In an effort to better position itself against the growing threat of the iPod Touch, Sony announced this week that the next version of the PSP will allow users to download content directly to their device without having to mess around with any cartridges or discs.
Scheduled to open for business on October 1, PSP users will be able to purchase popular iPhone games such as Fieldrunners and Hero of Sparta, as Sony specifically made a point to reach out to developers of some of the more popular iPhone titles. Though only 15 titles will be available on launch, Sony noted that the list of downloadable apps will soon grow to include 50 popular software titles.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how successful this initiative is for Sony in light of all the success it’s brought for Apple. While it may be easy to assume that multi-platform games will sell just as well, relatively speaking, on the PSP as they do on the iPhone, it’s important to consider the demographic differences between the users of each platform. While the PSP tends to attract the hardcore gamer looking to add a little mobility to their gaming lives, apps on the iPhone and iPod Touch have done so well precisely because they offer a vast array of attractive and useful titles to non-gamers.
The recent announcement by Sony is undoubtedly a win for PSP owners, and game enthusiasts in general, but unless PSP developers start raking in the dough from strong downloadable software sales, Sony might soon find that Apple’s lead in this particular market is insurmountable.
The fact of the matter is that for most people, the PSP and iPhone/iPod Touch are completely different products, and it’s safe to assume that anyone serious aboug gaming won’t be swayed by iPhone titles on the PSP – after all, they would have never switched to an iPhone/iPod Touch to begin with.
The Apple Blog writes:
Will it affect Apple’s App Store sales? Yes, because I (and gamers like me) will probably wait for a PSP Mini release of most titles, even if it’s available for both platforms. Will it kill the iPhone as a gaming device? No way, because the PSPgo will have a much smaller audience than the iPhone, and casual gamers will continue to play on their phones, mostly because many of them won’t buy a handheld gaming console.
Actually, we think there’s a strong case to be made for Sony’s announcement having no discernible effect on app store sales. If anything, the fact that you’re more likely to carry around your iPhone/iPod Touch with you at all times (or at least more frequently than a PSP) seems to indicate that if users have to choose just one platform to download a game for, they’ll choose Apple’s products. Or, they might end up buying the game on both platforms, in which case developers will be smiling from ear to ear.