Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Everything Wrong With The PSP...And Its Commercials

Kevin Butler? Proof that a giant company like Sony can come back into the public limelight after years of abuse. Then again, all the Playstation 3 really needed was some good marketing. It's a more powerful, albeit more expensive, game console than the Xbox 360. And it offers just about everything the 360 has, often for less. And the only major region the PS3 has undersold the 360 thus far is in the US.

The Playstation Portable is...well, in a word, screwed. It sold well in one country: Japan. There are four models, three of which are basically identical and a fourth that's the PSPGo, which sold horrendously. It's a five and a half year old portable console. Hell, most smartphones these days are 3-4 times more powerful than the PSP. So why is Sony wasting their time with it?

But let's get back to that later. Like Sony's PS3 brand (yes, the console is its own brand), Sony decided to use the same marketing tactic to attack their PSP problem through a funny, somewhat outrageous character. Marcus, the 10-14 year old black kid who touts his silver PSP does a good job. He's funny, pretentious, quick, and most importantly to Sony, right. Just like KB before him, who only described himself as greater than the PS3, Marcus is almost always truthful with his statements.

Which, for the PSP, comes at a fault. These videos show exactly what Sony's problem is, and chances are they don't even see it.

Here, a younger brother struggles to play a game on his PSP, and considering the look on his face because of extreme boredom, and his older brother is playing instead of spending time with his girlfriend? Playing on a PSP?! Anyone who owns a PSP knows that you do not do this. Sure, on a home console, playing online with friends...but the PSP is a portable device. It's made to pick up and put down immediately. Sure, Sony may be saying that PSP games are so good that you can play them like console games, but that's not what we see. We see an idiot ignoring his hot girlfriend by playing a PSP. Good job, Sony.

Next, we see an unshaven, disheveled, almost psychotic looking guy playing a PSP. Can someone say "image problem"? Right off the bat, we assume this is what a PSP user looks like. Then, he's been playing a game, albeit one of the best games to release on the PSP, for 40 hours straight since he bought it the day before. Is this who we want to be? Same positive message as last time, but the negative message is much stronger. Play a PSP, and you'll be waiting at the bus to go to work, play games for ridiculous amounts of time, and be a complete loser. And to top it all off, Marcus says he wants to be just like that one day, but without all the bad qualities. With only 24 hours in a day, that's a physical impossibility. You're better off playing World of Warcrack Warcraft.

This is perhaps the only logical one, at least  until the very end, when Marcus pulls out  flip phone. With about 23% of Americans owning smartphones, compared to 17-18% of PSPs sold in the US, and the number of smartphone users increasing every day. The PSP can't say the same. Sure, PSP may have more "hardcore" games than the iPhone, but it's just a matter of time before that changes. And with the thousands of iPhone developers, that change can happen any minute.

So, what's wrong with the PSP? It's a crippled horse. It never made it far out of the stable outside of Japan, and it's been on life support for the past few years. UMD discs failed, the PSPGo failed, and the PSP is simply too old and slow to compete anymore. It doesn't matter if Kevin Butler himself tried to sell us a new PSP, we wouldn't buy the old device. No one in their right mind would buy a five year old portable game console these days when some dumbphones are more powerful.

If Sony wants to make an impact with the PSP, they've got to move to another platform. The possible Android-based PSP phone would be flying leap in the right direction. Otherwise, these commercials are just trying to create a zombie cure. If Will Smith couldn't do it, how can Sony?