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Pachter: PSPgo “Was A Flop”

April 23, 2011 Written by Tyler Minarik

It’s no secret that the PSP Go has been struggling in sales since it was released, and the recent cancellation of production of PSP Go units is a sure sign the struggle is near over. Now Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter has summarized its outing as “a flop”.

We found out earlier this week that production of PSP Go devices was brought to a halt, which is an obvious sign that there’s no profit to be had in the handheld unit any more. It’s an unusual move for Sony, since most of their hardware is intended to have a much longer shelf life than the mere year and a half the Go has been available for.

The PSP Go was meant to help usher in the digital distribution era by removing the UMD drive, effectively forcing gamers to download all media and freeing them from carrying their games everywhere they go. However, this main “feature” also turned out to be the main source of complaints from users, primarily due to a limited library compared to the physical games available, as well as no reason to spend more money on it. With regards to that, Mr. Pachter seems far from surprised at the Go’s failure.

It was a flop because it wasn’t sufficiently differentiated from the PSP-3000 to justify the much higher price. There’s not a lot to say about PSPgo. The feature set was cool, but not cool enough. The download-only mechanism was not as attractive as they thought it would be. The form factor, while nice, wasn’t worth an extra $80.

It’s difficult to disagree with him, and the low sales and recent cancellation certainly support that. While it’s quite likely Sony has lost a lot of money as a result of this failure, they probably aren’t walking away empty-handed. A couple lessons can be learned here, which will hopefully apply to the upcoming NGP handheld, which will have all games available for digital download, with a certain set of these available for physical purchase as well. This should help keep retailers from feeling cut out of the loop, and give consumers a more versatile device with better options. M2 Research senior analyst Billy Pidgeon seems to think this was a necessary step:

PSPgo was a failure, but iterative failure is a necessary step in progress toward innovation. PSPgo could have contributed very helpful feedback to Sony’s dedicated handheld strategy as an open beta marketplace test in the evolution of game distribution from a physical media format to digital media format. NGP may well be a better system due to lessons Sony learned with PSPgo.

Hopefully this is the case. Sony is usually pretty good at learning from their mistakes, and the current plans for the upcoming NGP look promising. In any case, we’ll hopefully find out more as E3 approaches and more information about the NGP line up is revealed. Were you one of the few who bought a Go, and if so what are your final thoughts on it?