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La Vita e Bella?

La Vita e Bella?

Fri 25 Apr 2014 7:05am GMT / 3:05am EDT / 12:05am PDT
Hardware

Sony's handheld might not be selling well, but it is popular, says Rob Fahey

Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony Computer Entertainment is a Japanese videogame company specialising in a variety of areas in the...

playstation.com

Sales of PlayStation Vita in the USA during March were hovering around the 10,000 mark. Whatever trouble the Wii U may be facing in that market (and it's facing plenty), Vita is in a much tougher position. Week to week, there are fewer Vitas being sold in the USA than original Wii consoles, let alone Wii Us. Back of the envelope calculations suggest that on average, stores stocking the Vita are selling less than two consoles a month; the reality is probably tougher for most, given that stores like Amazon will have accounted for the lion's share of purchases. In many retail stores across America, a Vita probably hasn't been sold in the past month at all.

Disaster, right? It's certainly not the position Sony would have wanted for its latest handheld. Its performance is massively behind that of its older stablemate, the PlayStation Portable, at the same point in its life; and the PSP itself wasn't considered an enormously successful platform, as it was eclipsed throughout its life by the Nintendo DS and struggled to maintain a decent tie ratio for software sales. Now the same story seems to be repeating. 3DS is doing remarkably well for Nintendo, and maintaining healthy software sales along the way; Vita is underperforming, assailed on one side by Nintendo's continuing success and on the other by tablets and smartphones which are encroaching into the core gaming space.

So goes the conventional argument which ends up saying "Vita is a bust". There are, however, other factors worthy of consideration here, and I don't think that we should expect Sony to cash in its chips on the Vita platform any time soon. Moreover, I don't think developers will be abandoning Vita any time soon. Instead, I think the type of developer targeting Vita is changing; and it may, surprisingly, end up being a change for the best.

"if you're a smaller developer making indie games, Vita is an increasingly intriguing option... Developers have told me that Vita is among their best-selling platforms, despite the low installed base"

Let's look at some other factors in Vita's performance. Firstly, a blanket statement - Vita isn't doing well by any measure. Global sales of the console aren't good - it's tracking ahead of the Wii U at the moment, but celebrating that fact would be like triumphantly announcing your victory in a battle of wits against a rock. It's likely that PS4's sales will overtake Vita within the next six weeks; Xbox One will quite possibly do the same within the first half of this year. As for the comparison with the 3DS, don't even ask. It's simply embarrassing.

There are, however, bright spots in this story. For a start, things look worse than they ought for the simple fact that the USA is the primary focus of the games media's attention. Even overseas media outlets are guilty of a US-centric approach, not least due to the dominance of US-owned websites, but also due to the ready availability of figures and expert commentary from the US market. As a result, everything from the NPD sales report to the various pronouncements of analysts like Michael Pachter is reported around the world, leading to a slightly skewed viewpoint that sometimes forgets that the US is a minority market; the largest market, certainly, but dwarfed by the rest of the world and actually rather unique and unusual in its tastes and purchasing decisions, by global standards.

Vita is having a disastrous time in the USA, but that's the baseline; rock bottom. In Europe, Vita is selling at three or four times the rate of its US sales. In Japan, it's doing ten times the US numbers. Ten times "dreadful" is still in the "mediocre" range, but if Vita were to sell globally at some midpoint between its Japanese and European performance, it would be comfortably outpacing sales of its predecessor, the PSP. Moreover, it implies a very different market for the console in different territories. In Japan, where handheld gaming has traditionally held an edge over home console gaming (for various reasons ranging from the simple "living rooms here are tiny" through to more complex and interesting social factors), Vita is attracting a reasonably large audience of core gamers - what we might think of generally as the PlayStation demographic. In the USA, it's attracting a very hardcore minority, while Europe lies somewhere in between. That western demographic, focused on very core experiences, is a particularly interesting niche. It's an audience of people whose interest in the Vita is, I believe, based heavily on the growing library of indie and retro titles for the platform, as well as on its interaction with the PS4 (for which many of these gamers are probably also early adopters).

That leads to the other important factor in this discussion. If you're a publisher making expensive AAA games, you've probably all but written off the Vita already; not without good reason. The installed base is small, the growth curve is negative and as retailers cut back on Vita's shelf space (which they will obviously do if they're only selling one or two per month), they'll also be cutting back on the chance of major new games getting a significant retail presence. With limited resources at their disposal, publishers will quite rightly look at the rapid growth of PS4, the strong position of 3DS and the solid performance of Xbox One, not to mention the potential of PC, tablet and smartphones, and decide that Vita isn't the right place to place a bet.

