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PlayStation Vita "still viable" - Sony

Sony Interactive Entertainment America president and CEO Shawn Layden also confirms that PSVR has sold over 1m units

With the popularity of the Nintendo Switch at the moment, some players have felt that PlayStation Vita was unfortunately ahead of its time as a more high-end portable device. The Sony handheld has struggled to make significant inroads, selling around 4 million units since launching at the end of 2011, but Sony Interactive Entertainment America president and CEO Shawn Layden still believes in the system, while acknowledging that it's mostly for Asian markets at this point.

"Vita is still a viable platform," Layden told The Verge, "chiefly in the Japanese and Asian markets. We still have developers in Japan who are building for that platform. But it just didn't get over the hump in Europe and America. It's hard to know exactly why, but it didn't garner a large enough audience here for us to continue to build for it."

Vita may not have become a mainstream portable in the way that Nintendo handhelds have historically but it did carve out a niche among the indie community. In fact, back in 2013, Sony went out of its way to highlight indies on Vita with their own category on the PlayStation Store. Again, Vita may have been ahead of its time; since then we've seen Nintendo and Xbox both put a focus on indies for their respective platforms as well.

As for another niche PlayStation platform, Sony today also confirmed that its PlayStation VR headset has sold over 1 million units. This shouldn't come as a surprise given that the company already announced it had sold 915,000 back in February. Considering, however, that the PS4 installed base is around 60 million, Layden commented to The Verge, "It's still just a million units," he says.

That said, Sony is expecting a "second wave" of titles to soon hit PSVR. We saw the launch of Farpoint last month, and at E3 next week, we'll no doubt hear about more PSVR titles on the way. "When a new console or a new platform launches, there's a lot of activity driving launch day," Layden said. "And then there's the inevitable lull between that and the next launch of titles. I think we're seeing that happening now. Farpoint is the lead of that, and we'll be talking about a number of other titles at E3."

Sony noted that 5.25 million units of software for PlayStation VR have been sold, and that PSVR owners average about 25 minutes per play session.

As PSVR demand increases, Sony is confident it will have the supply in 2017 to meet that demand. Layden commented, "We'll have freer supply in the marketplace. We got to a point around Christmas where you would be hard-pressed to find VR anywhere. So we dialed back some of our promotional activity at that time because we didn't want to be promoting a platform for people to find out they couldn't get it. I didn't want to create more unhappy customers."

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Latest comments (3)

James Prendergast Research Chemist 4 months ago
I think the Vita is a great (if under-supported) platform. It's always the device I take with me on holiday. I think the two biggest mistakes with the platform were the rear touch panel and the proprietary storage format - the former gets almost no use in any of the games I've played, the latter limits what I have on the device and forces me to delete and re-download stuff all the time... especially with the content provided by PS+.
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Nave Barlev4 months ago
@James Prendergast: couldn't agree more. It's s great system that deserves more love from Sony. The rear touch panel is indeed a missed opportunity, and I would add the lack of L2R2 shoulder buttons as another major issue, especially since it considerably limits the use of the system for remote play. Remote play on the vita is a wonderful feature, but Sony made it much less viable without L2R2. The front touch screen and rear touch panel are hardly an alternative, and since there is no way to map button layout for using 3rd Party peripherals, one of the best features of the system is practically useless for most games.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 4 months ago
There's a kickstarted accessory Amazon is now going to carry that adds L2/R2
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