Denki News

April 3, 2007

Why the DS outsells the PSP

Filed under: Video Games — icruise @ 4:03 pm

Why does the DS outsell the PSP? Lots of people have theories. They say there aren’t enough good games (something that a glance at the top rated games for each system will disprove). Or maybe they say it’s too expensive. And people will go on about how innovative DS games are in comparison with many PSP games. But the reality is that most people play crap like Hannah Montana DS or the Suite Life of Zach and Cody. It’s not the quality of the games that makes the real difference here. I think the answer is simple. At least to some extent, Sony misread the portable game market.

A huge number of Game Boy owners were kids. Why? Because the system was affordable, portable, and under their complete control. And of course, this also led to a lot of games being produced that appealed to kids. Nintendo pretty much kept this up with the DS (although it was originally a little on the large and pricey side compared to the Game Boy).

Sony on the other hand, went a different way. They priced their portable machine well out of the reach of most kids, and made games that were not very accessible to them as well. $40 for a game is a lot of money for a kid, and with a few exceptions, the PSP just doesn’t have the kind of games that kids like. Even games that should be kid friendly, like LocoRoco, are actually a bit on the hard side. The result is that the PSP is a system mostly for older teens and adults. Contrast this with the DS, which can be enjoyed by BOTH young kids and adults. Maybe Sony thought that the market for high-end portables with multimedia capabilities was higher than it actually was. Maybe they overestimated the appeal of playing console-style games on a portable. But I think it’s clear that alienating children as a market was a mistake.

In short, I think the biggest reason behind the difference in sales between the two systems is simply that the PSP just isn’t very kid-friendly. In fact, if you removed kids from the equation, it wouldn’t surprise me if the two systems were nearly even in sales. It’s possible that the decision to target an older market was the correct one to make, however. If Sony had tried to compete directly with Nintendo for kids’ gaming dollars, they might have failed miserably rather than becoming a respectable second-place player in the portable gaming market.

Thoughts? (I personally prefer the PSP to the DS, but I think Nintendo did a lot of things right in marketing the DS.)



  1. Valid points you make – we (family) own 2 DS and no PSP (though the kids wanted one to play LocoRoco after playing it at a friends)

    Why do we have DS and not PSP – main reason THE COST – 2xPSP and 2 games = 2xDS and a lot of games.
    Second Reason The Games – they are good fun – if they weren’t reason #1 wouldn’t matter because the kids wouldn’t have asked for one.

    Now I think the games for each system are probably comparable- games like Nintendogs, Mario Kart, Rayman, Metroid etc would have equivalent PSP games.

    I think WiFi is pretty cool the kids have fun playng games with their friends when they get together and play 4 or 8 player Mario Kart or even just Pic Chat. Does PSP have this? Even adults enjoy WiFi games.

    So why DS over PSP – for most families it is the cost.

    If Sony sold the PSP (in Aust.) for $200 I would buy one as there are some cool games – but my budget says 1 PSP for $400 + 3 games at $40-$80 each = 2xDS at ~$200ea. (often with game inc.) and 4-6 other games. $20-$60ea

    Comment by David — May 16, 2007 @ 5:36 am

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    Comment by marcus — July 2, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

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