Consumers may not have taken to the PSPgo, but that’s just fine with Sony.
Sony’s PSPgo, released in October 2009, got rid of its predecessor’s physical UMD drive and went digital download only for game purchases. Though official sales numbers have never been released (which should show us something right there), they’re presumed to be less than optimal. Sony believes that this lack of sales means the handheld was successful.
Wait… what? That’s according to Sony Computer Entertainment Europe president and CEO Andrew House, who told MCV that the whole point of the PSPgo’s release was apparently so Sony could learn. “One of the reasons we launched PSPgo was to understand where consumer behavior was going,” he said. “We were getting signals from consumers that this was the kind of device that they wanted. But we need to recognize that consumers like their packaged media library.”
He also stated: “It was introduced in a mature life cycle to learn more about what the consumer wanted and we’ve definitely learned a lot. Is that measured by success in sales? I don’t think it is.” So basically, the PSPgo’s failure to sell matters not due to Sony’s successful learning experience. I hope it wasn’t a too expensive one.
I’m not totally buying this. Large companies don’t develop major products just to see if people will buy them, they do it because they want to make money. While this may or may not have been what happened with the PSPgo, House is indicating that it pretty much didn’t sell, and Sony giving away 10 free games with the system seems to be a sign of this as well. But, according to House, this just means that consumers aren’t ready to go fully digital yet, right?
To an extent, he might be a horse with the blinders on, because the PSPgo is afflicted with more than the lack of a physical media drive in my personal view. For whatever reason, games bought online shamefully cost the same amount as their physical in-store counterparts. The PSPgo was, and still is, priced at $249, a very expensive price point considering its capabilities. These two facts probably kept more PSPgo systems out of gamers’ hands, rather than purely because of the focus on digital distribution. But hey, at least Sony sees the product’s launch in a positive light.