Sony talks PSP at PlayStation Meeting

Company announces PSP shipment has reached 5 million units worldwide; 150 games to be available by next March.

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TOKYO--At the PlayStation Meeting in Tokyo today, Sony Computer Entertainment gave some new updates on its PSP handheld, revealing latest sales figures and upcoming games.

SCE announced that it has shipped 5.07 million units worldwide to date. Of those, 2.74 million were in North America and the other 2.33 million were in Japan and Asia. The company expects to see an additional boost in PSP sales when it launches in Europe this September.

In terms of game sales, SCE shipped 11.2 million PSP games worldwide: 7.3 million in North America and 3.9 million games in Japan and Asia. There have been 48 games released so far, and the number of available titles is expected to reach 150 by March 31, 2006.

UMD movie sales have been extremely strong in America, where 4.3 million copies have already shipped. This figure includes the 1 million Spider-Man 2 UMDs that came bundled with the first release of the handheld. On the other hand, sales of UMD movies have been sluggish in Japan, with only 400,000 copies being sold up to date. But given the overall good sales of PSP software, Sony will be increasing its production capacity in Japan from 3 million UMDs a month to 5 million.

Sony also announced that the next firmware update for the PSP, on July 27, will add a Web browser function that corresponds to HTML 4.01, albeit without support for Macromedia Flash. Using the browser function, Sony showed off its new Web portal for the PSP that will let owners of the handheld download movies so they can watch them on the fly. The new PSP update will also come with support for MP4(AVC) movies, which allows for higher-quality videos than before.

SCE also shed some light on upcoming games for the PSP. The first trailer of Exciting Pro Wrestling PSP was shown at the meeting. Its trailer had no music and was short, but it showed the WWE star The Undertaker throwing an opponent into an open casket that slammed shut with a loud thud. The game then showed the game's logo, which indicated the game will be titled "SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006" in English.

Other PSP trailers shown at the meeting included Tecmo's Karakuri, Bandai's Gundam Battle Tactics and Giren no Yabou, Aquaplus' Comic Party Portable, Konami's Powerful Pro-Baseball portable, Spike's Shinobidou Homura, Namco's Taiko no Tatsujin Portable, Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner, Capcom's Monster Hunter Portable, and a unique new game titled "Baito Hell" ("Part-Time Hell") from SCEJ, which appears to let players takes on odd jobs, like being a part-time pro wrestler or a motorbike messenger.

Namco is also making an unique game called Portable Resort, in which the player can enjoy a virtual life on an island resort. If the player finds some scenery he or she likes on the island, he or she can make the image the PSP's desktop. Game studio Muu Muu is making a game slated for release in October called Fuku Fuku no Shima ("The Happy Happy Island"). Players of the game will interact with the indigenous inhabitants of an island, who will ask questions of players and analyze their personalities. In addition, SCE revealed that Talkman, which has nearly been forgotten by the public, will finally be coming out "this winter."

Sony also showed a trailer of Square Enix's anticipated game, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. The trailer was a short (but graphically impressive) cinematic and didn't feature any in-game screens. The trailer featured a flashback scene in the village of Niblheim, where FFVII's villain, Sephiroth, learned about the secret of his birth. Most scenes focused on the Shinra soldier Zacks, but FFVII's main character Cloud was also present and was seen being stabbed by Sephiroth. The trailer ended with a blank screen with text that read, "A story of three young men and one young woman bound for destiny."

A surprise game announced at the meeting was Konami's World Soccer Winning Eleven 9: Ubiquitous Edition, which will make its way to the PSP on September 15, simultaneous with the release of the new "ceramic white" PSP model. Ubiquitous Edition seems to fundamentally play the same as the upcoming console edition slated for release next month in Japan. The game is titled "Ubiquitous" since it can be brought anywhere and played with the PSP's Wi-Fi connection.

Series producer Shingo Takatsuka commented that he expects the PSP to become a new core platform for the Winning Eleven series. Developers have dedicated their time to tuning Ubiquitous Edition to play similarly to the PlayStation 2 games in the series. He added that the game will feature some form of connectivity with the PS2 version of Winning Eleven 9.

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