Back in early 2005 I was Sony PlayStation Portable crazy! I was promoting it daily on the site and as studios started to reveal their release slate for Sony PSP movies I was bringing you all the news. I began reviewing the discs for you and hailed them for their picture clarity and their worth for the constant traveler.
Since then I have found my Sony PSP to be quite dusty. I have probably picked it up only a couple of times in recent history and that was to preview the Stealth UMD, which I didn’t think was even worth reviewing, and the Doom UMD, which arrived only a few days ago. As for those two titles, I didn’t even watch Stealth, I did play the little game that came with it, but considering it only has a couple of levels it is no mighty draw to the horrible film that was Stealth. As for Doom, well, I didn’t watch that one either. Doom is better than Stealth as far as movies go, but I am having a hard time figuring out when I am going to play this little handheld device. Whether it is watching a movie or playing a game I find myself with other things to occupy my travel time than popping in a game or movie for a little while… and it seems consumers are following suit, at least as far as the movies are concerned.
I have wondered how well the UMD movies were doing for the longest time since I walk into a Best Buy and see a tiny, tiny segment of the store dedicated to the movie titles available for the portable device and I don’t even see all the titles available on the shelves. On top of that, as I continually add UMD titles to the RopeofSilicon database I continue to notice fewer of the titles available at Amazon.com for me to link to. Of the last 30 UMD titles I added to the database only four of them are on sale at Amazon.com!
What does this tell me? It tells me consumers aren’t buying, and according to a recent Variety article that is exactly the case.
According to Variety Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video are cutting back on movie releases for the PSP. Yeah, even Sony Pictures is cutting back!
Sales have fallen way below expectations with top PSP movie performers generally sell more than 100,000 units, though the average release posts sales closer to 40,000-50,000 units.
There are several excuses as to why sales are down from a lack of titles available recently to illegal copying of films from DVD to memory sticks, but I believe they may finally have figured out an easy way to combat online piracy as Sony will begin movies online via its Connect digital media store, but the only way this is going to work is if they cut WAY back on the price. UMDs can only be viewed on the Sony PSP and to think a consumer is going to pay upwards of $15 for one of these limited discs is a bit silly, but even this complaint is being tackled by Sony.
Apparently the manufacturer believes the best solution will be in the form of a new adapter that would allow a user to watch a PSP pic on a TV.
What?!?!? Why would someone buy a PSP movie only to plug it into their TV? Do these people not have DVD players? Is it possible there is someone out there that owns a Sony PSP and not a DVD player and what are the chances a UMD movie could equal the quality of a DVD on the big screen anyway? On top of that, why would people continue to buy UMD movies with the upcoming launch of Blu-ray and HD DVDs? Am I the only one asking these questions?
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president Ben Feingold told Variety, “It would be a huge boost to (PSP movies) if we can arrange for the disc to play on TV players.”
Sorry Ben, I don’t see that working. People are going to soon realize they are plugging their PSP in while their DVD player is sitting right there. It just doesn’t make sense. After all, who is on the road so long and so often that they have time to watch an entire movie?
The Sony PSP is an amazing handheld videogame system, but as a movie device it just doesn’t work. If the studios can figure out a way to protect their content and sell the films digitally much in the way that iTunes has begun selling television shows for the iPod then they will have something, but until then I see sales of UMD movies slowly declining into oblivion.