On the other hand, if you're a smaller developer making indie games, Vita is an increasingly intriguing option. An installed base of 8 million doesn't look appealing if you're a publisher with a mainstream title hoping for a multi-million seller - but indie developers ought to be concerned with the quality of the audience on offer, not just the quantity. Speak to indie teams with experience of the Vita, and you often find that they're full of praise for the platform. Among those 8 million Vita owners, it seems, are a huge number of devoted core gamers who proactively seek out interesting indie experiences and are heavy users of the PlayStation Network online store. Developers have told me that Vita is among their best-selling platforms, despite the low installed base.

This puts Vita in an interesting position in between rival handheld platforms. The 3DS has a huge installed base, but the vast majority of its software is sold physically at retail - I don't know what percentage of 3DS owners have ever bought anything from Nintendo's clunky and unlikeable eShop, but I don't imagine it's terribly high. As a consequence, if you want to develop a successful title for the 3DS, you really need to have a publishing contract that's going to get you put into a box and into stores; a gigantic hurdle to leap for any indie team. On the other side, you have iOS, which has an even more massive installed base and does have lots of users downloading software; but free-to-play is dominant on this platform, and getting users to actually pay for game software up-front is a major challenge. Moreover, iOS devices lack physical controls, which limits the kind of games that can successfully be played on them.

"Vita has the potential to be an evolutionary niche that's beloved by gamers and remarkably successful for developers operating at the right scale for the platform"

In the middle you have Vita. Small installed base, yes, but an enthusiastic one; indeed, one only needs to look at the comments thread for any Vita-related article on the internet to see how devoted many Vita owners are to their console. Moreover, it's an installed base that's interested in trying out indie and niche titles, wants to play them on a portable platform, is comfortable with downloading them and most of all, is happy to actually pay money for them. In a sense, buying a Vita and supporting the developers who work on it has become the default action for gamers who bemoan the rapid rise of F2P and mobile gaming, and would rather actually do something about it rather than crying on Twitter all day long. It's an enclave where the old business model still works nicely; not that it's entirely free of F2P (nor should it be, since F2P is a perfectly valid model for many types of game), but it's far from being the default, as it is on iOS.

As this perception of the Vita grows, I expect it will do something quite odd; even as the console's installed base continues to disappoint in terms of headline figures, Vita will actually attract more development support, not less. The AAA tentpole releases will have to come from Sony, for the most part, but the rest of the console's library will be filled in with panache by small developers and other firms seeking to address the niche market forming around the Vita. Nobody will make huge fortunes, but not every business ecosystem has to be enormous; Vita has the potential to be an evolutionary niche that's beloved by gamers and remarkably successful for developers operating at the right scale for the platform.

What about Sony, in all of this? Sony's take on Vita, at this point, reminds me a little of Apple's long-term view on Apple TV - which Steve Jobs famously described as being a "hobby" rather than a core business. Vita is Sony Computer Entertainment's hobby. It may, in the end, be much more than that; its interaction with PS4 may see it becoming a must-have accessory for the home console, which would drive sales significantly. Its future role as a client device for PlayStation Now could prove to be a killer application for the broader market. Vita TV, barely selling at all after a bizarre soft-launch in Japan (a territory with no streaming video market worth a damn, which snuffs out much of the appeal of the device right out of the door), could equally turn into a hugely important product once PS Now is up and running; I suspect that Vita TV will launch alongside PS Now in the USA, marketed primarily as a client for the service, with integration into other Sony devices (primarily TVs) also coming down the line. A lot could change, commercially, and Sony will not stop enthusiastically supporting Vita while any of those irons remains in the fire.

Comparisons with the Dreamcast are inevitable when a console fails to impress commercially. In this instance, the comparisons are all the more compelling since Vita has also found itself in the mantle of the plucky underdog; beloved by core gamers and media, yet failing to catch the eye of the wider public. There, however, the comparisons end. For Dreamcast, the moment where the big publishers stopped being willing to put millions behind the development and launch of AAA games was the death knell of the system. For Vita, birthed in an era of digital distribution, indie development and niche publishing, that moment may just be the beginning.

