Whilst the jury is still out on whether Gran Turismo 5 is a damn good game or a damp squib, the shipping numbers have come out and they are extremely impressive. Sony has shipped 5.5 million copies to stores worldwide amd whilst this doesnt equal out to over 5 million copies actually being in the hands of consumers, it does give a good indication of how well the title has been selling when demand for stock is so big.
In 12 days the worldwide numbers have hit 5.52 million, a solid head start to it’s previous full home console title, Gran Turismo 4 which sold 10.86 million copies in it’s 5 years since release.
Its not all good news for the series though as along with the sales for GT5, the sales were also announced for the PSP title that came out in October 2009. Sonys handheld console, the PSP, has sold 62 million since release but the Gran Turismo PSP title, that was praised to be a killer app for the device, has only sold 2.24 million copies, including downloads. Seeing how shoppers are also able to get Gran Turismo PSP for free with various PSP Go offers, that’s not an impressive amount of actual monetary sales for the title.
This raises an important question though: Is the PSP (or handheld gaming) dying when a title in a long running, high profile, series is unable to scrape more than 2.2 million sales?
From what I played of Gran Turismo for the PSP, it felt like a solid game. Graphically it was superb and the controls weren’t as stilted as the home console GT titles are, so what is the reason behind it’s low sales figures?
The Gran Turismo series bases itself on being ‘The Real Driving Simulator’ so surely it would be natural for a portable version to get a lot of interest and sales, in the case of the PSP giving even more of a full simulation feel. It’s not because of people not liking the series anymore as the GT5 sales and the mass interest around this long awaited installment have proved.
I think the main reason is that nobody really cares about the PSP anymore and probably haven’t for quite some time. Whilst millions of people have PSPs, how many actually use them on a regular basis? I own a PSP and rarely use it; In fact the only time I used it this year was when Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker came out but apart from that, it has remained untouched on my desk. The PSP was hailed as this multimedia experience of combing videos, music, gaming but no one actually uses it for that. Why? Because there is something that does it better.
The iDevices (iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad) have completely taken over what Sony wanted to do with the PSP. It has games, it has music and it has downloadable apps. The iDevices are handy things and now they’ve started a strong focus on gaming, it’s going to be increasingly hard for Sony to pull the audience they once had back in which is probably why an upcoming Sony Ericsson Phone is having some form of Playstation integration. Having a phone, multimedia device and gaming system all in one is handy, especially when the hardware is so small. Carrying around a PSP plus a stack of UMDs to do a small fraction of what an iDevice can do just isnt feasible or necessary now that there are better alternatives available for a similar cost.
Sony need to step up their game with the PSP2 but with Steve Jobs’ Apple dominance on the horizon, it’s going to be increasingly hard to come up with a unique point that will pull people back in. Nintendo are already battling back with the N3DS due for release next year but who doesn’t love a good session of MarioKart DS?
What say you Twiddlers? Do you own a PSP or other handheld? Do you still play it? Have Apple killed the handheld market?