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Sony says the PSP confused people

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Sony Europe’s Jim Ryan, speaking of the ageing, soon-to-be-replaced PSP said that the company’s attempts to market the device as multimedia device instead of a gaming-focused one confused people. That won’t happen with the Vita, he says, because this time they’re punting it as a gaming machine.

"I think with PSP we tried to position it as a rather broad multimedia device. We talked a lot in the early days of PSP about its video playback functionality its use as a music device and a host of other multimedia functionality that it had," he explained to OPM UK.

"I think this time we’ve realised that perhaps ended up confusing consumers, and they weren’t quite sure what the device was really all about. So this time the Vita does all of that stuff that we talked about on PSP, and it does it a lot better."

That’s not to say the Vita won’t be multimedia capable – it’ll still play videos and music, have a web browser  and some interesting social media integration, but "what it does best is play games."

"We’ve been a lot more single minded and much more focused in our positioning of Vita,” he said. “We’re saying that this is primarily a gaming device. It has been developed from the ground up as a gaming device. What it does best is play games.

"The other thing would be that we learned that what consumers didn’t really appreciate [about PSP] was, in many cases, getting ports of PS2 and then PS3 games for their PSP. They said if that’s what you’re going to do, I’ll just play the game on PS2 or PS3. We’re helped here by the nature of the interfaces that are available on the Vita. What we learned is that the gaming experiences need to be unique and differentiated for gamers to be able to get into them."

I can appreciate that. It’s certainly true that there was very little – especially early on – that differentiated the PSP from older consoles – and it was home to endless ports of games that we’d already played. It’s one of the things that worked so well in the Nintendo DS’ favour; games were largely unique and specifically tooled for the platform. People (and I’m certainly speaking for myself here) would rather play console-esque titles on an actual console, keeping handhelds for more quick-fix gaming sessions – something smartphones have all but cornered the market on. While I don’t think dedicated handhelds are going the way of the dodo just yet, they certainly have more of an uphill battle thanks to always-on-you hardware and cheap downloadable games.

Last Updated: November 30, 2011

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