37 Comments

Lorenzo Salvadori
Videogame Audio Specialist

2 6 3.0
NIce article Mr.Fahey! It's interesting finding out that the Vita is not dead at all, but might be picking up in the upcoming months/years. I wouldn't ever ever give a dime. But now that you make me think about it I met a couple of indie dev which were about to pull something out for Vita, so, as you state, it's probably the direction Sony is taking now. And what a change it may be!

Posted:5 months ago

#1

Christian Keichel
Journalist

681 925 1.4
Vita is having a disastrous time in the USA, but that's the baseline; rock bottom. In Europe, Vita is selling at three or four times the rate of its US sales. In Japan, it's doing ten times the US numbers. Ten times "dreadful" is still in the "mediocre" range, but if Vita were to sell globally at some midpoint between its Japanese and European performance, it would be comfortably outpacing sales of its predecessor, the PSP. Moreover, it implies a very different market for the console in different territories.
I never heard reliable numbers of the Vita performance in Europe, from where does the 3 to 4 times as much as in the US number comes from? The japanese 10 times as much as in the US is a slight exxageration, the Vita sells more something like 20k per week in Japan, but that's not the point, even if I say the middle ground between 10 times (Japan) and 4 times (Europe) is 7 times, it means 70K per territory. If the Vita would sell in the US and Japan and Europe 70K per month per territory, it would mean 210K per month, resulting in 2.5 million units per year, at this pace it would take the Vita 32 years to outsell the PSP.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christian Keichel on 25th April 2014 9:25am

Posted:5 months ago

#2

Jakub Mikyska
CEO

200 1,092 5.5
Popular Comment
I am glad to see that somebody finally says something reasonable about Vita. We were among the first indie developers to support Vita and to experiment with stuff like cross-platform multiplayer and save sharing back in the day when Vita was expected to be the next big thing. Now, a few years later, we are still here, supporting Vita.

What keeps Vita alive are the incredible Vita owners. When you own a "big" console, you own a device. When you own a Vita, you are a gamer. People with Vita are looking for new stuff, buying games, tweeting, posting on forums, influencing their friends. It is the best audience any gaming device has ever had.

When releasing the same game on Vita and PS3, Vita sales are nearly as strong on Vita as they are on PS3 for us. At least with $10 games. With majority of tools supporting Vita, if you are making a multi-platform indie game and not targeting Vita, you are being stupid.

Posted:5 months ago

#3

Nick Parker
Consultant

283 151 0.5
In the UK, Vita has sold around 30k so far this year (end March) and in Western Europe about 110k. Installed base in Western Europe is around 1.8m (end March). In Japan, Vita has sold approximately 375k in the first three months this year and has an installed base of just short of 2.6m. Vita is a portable console for core gamers who seem to love it. It's interesting though that the vast majority of core console gamers don't wish to play their TV based games on the move as only 6.5% of PS3 and PS4 owners combined own Vita in Western Europe.

Posted:5 months ago

#4

Neil Young
Programmer

296 372 1.3
Good article Rob - I wonder if Nintendo should be paying attention to this for the WiiU - another console with low sales figures, AAA held up by the manufacturer and a mix of classic and touch screen controls? Could indies be the solution there too?

Posted:5 months ago

#5

Justin Shuard
J - E translator

43 174 4.0
I love my Vita but I realize that it fulfills a niche I'm interested in (indies/Japanese games) that probably won't appeal to a lot of console-only gamers. What it needs is a massive hit like the PSP had with Monster Hunter. At the moment it seems that only the 3DS is pulling out the big name software in the handheld space.

Posted:5 months ago

#6

Christian Keichel
Journalist

681 925 1.4
@ Nick
In the UK, Vita has sold around 30k so far this year (end March) and in Western Europe about 110k. Installed base in Western Europe is around 1.8m (end March).
Can you tell me where these numbers come from?

Posted:5 months ago

#7

Ryan Locke
Lecturer in Media Design

60 16 0.3
I really want a Vita and I'm surprised I still haven't bought one - there are a ton of titles on it I'd happily play - in fact, many titles I've seen on it may be better on Vita than other systems. I think my reservation is simple, and I think many people are like me - the massive smartphone I carry about in my pocket pretty much is my mobile console. Perhaps Sony are over-due a new marketing strategy on this one...I'm so close to tipping!

