The PSP Is Dead, Long Live The PSP

The PSP turned five today. For some, it was cause for celebration, but in light of other events taking place this week, I'm not in such a joyous mood.

My mood is more...optimistic. Why? Because the PSP's fifth birthday might also be one of its last.

Nintendo's continued dominance of the portable market outside Japan (not to mention a lack of consistency in the quality of its software) has been squeezing the life out of the PSP for years anyway, but this week's announcement of the 3DS – a device with yet another highly marketable Nintendo "gimmick" – has surely sounded the death knell for the PSP. If it couldn't beat a DS, there's no way it can beat a DS that does 3D.

I won't waste your time going through the reasons why the PSP finds itself in this position. The UMD, battery life, the price, the lack of quality titles, you've heard it all a million times before. And the PSPgo? Buyers are ignoring it for a reason. Short of it is, these days the PSP is - Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and more Monster Hunter aside - almost irrelevant.

Yet despite all this, I think the PSP has been a success. And a great one at that.

Sure, around the console's launch there were predictions it would kill the DS, but realistically, as Nintendo's first genuine competition in the handheld space for over a decade, the PSP didn't need to win. It only needed to survive. To get its foot in the door, get a portable brand out into people's heads. A handheld D-Day, if you will. Establish a beachhead before pushing inland later.

And it has. Nintendo no longer has the portable market to itself, people know the PSP brand and think of Sony as a company that developers and supports multiple platforms, handhelds included.

Now all we need is to see that push inland. To see Sony respond to Nintendo's 3DS announcement with one of its own. New hardware, PSP2, a new generation. And, like Microsoft - that other recent newcomer to a gaming market - did with the 360 over the original Xbox, make that second machine a genuine competitor.