PlayStation Vita certainly still has time to turn things around, but the picture so far is pretty dismal. With just 1.8 million units sold worldwide, financial analysts aren't so optimistic that Sony will hit its own goal of 10 million sold by the end of the fiscal year next March. RW Baird's Colin Sebastian told GamesIndustry International that 10 million at this point looks like a "stretch."
"10 million looks like a stretch goal at this point. Perhaps there is a price cut baked into that guidance later in the year, or Sony believe that there are titles such as Call of Duty for Vita that will be meaningful platform drivers," he said. "Vita is a great dedicated game device, but the market for those products continues to shrink as smart devices become better platforms for games."
The price point is something that many have questioned ever since Vita's launch. At $249 for the Wi-Fi version, many consumers may feel the price isn't justified.
"The best thing Sony could do to spur Vita sales would be to lower the price of the device"
"I am not surprised that the Vita is having such sluggish sales as their launch lineup was nothing to write home about and the price point of the device is too high. With Wii U coming out this fall and 3DS sales gaining momentum, the 10 million unit sales target seems a little too optimistic. The best thing Sony could do to spur Vita sales would be to lower the price of the device," commented Asif Khan, CEO of Panoptic Management Consultants.
Given Sony's bigger financial woes and the need to overhaul its business, however, a price cut on Vita may be too much to swallow.
"Sadly, this poor start to Vita's sales is just compounding problems surrounding the ongoing restructuring of the company. We never believed Vita would be a true profit driver for the company, so its disappointing start is not that shocking. Sony needs to rethink their entire business model, streamline product offerings, and focus on making higher margin quality products," Khan continued.
"Unfortunately, PS Vita's margins will have to suffer through price cuts if they want to start moving more units out of stores. The price cut of the 3DS was exactly the catalyst Nintendo needed to jumpstart sales after a similar lackluster launch. That being said, Sony has bigger problems than a Vita price cut can solve."
Lewis Ward, IDC Research Manager, agrees that Vita hitting 10 million sold by March 2013 will be tough, but it's not impossible. "My global estimate for Vita hardware sales in calendar year 2012 is a little over 9 million. Vita only had about a month of sales beyond Japan in Sony's last fiscal year so I think it's likely the 1.8 million total will be matched or beaten in the next couple quarters."
"I suspect the holiday 2012 lineup will be pretty solid - especially if the Call of Duty rumor is true"
A lot will be riding on Vita's 2012 holiday lineup, and you can bet that Sony will try to shine a spotlight on it during E3 next month. "I suspect the holiday 2012 lineup will be pretty solid - especially if the Call of Duty rumor is true - which could push total Vita sales over 9 million this year. I think it's an excellent device for the 'core' gaming community, so hitting their hardware sales target will mainly boil down to delivering uniquely great gaming experiences," Ward added.
While Vita certainly hasn't performed as well as Sony would have liked just yet, Billy Pidgeon of M2 Research was quick to remind us that hardware sales in 2012 so far have been pretty soft for just about all platforms.
"I would have liked to see stronger PS Vita sales, but hardware performance has been poor overall in Q1 2012. Like any new hardware, PS Vita needs exclusive software to spike system sales," he noted. "There are some promising titles coming up, including Resistance: Burning Skies, Gravity Rush and Little Big Planet, along with some third party titles including Street Fighter x Tekken, Silent Hill: Book of Memories and Metal Gear Solid HD Collection."
Pidgeon agrees that E3 could be a key event for Sony to lay out its Vita plans and perhaps spark some more interest in the portable.
"Sony should announce more must have titles for PS Vita at E3. Ideally some of those will come out in Q4 2012, as that will be the crucial sales period to close in on an installed base of 10 million for next fiscal year."