I do see myself investing in the future, especially as PS4 gains some pace - i'll start feeling like I'm missing out if I don't take advantage of remote play features and PS+ content.

Perhaps there's a lot of people who'll tip to Vita if there was one last magic trick up its sleeve - but I am noticing increasingly positive attitudes to the device.

Posted:5 months ago

#8

Nick Parker
Consultant

283 151 0.5
@Christian. They are from known sources which is why I can't give exact numbers - sorry to be so cryptic.

Posted:5 months ago

#9

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,169 953 0.8
As with many things, I think the Vita has always been just a step or two away from greatness.

Posted:5 months ago

#10

Roy Van De Mortel
Co- Founder, Lead level design

5 4 0.8
"Vita has the potential to be an evolutionary niche that's beloved by gamers and remarkably successful for developers operating at the right scale for the platform"
Spot on :). For us, as a small studio we have enough confidence in the Vita and more importantly their owners to develop a Vita exclusive at the moment. The fact that vita owners usually prefer the Vita version from cross platform indie games makes me curious about how a vita exclusive potentially could do :) Ill be happy to share some numbers once we're released to hopefully get more developers on the Vita bandwagon.

Posted:5 months ago

#11

Jim Burns
Research Asisstant

44 85 1.9
Popular Comment
"The 3DS has a huge installed base, but the vast majority of its software is sold physically at retail - I don't know what percentage of 3DS owners have ever bought anything from Nintendo's clunky and unlikeable eShop, but I don't imagine it's terribly high. "
A statement like this is a bit irresonsible when you say you do not know. Gunman Clive? Sold the majority of its units on eshop. The same has been said for countless indie games.

Animal Crossing? 25% of gamers bought the game on the eshop. The 3DS eshop has been extremely good business.

Nintendo Wii U and 3DS digital sales on the rise as described here : http://www.polygon.com/2013/4/25/4265002/nintendo-wii-u-and-3ds-digital-sales-on-the-rise-animal-crossing-new

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jim Burns on 25th April 2014 3:46pm

Posted:5 months ago

#12

Villhauer Benjamin
Head of Sourcing

6 2 0.3
Ok I don't want to nitpick as I prefer statements with sources but the article says:

"Nintendo has also been selling download codes for New Leaf at retailers, which make up for more than two-thirds of the game's digital sales. Nintendo also reports that based on Club Nintendo registration data, players who purchased Animal Crossing: New Leaf digitally have also opted for the downloadable version of Tomodachi Collection."

So probably you are both right with indie titles are almost only sold via the store (especially if they are not available via retail as with Gunman Clive as far as I know) wheras the classic big titles go via retail more often than not.

Posted:5 months ago

#13
I'm aware that there have been some successes on the eshop, but to the best of my knowledge Nintendo don't release detailed figures for its performance - and I don't think it's unreasonable to say that the actual experience of using the eshop is pretty terrible. Nintendo still hasn't got to grips with the notion of digital distribution, although they're getting there slowly.

Incidentally, you need to take some of the eshop stats which Nintendo DOES release with a massive pinch of salt, because they include the sale of "eshop cards" in Japan (and some other markets, but mostly Japan). Every convenience store in Japan has a rack of 3DS eshop cards for the most recent popular games - basically scratch cards with a code to enter on the eshop to grab a download version. It's a brilliant idea which gives them a retail presence far beyond any other platform; however, it also really is a retail experience, not an online store experience. You go to a shop, buy a physical card for cash, and then use a code to download. I don't consider sales generated that way to be an authentic measure of success for the online store.

Posted:5 months ago

#14

Russ Cogman
Senior Game Artist

22 47 2.1
Owning both a 3DS and a Vita I can't think why the Vita isn't doing better. Is it advertising? Is it the price point? Is it the price of storage media for digital content that put people off the Vita?
I know that I personally won't buy Nintendo digital content, because of how they lock the content to a device instead of an account. That and the prices never seem to be reasonable. Vita content on the other hand is always getting sales and specials and the Playstation Plus free games are a welcome addition too.
When it comes to value and entertainment I don't regret buying my Vita at all. I regretted my 3DS purchase within just a couple of months after the 3D novelty wore off.

