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3DS price cut puts pressure on Sony

Analysts suggest gamer expectations and smartphone competition could cause problems for PlayStation Vita

Sony is facing building pressure to cut the price of the unreleased PlayStation Vita handheld.

Bloomberg spoke to a number of analysts and found the Nintendo cuts and competition from Apple both heavily affected the outlook for the machine.

"Gamers are increasingly anticipating Sony to lower prices, especially after the 3DS cut," said Hideki Yasuda, a Tokyo-based analyst at Ace Securities.

"Sony is under major pressure to cut the price of the Vita or risk a major failure."

Gamers are increasingly anticipating Sony to lower prices, especially after the 3DS cut

Hideki Yasuda, Ace Securities

The price of Nintendo's rival handheld, the 3DS, has dropped to as low as $169. US gamers can currently expect to pay $249 to $299 for the device.

The article also pointed to competition from Apple as a possible problem for Sony.

"The market opportunity for specialist devices is shrinking rather than growing," argued Piers Harding-Rolls, a senior IHS analyst.

Koki Shiraishi, an analyst at Daiwa Securities Group also pointed to the iPhone as a potential obstacle. "The environment for portable game players has become more difficult because of smartphones."

But Shiro Mikoshiba, of Nomura Holdings was more positive, stating: "The customers Sony is targeting with its Vita are those willing to spend a lot of money. That’s a valid strategy even if the volume’s low as long as it can sustain the higher price."

The Vita will go on sale in Japan first, for around 24,980 yen ($317) for the non 3G model, but gamer Yukinobu Takeda pointed to the high cost of the machine.

"PS Vita's quite expensive," Takeda told Bloomberg. "I don't think I'll be one of those people rushing to buy it on the release date. I don't really see a reason to pay that much for another game player. I'm satisfied with my devices."

Last week Kazuo Hirai, president of Sony's Consumer and Products Services group, defended the price of the console.

"We have a very good product at a very affordable price," said Hirai.

"There's no need to lower the price just because somebody else that happens to be in the video game industry decided they were going to."

In July the Sony Corporation reported a net loss of ¥15.5 billion ($191 million) for the first quarter ended June 30.

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Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.