Speaking with us in the closing moments of E3 in Los Angeles, PSP brand manager John Koller argued PSP as primed for a strong 2008.
Faced with increasing competition from Nintendo DS, mobile, and now iPhone, he contends the portable will succeed by playing into "broader cultural trend for content on the go".
High-profile titles like God of War: Chains of Olympus and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII have spurred purchases of the handheld in North America. Additionally, the introduction of new colours has made the platform more attractive to new consumers. "It simply has the best gaming experiences around."
Although PSP is first and foremost designed for games, Koller pointed out the multimedia functionality of the portable as crucial to its success. Remote play functionality, Skype, video content via the PlayStation Store, and other features set it apart from DS and other handhelds. "It's been a perfect confluence of events resulting in our performance," Koller observed.
When questioned on how Sony plans on driving continued sales of the system, Koller mentioned "the need to keep adding new features, new functionality." Adding GPS is part of that plan and he confirmed that it will receive a release in North America within the next nine months. (The Go!Explore GPS unit has already launched in Europe.)
PSP has always faced fierce competition from Nintendo DS, yet Koller remains optimistic about Sony's prospects through 2009. Concerns over other competitors, such as iPhone, are virtually nonexistent according to the company's perspective.
Asked specifically about the recently-launched iPhone App Store, Koller confessed, "We think the iPhone is more of a threat to DS than anything else." The device's focus on telephony leads its users to be more compelled by casual content, a key demographic for Nintendo's handheld, is the thinking.
Given our first look at key titles including Patapon 2, LocoRoco 2, and Resistance: Retribution, there's little doubt gamers will be flocking to PSP through the next year.
Pressure from other portables, however, is undeniable. Few third-party publishers had PSP on display during this year's E3, a stark contrast to the slew of DS games on show. Couple that with iPhone's rapid adoption rate and promising line-up of games and PSP may end up sharing a within that broadening cultural trend Koller mentioned.