Posted:5 months ago

#15

Jim Burns
Research Asisstant

44 85 1.9
Nintendo always breaks down the sales split between retail and eshop, and eshop sales are actually higher than your average digitally downloaded game. I do think it is unreasonable to say that when the experience of using the shop is no better or worse than any other digital marketplace outside of Steam. Sure, the eshop has problems, but so do psn and xbla. I did not mean to come off as so, fighty, but that part did bother me. Also over 250 indie titles are schedules to be sold through the eshops over the next year. I would say if eshop was terrible, you would not be seeing anyone.

Anyway, I think I was able to get my point across, thank you for responding.

Posted:5 months ago

#16

Jim Burns
Research Asisstant

44 85 1.9
@Russ Cogman

I use my 3DS and Vita more than I do the consoles these days. Love handheld game systems. 3DS has such a good library and it gets better all the time, while Vita gets really great games too. Love both.

Posted:5 months ago

#17

Christian Keichel
Journalist

681 925 1.4
@ Rob
It's a brilliant idea which gives them a retail presence far beyond any other platform; however, it also really is a retail experience, not an online store experience. You go to a shop, buy a physical card for cash, and then use a code to download. I don't consider sales generated that way to be an authentic measure of success for the online store.
Then you must subtract every purchase from PSN where the customer bought a PSN network card fill up his digital wallet.
and I don't think it's unreasonable to say that the actual experience of using the eshop is pretty terrible
I think this depends on what you expect from a digital shop, right now the eShop hosts over 50 demo versions for download, far more then the Vita store, it also features screen shots and game descriptions in the shops language for every game unlike the Vita store, where terrible machine translations and a lack of screen shots make it sometimes impossible to even guess what the game is about, but most important here is a list of the 170 3DS exclusive games on the eShop (not including virtual console and DSi Ware games) and here is a list of the 103 Vita games on the PSN store (not including.Minis, PSP and PS1 games)
The 3DS store has about 75% more games then the Vita store, when it comes to content, the 3DS simply has more to offer for the interested gamer.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Christian Keichel on 25th April 2014 5:26pm

Posted:5 months ago

#18

Neow Shau Jin
Studying Bachelor in Computer Science

52 81 1.6
@Russ

Vita was thought to be going to outsell the 3DS when both of them are announced at $249 pricepoint, at that time the general consensus is that Vita is offered at a great price for the hardware it is packing, until Nintendo drops the price of 3DS prior to Vita's release, then post-Vita release we started to hear complains from hypocrites that the Vita price is too high and Sony should drop it.

Nintendo cut the price of 3DS in less than 1 year after launch led to people expecting Sony to do so, which in turns lead to Vita not gaining momentum it supposed to have post-launch. In short, it bit the bullet for 3DS's damaged fan goodwill.

Posted:5 months ago

#19

Christian Keichel
Journalist

681 925 1.4
Nintendo cut the price of 3DS in less than 1 year after launch led to people expecting Sony to do so, which in turns lead to Vita not gaining momentum it supposed to have post-launch.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christian Keichel on 25th April 2014 5:49pm

Posted:5 months ago

#20

Andrew Jakobs
Lead Programmer

234 94 0.4
Well, I don't really know where this story comes from, but the Vita isn't doing that bad, at least not outside the US, in Japan it even was the top selling console last week..
But ofcourse the vita isn't doing as well as the PSP, back when the PSP came out there weren't any real good smartphones that could do games. Today the vita has some stiff competition of a lot of smartphones which are even more powerfull, the only advantage the vita has is it's physical controls..

Posted:5 months ago

#21

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,104 1,073 1.0
Are we really trying to call the Vita a success based on the fact that small indie studios make an extra buck after they spend some of the leftover kickstarter money on something other than a Steam version? (<- stretch statement, I know).

I can vividly imagine relatives approaching me with an Apple-branded brick, claiming the new Steve Jobs game of smacking said brick against their head was the best thing ever. The same cannot be said for the Vita, which lacks a certain ubiquity in today's gamescape.

I propose the following test. Take a Vita target audience test subject and present it with two choices. He can either have a smartphone with all the apps to his social communication networks (and the ability to make a call), or the Vita. Don't assume he will pack two devices, because he won't and if you do, take a good long look in the mirror. And I also mean all the of the social media, not just those known to men in grey suits. Facebook and Twitter are the the end all solutions to claims of social connectivity. In my opinion, this presents the greatest thread to mobile gaming the way the 3DS and the Vita do it. It is not that gaming was bad on the Vita or the 3DS. It was not that gaming was particularly good on tablets and phones. it's just that all the parts matter and the Vita and the 3DS turned a blind eye to huge portions of today's mobile realities. Gaming is not the most important thing for the mainstream after all. So if you device only does gaming well....

