Low PSP sales due to piracy - Sony

SCEA senior vice president of publisher relations Rob Dyer says pirates and low publisher support for handheld hurt sales; claims upcoming tech will give titles 60-day piracy-free shelf life.

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It's no secret that North American sales for the PSP are at the low end of the spectrum. The handheld is consistently behind its competitors, with the most recent NPD report showing US retail sales of just 65,500 units last month compared to the Nintendo DS, which topped the sales charts with 440,800 units sold.

Sony is trying to curb piracy of PSP titles in the US.
Sony is trying to curb piracy of PSP titles in the US.

In a recent interview with Gamasutra, Sony Computer Entertainment America senior vice president of publisher relations Rob Dyer blamed piracy and a lack of American publisher support for the PSP's low sales in North America.

"That's been the biggest problem, no question about it. It's become a very difficult proposition to be profitable, given the piracy right now. And the fact that the category shrunk inside of retail," he said.

"There's a number of titles from American publishers that will be there, but are we getting full-line support? No. I'm not going to b******* you on that."

Dyer said Sony was working on solutions to the piracy problem, hinting that the company was developing a method that would temporarily delay illegal sharing of PSP titles.

"We believe that there's a way that you will be able to, not stop, but slow down the piracy in the first 30 to 60 days from a tech perspective. There's some code that you can embed that we've been helping developers implement in order to get people at least to see a 60-day shelf life before it gets hacked and it shows up on BitTorrent," he said.

North American PSP figures are in stark contrast to the situation in Sony's home country, where the system enjoys strong sales. In recent weeks, the PSP has even outsold the Nintendo Wii and DSi LL in the charts. In the week ending May 16 the PSP sold 24,475 units in Japan; the previous week's numbers stood at 35,233.

"It's [the PSP] killing it in Japan," Dyer told Gamasutra. "[In North America] you have [Metal Gear Solid] Peace Walker that I think is going to do very good numbers. You're going to have some phenomenal support from Square. They have some great stuff coming. You have some great stuff from Capcom. Again, it's a lot of stuff from Japan," he said.

Dyer said Sony would try to rectify the situation with a strong lineup of first-party and third-party titles for the PSP in the next year.

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