Sony Boss: PSP Confused Gamers

By Pete Haas 2011-11-29 09:56:06 discussion comments
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As Sony prepares to release the PlayStation Vita, they're looking back at the way they handled the PSP's launch. SCEE president and CEO Jim Ryan says that their approach with the PSP was flawed and they'll fix the issue with the Vita.

"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," Ryan told 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."

Make no mistake - the Vita is still a multimedia device. It can play up to 5 hours of video or 9 hours of music. The handheld also features 3G or Wi-Fi connectivity (depending on the model) so you can browse the web or use social networking apps like Facebook and Twitter. The difference between the Vita and the PSP, though, is that Sony will be promoting Vita primarily as a gaming system.

"We’ve been a lot more single minded and much more focused in our positioning of Vita. 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."

Ryan said that they're making sure that Vita games have distinct features, so gamers don't feel like they're playing a substandard version of console games.

"The other thing would be that we learned that what consumers didn’t really appreciate 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.”

That was always my hang-up about the PSP. It was trying to offer console-style gaming on a handheld device...but these games didn't measure up to their console counterparts. Hopefully the dual thumbsticks of the Vita narrow the gap a bit. The touchscreen and rear touchpad of the device should spur some additional innovations from developers as well.

The Vita will launch later this month in Japan. It hits Europe and North America on February 22nd.
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