Posted:5 months ago

#22

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
The VITA is a great piece of kit. The only thing keeping me from buying it is the price and not the price of the VITA itself, its that damn memory card that adds too it. But Ive already started stocking up VITA games I find at good prices, I bought persona 4 Golden for 20$. so Ill have a decent library of games to play once I can find a VITA at a good price.

The other thing that kills VITA for me is that most games are just ports of PS3/4 games.

Posted:5 months ago

#23

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

926 1,382 1.5
I always found it interesting that, despite the fact that I'm a gamer, talk to tons of other gamers and do gaming merch work in Gamestop, Best Buy, Target, Walmart and Toys R Us(among others) I haven't met more than a single person who actually owns a Vita. Every gamer I know owns a console and also either games on a 3DS or a cellphone/tablet but out of all those hundreds of people only one owns a Vita. Or atleast he did around it's launch but I haven't talked to him in awhile. I always knew the Vita wasn't selling well but when you barely know anyone who owns the system it gives alittle more credence into just how badly it's really doing.

Posted:5 months ago

#24

Yiannis Koumoutzelis
Founder & Creative Director

362 207 0.6
Popular Comment
"might not be selling well" is a platinum candidate for "The Understatement of the Year" award! :) Using more or less the same arguments one can say the same about Blackberry too!

"When you own a Vita you are a gamer"
We should say that to the millions who play countless awesome hardcore games on 3DS!
(said Sony...)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Yiannis Koumoutzelis on 26th April 2014 4:38am

Posted:5 months ago

#25

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
The problem, Rob, is that if the Vita is pulled from shelves in the US (and it will be soon, it's selling 10K a month, which averages out to less than 1 unit per 2 months per store stocking the Vita), there is a ripple effect. The US market may not be the only market in the world, but it affects every market in the world. When that market is no longer an option publishers will notice, indies will notice, and far fewer games will be made. The chain of the effect will continue, and sales will drop in Japan and Europe as well.

Posted:5 months ago

#26

Colin Payne
game designer; artist

22 24 1.1
The eShop is clunky? What eShop are you using?

Posted:5 months ago

#27

Nick Wofford
Hobbyist

180 190 1.1
@Yiannis
It's been awhile since Nintendo gave me that magical feeling from childhood, but they do still deserve respect. And it always seems to me like everyone gives it to them except Sony (and its defenders). Jack Tretton straight-up called the 3DS a babysitting tool, and insulted people who would play it in public. It's clear he's wrong, because on any given public transit, you'll see the one (maybe) Vita owner completely outnumbered by 3DS's and smartphones.

@Nicholas
I agree completely. If the Vita pulls a PSP Go, then support will instantly disappear. And I don't care what indies are saying, the attach rate for the Vita is pretty open-knowledge. It's abysmal, so the claims of the "purchasing power of the Vita" don't amount to much. Most indies counter with "But the Vita owners are so vocal online!" Cool, but if that doesn't translate into a sale, it's a complete waste of energy.

Posted:5 months ago

#28
@Nick
The often-quoted attach rate for the Vita is terrible, but rather importantly, it doesn't include PSN purchases (which, for some reason I can't quite fathom, are also often not included in Sony's summaries of software sales in their financials). So the indie games you mention simply aren't included in those figures. Vita's true attach rate is an unknown right now; that doesn't mean we should run off assuming that it's fantastic, but I think it's safe to say that it's higher than the figure usually cited. From a personal perspective, I have about 20 games for my Vita, of which only *one* is a physical retail purchase. I doubt that ratio is typical, but I'm sure I'm not a complete outlier either.

Posted:5 months ago

#29

Jakub Mikyska
CEO

200 1,092 5.5
@ Rob: That's exactly what my Vita games library looks like as well. And most people with Vita that I know. I bought Uncharted with my Vita, but haven't purchased a physical retail game since and both AAA and indie games are digital only for me.

I think that most people with Vita are actually "older people" and have larger disposable incomes (or are at least willing to spend more on gaming than most people) and they don't need to trade-in their old games in order to purchase new ones. Once you get to this mentality, you never really get back to physical retail again and that's where most Vita owners are in my opinion.

