work as well.

    Saying that I think things the Natal will have their place, as long as that place is alongside a gaming pad. It should never be used as a complete replacement to analogue sticks like the Wii’s controller was.

  2. L1A Says:

    assassin’s creed and gta: china wars are much much better with real d-pad instead of the on-screen one. anyways i think all 3 have different markets most of the time. between ds and psp i only buy the exclusives, if it’s on all 3 platforms i get the psp one.

  3. Tech Says:

    I don’t think anyone uses the PSP anymore.

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Sony Phone and Tablet Will Take on Microsoft, Too Says:

    […] Just one question: If Sony’s planning on bringing Playstation games to a tablet and smartphone, what does that mean for sweet, sweet buttons? […]

  2. Sony Cheers for Buttons Ahead of Playstation Move Launch Says:

    […] like Epic Games get onto Apple’s platform. When I said in February that Sony should adopt a pro-button marketing stance for the PSP, I was half-kidding, but if Sony’s willing to go there for the Playstation Move, […]

  3. The PSP2 Comes Into Focus Says:

    […] yes, Sony is taking up the narrative that buttons are irreplaceable for certain kinds of games. It’s certainly better than arguing that smartphone gaming exists […]