PS we love you

Sony’s foray into the handheld market is still going strong, and with the sunny summer months offering the perfect opportunity for some al fresco gaming – not to mention the need to stave off boredom during those arduous journeys abroad – MCV took the opportunity to talk to Sony about the future of PSP.

We asked Claire Backhouse, product manager for SCE UK, about how the platform holder plans to take full advantage of what could be a strong summer for the handheld.

PSP has enjoyed a strong start to the year with a number of high profile software releases, such as Patapon, God of War: Chains of Olympus and most recently, Everybody’s Golf 2. In addition to a strong catalogue of first party UMD titles, we also have the PC store, which offers a broad range of content, from full games (Killzone Liberation, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six and WipEout Pure), to demos, videos, themes and add-ons,”

Backhouse told MCV.

It’s also worth remembering that PSP offers much more that just gaming to the handheld market, with movie, music, photo viewing and wi-fi connectivity and functionality right out of the box.”

So are consumers getting the message that the PSP offers something very different to the DS? Backhouse told MCV that Sony believed people were becoming more educated on the subject.

From our research we have found that awareness of the new functions such as taking photos with Go!Cam and remote play with the PS3 has increased. Also, these consumers are using the newer functions more frequently as well,” she said.

Multiplayer gaming is on the increase, as is remote play with PlayStation 3 and accessing the internet on the PSP. Go!Cam launched last year and has been very popular in the UK with much consumer interest and very healthy sales.”

The Go!Range is one of Sony’s innovative lines that takes full advantage of the PSP’s hardware, as Backhouse explains: The Go!Range is a catalogue of peripherals and services for the PSP that adds voice and video calling, GPS navigation, and an entertainment content download service in partnership with Sky.”

Backhouse also cited the relationship between the PS3 and PSP as a key part of future plans: In addition to the traditional software and peripherals marketing we’ll be running, there’ll be substantial activity to promote PSP’s ever expanding relationship with PlayStation 3.

"At present, remote play functionality allows consumers to browse and manage content stored on their PS3, using their PSP, via a wi-fi connection.

With the launch of PlayTV for PS3 later this year, not only will you be able to watch live TV on your PSP from anywhere in the world, you’ll also be able to set-up new recordings, manage your program library and watch any recordings you have made.”

Titles like SingStar Vol.2 will also benefit from the relationship, where PSP users will be able to browse and download new songs on the go using a wireless internet connection.

We asked the Sony product manager which titles retailers should be watching out for the rest of the year:

The key software titles we have coming out this year for PSP include Echochrome, Buzz The Master Quiz, Secret Agent Clank and LocoRoco 2.”

Backhouse added that PSP is a firm fixture in the company’s plans: We will continue to innovate and push the multimedia capabilities of the console, primarily looking to expand on the connectivity with PS3 and, of course, the PlayStation Network via the PC Store.

PSP remains an important focus for SCEE, and with a strong selection of triple-A titles, peripherals and services, we believe it will continue to be a very attractive proposition to new and existing consumers, for a very long time to come.”

That wide variety of strong software titles, including mass market titles like Buzz and SingStar and more traditional fare like Secret Agent Clank, bode well for the future.

And with a marketing blitz to educate more consumers about what the PSP capabilities and the continuing development of the relationship with big brother PS3, the future of the PSP at UK retail has plenty of promising potential ahead.

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