Posted By: wraggster
Much of the PlayStation 2ís ubiquitous success could be attributed, not to its games or graphics, but to the fact that the machine doubled as an inexpensive and stylish DVD player. In 2004 convergence was the new slogan in video game hardware manufacturing and marketing. Games? Games were no longer enough, so the story went. As such, Ken Kutaragiís focus when developing the PlayStation Portable was primarily on what the system could do when it wasnít playing video games.It was this focus that drove the decision to use an optical media disc as the systemís storage media, Sony devising the Universal Media Disc as a kind of mini-DVD on which both games and movies could be stored and viewed. To emphasize the cinematic ideology behind the system, the company placed a lavish 4.3 inch widescreen display at the centre of the handheld, one that, with 16,770,000 colours, appeared to have skipped several steps ahead on the evolutionary scale to any handheld games technology on the market.When Sony revealed the handheldís design at E3 2004 and attendees had the chance to see the machine while running, the curious hardware innovations of Nintendoís rival DS seemed irrelevant. The PSP was a cinema in your palm.This feature is an extract from Simon Parkinís book, An Illustrated History of 151 Videogames.
The feverish excitement surrounding the machineís Japanese launch on December 12, 2004 seemed at odds with Japanís plunge into recession. Chinese importers employed the services of Akihabaraís homeless to buy up units to sell back home for astonishing profit. 171,963 units were sold on launch day with nearly 500,000 units shifted by the New Year.But the PSPís initial signs of success did not bear out in the long run. At the time few would have bet against Sonyís decision to pack the most advanced technology into their first handheld in favour of Nintendoís decision to eschew power in favour of what were ostensibly seen as gimmicks. But in commercial terms Nintendoís courting of non-traditional game audiences paid off as the DS comfortably overtook the PSP in sales.The final boot in the PSPís prospects (in commercial terms, at least) came on June 15, 2005 when hackers disassembled the PSPís firmware and released a hacked version for download on the internet. When installed the new software allowed PSP owners to run homebrew software and pirated games from the memory stick Ė with a clutch of emulators available for playing out-of-print games as well as titles currently on the market. The homebrew sceneís gain was Sonyís loss, as rampant piracy eroded game sales and disheartened developers abandoned the system en masse.