Posted:5 months ago

#30

Neil Young
Programmer

296 372 1.3
Isn't a lot of the disagreement on attach rate here partly down to terms? As I understand it, attach rate is for a single title, tie ratio is for a system. It's entirely possible for a dev to be seeing a good attach rate for a well-targeted title even if the system as a whole has a poor tie ratio.

Posted:5 months ago

#31
I personally think the eShop interface is pretty good.

When you are browsing the games you have access to screenshots and videos right there. What makes the eShop more usable than most is the fact it's still possible to be aware of every game.

MiiUniverse should also improve this issue as the store grows.

But it's not like any of these stores are great. On the App Store unless you're in the charts you're essentially invisible.

Also btw there was a leaked sales data chart of the eShop top 10 released a couple of years ago and it was very encouraging.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by John Owens on 28th April 2014 10:33am

Posted:5 months ago

#32
We (and plenty of other developers) are seriously looking at the VITA as a great place to launch a new indie game.
It has less competition, easier discoverability, great help from Sony, and a vocal audience ravenous to pay for great new indie games.
Possibly higher start-up costs than iPhone, but then use your imagination ;-)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Simon Smith on 28th April 2014 3:15pm

Posted:5 months ago

#33

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Jakub and Rob I have far more digital than retail Vita games as well (well over 20 digital, most of which were free on PS+), but I'm sure you both like myself also have a full 32GB memory card and are in a constant state of deletion.

On the other hand I have a similar amount of digital 3DS games (and far more retail 3DS games) and have come nowhere near filling my INSANELY cheaper 32GB SD card, which I could easily replace as well. So no, I don't think the Vita has any significant digital advantage, and I think if anything likely sells far less digital product than Nintendo does on the 3DS.

Posted:5 months ago

#34

Nick Wofford
Hobbyist

180 190 1.1
@Rob
vgchartz has the tie-ratio for the Vita at 2.81 games per user. Sony claims that half of all purchases are digital. So, at best, the Vita has a tie-ratio of 5.62 games per user, which isn't great. The claim that Vita users are great purchasers is just not validated by any decent metric.

Posted:5 months ago

#35

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
@ Nick

That's actually a fairly decent tie ratio for a handheld system, which historically have had lower tie ratios than home console systems. In any case, it's very speculative. With Nintendo's software figures for 3DS, I have to wonder if they provide sales figures for digital only titles and Virtual Console titles. Without those kinds of figures, all that we're doing is drawing assumptions and conclusions from incomplete data. I'd wager though, that off an 8 million install base, even a healthy digital market isn't going to wonders for any system. Off a 45 million (and growing) base, though? It's a position Nintendo will want to take up more aggressively. Without conclusive figures, though, we've no idea how successful or non-successful the digital markets on 3DS/Vita actually are.

Just to add to the anecdotal numbers, I've owned 15 retail titles for 3DS (with ten still in my possession), I have one digital download of a 3DS title (Animal Crossing), 20 ambassador Virtual Console titles, 5 free download titles, 10 paid-for eShop exclusive titles, and 6 paid-for Virtual Console games. Remove the ambassador and free titles, and that's still 17 digital titles to one system, plus 15 retail titles over the period of ownership. Now that'll be far from the norm, particularly given the size of 3DS's userbase, but how much of the Vita base is aggressively purchasing digital content? And does that purchasing spend make up for the lack of more expensive physical retail sales, where 3DS is generating significant amounts of money?

Posted:5 months ago

#36

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,177 1,125 0.5
As a Vita owner since the launch, I'm happy with mine except for some things that may be keeping people away: Memory card pricing and the console does need more cross-play titles compatible with the PS3 or PS4. People who claim "there's nothing on the Vita to play" or whatever either don't own one, only stick to certain games or aren't really looking on PSN. Granted, outside of first and third party stuff I own or want, I'd love to see something like a Diablo III pop up on the handheld, as a good portable chase 'n chop still isn't on the handheld (sorry, Ubisoft!).

Oh, and PlayStation Plus + any Sony console makes up for a whole lot these days (but those damn memory cards still make my wallet scream).

In the case of the Vita, slow and steady may not "win" the race, but it at least keeps those of us who love the handheld happy when we see what's there to play (and buy, of course!)...

Posted:5 months ago

#37

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