To say that the PS Vita has had a lackluster start is an understatement. The first few days after its Japanese release were passable, not stellar. But the real sad story is in the subsequent weeks after launch. What does this mean for Sony? What does it mean for the future of portable gaming?
Here are the facts. Week one the Vita sold 325,000 units. Not bad. Week two, the Vita dove to just over 72,000. Since then the numbers are dropping, now showing weeks with less than 16,000 units sold. These numbers are falling below that of the PSP, Playstation 3, and even the Playstation 2. Something is wrong here. Some could argue that because it is only released in Japan, those comparisons are not valid, but even so, it is pretty shocking.
Why are these numbers so low? Is the hardware just THAT faulty? Has Sony lost its touch? I think not. Reports and reviews of the system give high praise for everything from the build quality to the accessibility to the power and usefulness of the product. There must be something else then. A few suspects that come to mind are the lack of Japanese focused titles, high price, cost of required extras (the memory card), close proximity to the holidays, and recent surge of 3DS sales due to the release of major exclusives such as Monster Hunter.
Sony can be genuinely blamed for some of this. Their late announcement of the required (and proprietary) memory cards coupled with their price was a huge barrier to entry. After the PSP Go prided itself with being the only portable handheld with internal storage, Sony definitely took a step backwards, bringing us back to the day when gamers begrudgingly shelled out even more money for the MS Pro Duo cards. Coupled with the already hefty entry price for the system, it can make the purchase of Sony’s new handheld a difficult decision. Beyond this, however, Sony cannot be held responsible. The 3DS spiked in sales in November after a few notable releases. With this, there was an inevitable hit on Sony’s sales.
What does this mean? Has Sony failed? Absolutely not. As sales of the 3DS proved, initial sales mean nothing. After a slouch at the onset of the 3DS, Nintendo has actually found itself with a very lucrative product. The same may still be said for Sony with the PS Vita. The company’s history shows that sales numbers should not be divided up by quarters or even years, but rather, the success of a product is determined by its lifetime sales. The Playstation 3 has always trailed behind the Xbox 360 in sales, but Sony is soon going to be recognized as having the best selling console on the market. Sony is still even manufacturing Playstation 2′s (ten years after its initial release) and they will continue to do so until it is no longer profitable.
To say that Sony has missed the mark with their latest handheld would be a horribly inaccurate assumption. They may have much to prove, but it does not put them out of the race. Sony’s advertisement for the PS Vita is focused on the concept of letting the product speak for itself. I believe that in time the PS Vita will be a staple in gaming just as the rest of Sony’s product have been.
What’s your take on this? Is Sony doomed? Will the world wide release turn things around? Comment and let us know!
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