Portable consoles have proved themselves to be a success over the years, something that can easily be seen with Nintendo's several handheld consoles. Seeing the possibility of taking over the handheld market, Sony decided in 2003 that it was time to start working on a portable PlayStation. The console would incorporate several features that would make this console unique. This included the UMD optical disc format as its primary storage medium and connectivity to the internet.
Although it didn't manage to sell as much as most of Nintendo's handhelds, the PlayStation Portable's sales numbers can still be considered very strong, proving that Sony had what it takes to challenge this market. Unfortunately, the PlayStation Portable will soon draw its last breath, but before that, let's take a look back at its history and emerge in nostalgia.
The development of the PlayStation Portable was first announced at E3 2003, but we would see the console one year later, in a Sony Press Conference before E3 2004. At the time, the console was praised for its multimedia and computing capabilities, with Jose Villeta, Sony's CEO at that time, calling the console the "Walkman of the 21st Century."
The console was first released in Japan on December 12, 2004, selling over 200,000 units in the first day. It would come to the West the following year, arriving in March in North America, and September in Europe. Just like in Japan, the PlayStation Portable was a success in the West, with Sony claiming that over 500,000 units had been sold in its first two days in North America and nearly 1 million units in Europe during the first week. Until very recently, it was also had the accolade of being the best-selling console at launch in the United Kingdom, a record that was broken recently with the release of the PlayStation 4.
The PlayStation Portable, unlike its "˜partner' the PS2, wasn't the start of many franchises. Instead, the PlayStation Portable was a big target for several spin-offs from various Sony exclusive franchises, including Final Fantasy, Ratchet & Clank, God of War, Metal Gear Solid, among many others. In addition, the console was also the perfect choice to replay your favorite PlayStation titles, and take them everywhere you wanted. However, even with a wide variety of titles and exclusives, the console was outmatched by Nintendo DS.
In order to boost sales, Sony released a thinner, lighter, remodeled version of the PlayStation Portable, the PSP-2000, in September 2007. Other new features of this version included improved WLAN modules, a brighter LCD, and 64MB RAM. Sony's risk managed to fulfill their objectives, and the sales increased across the globe. This model was quickly replaced by the PSP-3000 in the following year, with its main features in comparison to the PSP-2000 being a new and improved screen, and an inbuilt microphone.
In 2009, Sony announced yet another model of the PlayStation Portable, the PSP Go. However, this model would be totally different from its predecessors. Unlike previous models, the PSP Go didn't have a UMD drive, instead it featured internal flash memory and a memory stick. This meant that in order to play games, players would need to download the titles from the PlayStation Store. The PSP Go would also feature Bluetooth functionality and a much smaller screen. The last model that Sony made was a budget-focused model, PSP-E1000, which was made available in October 2011. This model didn't feature Wi-Fi capabilities or microphone, and used mono speakers instead of stereo.
However, Sony's Portable's success was plagued with piracy issues. A few years after its release, hackers were able to create custom software that had ISO loaders included. This allowed users to load copies of PSP titles from the memory stick. It comes as of no surprise that this affected the sales figures of games for the PSP. One such example was Dissidia: Final Fantasy, a title that sold 1.8 million units, but was alleged to have been downloaded illegally more than 5 million times. Sony tried to fight against this with constant firmware updates, unfortunately, this would only work temporarily.
Returning to the present, with the PS Vita now available on the market and in full swing, the PSP's life cycle is near its end. Sony's portable's productions has already been discontinued in Japan and North America, and the same will happen in Europe sometime this fall. It has been over a year since a PSP game was released in the West, and Rewrite, a game released exclusively on Japan, was the last title to be released for the console. With the PlayStation Portable's tenth anniversary right around the corner, it's clear that it will be its last. The PlayStation Portable sold 80 million units, selling nearly as much as the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Game Boy Advance. A total of 809 games were made available for the console, with Monster Hunter Portable 3rd being the best-selling title with 4.8 million copies sold.
What are your thoughts about the PlayStation Portable? Do you think it was a good system? Was it a good experience for Sony? Do you think that the PlayStation Vita will make a comeback and surpass its predecessor? Share your thoughts in the comments below.