PS Vita: A Hole in Sony’s Bucket?

PS Vita: A Hole in Sony’s Bucket?

The PS Vita has been out in Europe since late February 2012… yes it’s been out 3 months but for the bosses at Sony it has been a failure and quite a massive one.

In the UK last September there was huge hype about the PS Vita, with a ‘lucky’ number of people able to get some hands on playing time at the Eurogamer Expo in London. The queue was pretty much constant for all 4 days, and the general consensus was nothing short of positive. Gamers loved the graphics, the feel of the console and its smooth gameplay, yet unfortunately that’s as far as many people went with their time on a Vita.

However, it’s not just in the UK or Europe that the Vita is suffering; in its beloved home country of Japan the Vita flatters to deceive and even those faithful to Sony cannot be swayed. Indeed in recent months the predecessor to the Vita, the PSP has continued to outsell the Vita. Considering the PS Vita was introduced as an upgrade to the PSP in hope that many current PSP owners would purchase the new model and new buyers would buy the Vita over the PSP – this can only be seen as a failure on the Vita’s part.

I think there are 3 main reasons on why the PS Vita has done poorly.

Cost.

On release the minimum amount that the PS Vita would set you back would have been around £210 for the standard model, or £260 for the 3G model. In the current financial climate this is no mere drop in the ocean but represents a large investment into a small, handheld console. Compare this to the price of a Nintendo 3DS on release that would have cost £130. This is without delving down to the individual cost of Vita games that are marked up at £30 a pop – pretty much the price of larger console titles. It’s hard to justify paying the same price for handheld games. These consoles are often bought by parents for their children and with such a vast gap between prices – there can only be one winner. Sorry Sony.

Poor Timing.

The Vita was released prior to Christmas in Japan that would have helped boost sales, but a Q1 release date for America and Europe is just about the time when we are all skint from over-indulging at Christmas time whilst slowly chugging through the multiple top-tier titles we either received for Christmas or have just not got round to playing since Q4 release dates. Put these all together and that’s a large part of the gaming population who not only cannot afford a PS Vita but are too busy with their AAA PS3 titles.

Surge in Mobile Gaming.

2012 has seen a huge rise in the popularity of mobile gaming. As mobile phones become more and more capable of doubling up as mobile gaming devices we are seeing a strong trend in the increase in mobile gamers. The PS Vita is essentially marketed for gamers to play ‘on the go’ when they can’t access a more powerful 360, PS3 or PC. Yet with mobile games costing next to nothing and without the need to buy an extra console most people won’t think twice about where to get a cheap thrill on their next train journey (no filthy metaphor intended).

Personally I always thought that the Vita would struggle on release as I just didn’t see a market for it. How Sony can justify the cost of purchasing a Vita alongside a high price for the games is beyond me, especially as people have access to games on the go as we never did before. Tablets and mobiles are more than capable of providing us with quality games that can fill the voids left by long distance travelling or to pass the time in bed. Quite frankly to me, the Vita just doesn’t compete.

Yet of course there are those who will disagree with me; I recently spoke to a few Vita owners and they can’t speak highly enough of the device, complimenting it on its graphical quality and seamless game-play. However, they are all agreed that games are far too expensive.

So what’s next for Sony & the PS Vita? Or even the future of Handheld Gaming Devices in general? All of this has left Sony in a poor situation; they have announced huge cuts and job losses around the world and this is just a knock-on effect of the poor sales performance of the PS Vita. Do you own or know someone who owns a PS Vita? Are they crazy or do they genuinely think there is a place for it in today’s market?

Avatar of Ed Wilson
Ed Wilson


'I feel...like I...like I could...TAKE OVER THE WORLD!' - The great opening scene with purple and green tentacle from the PC classic The Day of The Tentacle (one of the best games ever!). This is my first memory of gaming and ooooh boy you can't get much better.

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar of Bobbeh
    Bobbeh
    May 22, 2012, 11:06 am

    I have played on a Vita and I do think it’s an awesome bit of kit, fantastically powerful, the main problem is the lack of support for it. I will be purchasing one later in the year as I have always been a handheld gamer and it will go well in my collection. It is such a shame that it was so poorly timed and so expensive. I think in time it will become more popular, just as the 3DS had poor starting sales and now is doing relatively well. Plus the added 3G will be interesting to try out.

  2. Avatar of james bowerbank
    james bowerbank
    May 22, 2012, 12:13 pm

    I don’t get time to handheld game, I have an Ipad, DS and a PSP and find I use my Ipad for games more than the others. The only time the old handhelds get dusted off is if I go on holiday. If i commuted everyday by public tranport then I might be tempted but thats a lot of corn to spend on something that has very few must have titles!!

  3. Avatar of Mark Findlay
    Mark Findlay
    May 22, 2012, 2:55 pm

    I have a Vita and i love it, its a brilliant bit of kit and have loved the games i’ve played so far, but that’s the biggest problem, the games, where are they??

    Since launch there has been just a handful of new games, and as any console will live or die based on what games are released, im seriously worried my cherished Vita will die a slow death and ill be left with something great but unsuable.

    Would be a huge shame if it fails.

  4. Avatar of Chris Jacobs
    Chris Jacobs
    May 22, 2012, 5:50 pm

    The only thing in this piece I’d take issue with is the idea that games are overpriced. Of course, I’d like them to be cheaper but I don’t think you’re comparing like for like. Uncharted Golden Abyss for example is a full blown Uncharted game, not what we’d traditionally consider a handheld version. FIFA too, mechanically it’s an old FIFA I know, but it’s still a full blown version.

    These games aren’t stripped down mobile games, and in my opinion should be viewed differently when comparing prices. If anything, Sony needs to get the message across more. You’re not buying a mobile version, you’re taking the home console game with you.

    Plants vs Zombies I’ll give you though, way over priced when compared to the far superior iOS version.

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