Wavemetrix, a company that specialises in working out what customers think of products, has released a new report on the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP. The report, rather shockingly, reveals that the "DS is better than the PSP in every important area." This includes games, quality, screen and value. The report is based on research looking at user opinion on a vast number of internet forums. It seems that while the PSP is talked about twice as much as the DS, it just can't compete in overall customer satisfaction.
While the DS seems to be preferred, customers still feel that there are areas where the handheld could improve. The report states:
- Gamers complain of a narrow range of games and would like to see more non-Game Boy Advance titles and more non-puzzle games.
- Many customers say the device is too slow and ask for improved processor speed and graphics performance.
- Customers have frequent problems with the dual screens and ask for thicker, more resistant materials to be used. They also want the issue of dead pixels resolved.
While the DS has its problems, it appears that the PSP has even more, with the report listing the three main shortcomings of the sleek handheld.
- Customers complain that the range of games is too narrow and that whilst several games look good, they are not fun or addictive to play.
- Customers have frequent problems with product quality, particularly dead pixels.
- Customers nearly universally dislike the PSP analogue stick controller. Gamers say the analogue controller is imprecise and uncomfortable.
Moving onto the actual games and it seems that the PSP is mauled once again. According to the report:
"End-users feel that the DS offers superior game choice and game quality thanks to backwards compatibility with Game Boy Advance titles, a consistently high rate of new game releases and many great individual titles. The DS also dominates the gameplay category thanks to well designed controls and a unique touch screen interface that customers much preferred to the PSP's widely disliked analogue control stick."
Some people may argue that the frequency of releases for the DS isn't really that great. Europe in particular only sees a new game release every once in a blue moon, followed by what seems to be a long wait for the next release. When these releases are the quality of Splinter Cell and Golden Eye (not great), the wait for more games seems like an eternity.
Equally baffling is the report's findings on what games in particular the customers like to play.
"Games that customers rated well on DS included Need for Speed 2 and Star Wars Episode III, both due to gameplay. Gamers didn't like Madden 2005 due to perceived poor graphics and player AI. PSP gamers rated Ridge Racer due to the graphics and complained about the poor replay value of Twisted Metal."
I find it hard to see how Need for Speed Underground 2 and Episode III can be two of the most highly rated games for the system, with neither game really matching the best games on the DS. It's also odd to see that people find Twisted Metal on the PSP lacking replay value. Given that it is one of the few games on the PSP that supports online play, you'd think that it would offer more replay value than most other games available for the system.
The report then lists a number of games and how the customers perceive them. Summing up this list far better than I ever could is an image I found on a forum (perhaps a forum that was used in the research for this report? We don't know).
As the image clearly shows, there are some oddities. Firstly, Ridge Racer. While the previous page of the report claims that "PSP gamers rated Ridge Racer due to the graphics," it seems that the overall perception of the game is negative. Very strange. Other games in the negative section for the PSP include Twisted Metal, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Need for Speed Underground 2 (even though this game doesn't actually exist on the PSP, we can assume they mean Rivals). The Positive section only includes five games, with one of those being the utterly dreadful Smart Bomb. Some odd findings indeed. The PSP list seems to be lacking a number of titles, while the DS list includes a number of games that haven't even been released yet.
The PSP's analogue stick has also come under fire, with the general opinion being that it needs to be improved. "Gamers would like to see an improved analogue control stick," said the report. With the DS not including an analogue stick, this would seem like a pretty unfair criticism. Game like Super Mario 64 DS have suffered to a lack of analogue stick control, but this doesn't seem to matter to DS owners.
An area that the PSP has seen some criticism is its build quality and the report reveals exactly what areas customers are most concerned about.
"While both devices scored poorly in quality, the PSP fared much worse, due to poor battery life, misaligned panels, excessive heat generation, sticking control buttons and malfunctioning battery status lights. It is clear that customers have found that PSP build quality does not deliver the level of resilience expected from a mobile device."
Dead pixels are also a big area of concern for customers, with both handhelds suffering from the problem.
"...both devices offered disappointing screen performance with dead pixels being
the major flaw," said the report.
Rounding off the report is value for money. The PSP offers a number of features that the DS doesn't, including movie and MP3 playback, but this doesn't seem to have helped the public's opinion on the handheld.
"While the PSP offers a wider range of features, the incremental value is not enough to sway customers who generally feel that the DS offers a compelling value buy providing the best combination of performance, quality and gameplay at a significantly lower price than PSP."
There is no doubting the fact that the PSP hasn't had a great stream of great games since its release (December in Japan and March in the US), but the DS hasn't seen all that many great releases either. According to the report, customers don't even acknowledge the great screen on the PSP, and seem happy with mediocre DS titles. The fact that a large proportion of the world hasn't been able to play the PSP yet (the PSP goes on sale in Europe on September 1st) may also have something to do with people's attitude towards the console.
Wavemetrix's report is very interesting, but at the same time hard to take too seriously. The report is based on online discussions, but where these discussions took place hasn't been revealed. I don't think that the general opinion on the two systems is as clear cut as the report suggests.