After months of speculation that the Sony PlayStation Portable would not appear until 2005, Sony have just announced its release in Japan on 12 December, just ten days after Nintendo DS, and at a price that is much lower than expected.
The PSP, Sony’s entry into handheld games machine market will be available in two flavours. The normal edition PSP at $186, (~ £101, €145) will include the handheld itself, an AC adapter, and a battery pack. A value pack $232, (~£126, €181) will be the normal pack plus a 32MB Memory Stick Duo, a set of headphones with a remote control, and a carrying case.
The PSP is more than a mere games machine, it can also be used for watching movies and listening to music files – but not just yet. The standard for films is still under discussion with several movie studios, and a movie line-up and download service won’t be announced for several months. It’s a pity this last task was not completed before announcing the launch, as doubtless much of PSP’s success will depend on it, but we suspect it will be down to rights and DRM protection.
Sony denies that competition from Nintendo DS influenced the PSP price, offering several other plausible reasons. One being that the price was possible because about half of PSP’s parts, including the main computer chip, are produced internally by Sony. Another being that it was apparently set, based on an informal survey of Sony officials who were asked what they would pay for the PSP if they were going to buy it. Whatever the reason, Sony doesn’t expect to make a profit on PSP until well into next year, obviously being prepared to sacrifice it for strong PSP branding.
There will be 21 games available for the PSP launch, including high-profile third-party titles such as Electronic Arts’ “Need for Speed Underground” racing gaming and Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Konami’s “Metal Gear Acid”, and Sega Corporation’s Puyo Pop Fever – Puzzle
In Japan, Sony plans to sell 500,000 PSP machines by the end of this year, and 1 million by 31st March. Dates and prices for the United States and Europe have not yet been set, although overseas sales are being planned for the first quarter of 2005.