While it’s been a non-entity in parts of the Western world for some time now, Sony has confirmed that it will officially pull the plug on the PlayStation Portable this year. The platform holder’s former flagship handheld format originally launched in Japan on 12th December 2004, meaning that it has more or less served its intended ten year lifespan.

According to the Japanese giant, system shipments to North America ended in January. Meanwhile, stock will cease to be replenished in the firm’s home territory later this month, with European deliveries concluding at the end of the year. The device is actually still moderately popular in regions such as Spain, so it makes sense to prolong the platform’s life a little longer there.

To date, the device has sold over 76 million units, despite having a somewhat troubled tenure at retail. The gizmo’s console quality graphics and multimedia functions served it well during its early days, but a lack of worthwhile software hurt it when Sony switched focus to the PlayStation 3. The machine eventually caught a second wind in Japan on the back of the success of Monster Hunter, which led to the creation of dozens of critically acclaimed games.

The manufacturer will now switch its focus to the PlayStation Vita, which is struggling to make an impact globally. While the diminutive device is now selling fairly well in its home nation, the system has struggled to overcome the clout of smartphones and tablets in Western regions. However, it still remains a popular choice among owners, and has accrued a sizeable library as a result.

Exactly what the future holds for Sony’s portable business remains to be seen, but with Nintendo leading the dedicated gaming space, and iOS and Android attracting more casual players, we suspect that the firm may exit the business eventually. Until that day, though, let’s honour the PSP – a platform that may not have reached its full potential, but still hosted some amazing games.

[via news.yahoo.com]