Click to viewDual emotions of surprise and confusion hit our faces when we heard that Sony's redesigned PSP-2000 had shipped 1 million units in Japan in just about two months. Wasn't the DS the portable gaming machine everyone preferred, especially in Japan? Then there's the fact that DS sales (in Japan) might actually be slowly declining, allowing the slightly thinner and slightly more silver PSP to just about catch up. So we did a little research into the portable gaming space and—this is news to you as it is to us—came up with eight reasons why the PSP could be poised to overtake the behemoth money printing machine that is Nintendo's DS.
• 1 Million new PSPs were sold in Japan in around two months. This first point got us curious as to why the PSP was doing so well. Was it because of the redesign, which lead to 250k sales in four days, or has it actually become time (thanks to various factors listed below) for the PSP to catch up, if not surpass, the Nintendo DS. This point alone wouldn't make for a strong argument, but we've found seven more.
• Sales figures for PSPs are going up, sales figures for DS Lites are going down (in Japan). According to the Japanese sales charts Kotaku loves to drool over, the last four weeks for the DS looked like this: 76243, 78552, 78854, 76069. The last four weeks for the PSP looked like this: 59792, 59714, 58964, 65609. DS sales seems to have plateaued (the slight dip probably means nothing), whereas the PSP sales got a nice spike this past week. Has everyone over there finished the new Zelda game already?
• PSP actually has more good games to play. According to metacritic, the site that aggregates major game reviews, the PSP has 53 games that are rated 80 (out of 100) or higher, whereas the DS only has 44. Although the DS has three games that score higher than any of the PSP's (Mario Kart DS, Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass), on the whole it seems the PSP gets you better bang for your buck.
• The PSP has better PS3 integration compared with the DS and Wii. The recent upgrades to both the PS3 and PSP firmware allow for much, much better compatibility between the two than compared with the DS and the Wii. Remotely starting up your PS3 may be a neat gimmick, but they've also got remote play, which lets you access videos, music, and even games wirelessly through your PSP whether you're at home or outdoors at a Wi-Fi access point. There's been talk of using the DS as a Wii controller in many games, but the most we've seen is transferring Pokemon to your Wii or using the Wii to download DS demos—a function that the PS3/PSP also has.
• The PSP has better media capabilities. Ignoring the failed UMD movie initiative, you can still use the PSP's giant screen to play back movies off of your memory stick. There's also picture viewing, music playing, as well as remote play off your PS3, which lets you stream content from home.
• The PSP has better add-ons. Some of these are only in Japan, but the add-on camera, GPS, TV Tuner, and LocationFree TV give you four things to do with your PSP when you're not playing games.
• The PSP actually sold as well the PS2. We hate to bring up sales numbers again as proof that the PSP is picking up steam, but as J Allard famously found out, the PSP sold just as well as the PS2, hitting 10 million units within a 12-month span (give or take).
• Sony's planning a PSP Phone. Whether the PSP phone will actually support PSP games is uncertain and possibly unlikely, but the mere fact that there's a PSP phone that supports some of the PSP's functions and has some PSP connectivity will be enough to give both platforms a boost.
Does this mean that we think the DS is doomed? Certainly not. If you look at our gaming distribution between DS time and PSP time this past Thanksgiving holiday, the time spent on the DS dwarfed the time spent on the PSP about 1,000 to 1. And the DS just sold 653,000 units over Thanksgiving.
We just think this means the PSP's time has come to step out from behind the DS's shadow as the uglier, fatter, less fun cousin and show itself off as the full-featured portable media powerhouse that it really is.