Viva Vita: It's not too late to rescue Sony's handheld

Sony attracted unwanted attention to PS Vita's poor sales this week - but it can still turn this console around, argues Rob Fahey

There were quite a few things in Sony's final results for fiscal 2011/12 which raised eyebrows - not least of all the headline figure, a vast loss of ¥456.7 billion (around €4.4 billion) whose only redeeming feature is that it's not quite as high as the forecast made last month. Most of Sony's real losses originated in the Consumer Products and Services Division, which filed an enormous ¥229.8 billion operating loss. That's relevant to us, because along with LCD TVs, Vaio PCs and digital cameras, that division also houses Sony Computer Entertainment and the PlayStation business.

Away from the headline figures, though, it was an omission that really got eyebrows around the industry heading for the hairline. Sony, like most hardware manufacturers, generally tells the world how many units of hardware it sold in its financial results. That held true in today's financial figures, with the company confessing to dropping sales across the board - figures for everything the firm sells were down, including the figures for its three game platforms, the PS3, PSP and PS2.

"While the industry loves the Vita, consumers simply don't seem to care about it"

Wait... Three? Yes, in spite of the detail being provided elsewhere, none of which was particularly flattering (PS3 software sales were the sole bright point), the PlayStation Vita wasn't anywhere to be found in the report. That omission was corrected by Kaz Hirai on the earnings call a little while later, with the newly anointed company boss revealing that PS Vita sales sat at 1.8 million worldwide in March. The lack of figures in the report, however, was enough to draw attention to the struggling handheld, and has raised the question of the prospects for the device once again.

Speculation as to why Sony didn't simply cite Vita figures in its report is a fairly fruitless thing to engage in. 1.8 million by the year's end is a weak figure, significantly behind the 3DS at a comparable point in its life (ahead of the steep price cut), but it's more likely that Sony simply didn't want to include a system only launched last December in a table of year-on-year comparisons than that it thought it could hide poor sales by leaving them out of the report. Vita is Sony's latest device and the focus of intense interest from the industry and media alike. Nobody was ever going to flick through Sony's presentation slides and just forget that Vita existed. Information like that simply doesn't hide or slip by quietly in the internet age.

Regardless of motive, Vita's figures are out there now, and they're dismal. The console seems to be in a very peculiar place in terms of its market position. Unlike the 3DS, which was widely derided at its launch, with every two-bit pundit having a view on why it was destined for miserable failure, the Vita seems to be genuinely well-liked. I've yet to speak to anyone, within the industry or outside it, who has a strong view that says that the Vita is a poor system, or that its software line-up was disappointing (slow since launch, perhaps, but not disappointing overall). Yet the system is struggling to achieve even the modest success (and I'm really being kind there) which the 3DS enjoyed prior to its price cut.

Does that reflect a dangerous disconnection between the games industry and its consumers? While the industry loves the Vita, consumers simply don't seem to care about it. Viewed from certain angles, that's a fairly worrying situation - but then again, it's hardly the first time this has happened. Games industry types love underdogs and have a taste for the obscure. The Neo Geo, the Saturn, the WonderSwan, the Dreamcast, the GameCube - hell, even the original Xbox - all of them are consoles resoundingly rejected by the public but utterly embraced by those within the industry. Watch the eyes of any game developer or journalist (two species with more in common than they like to admit) light up when they find a truly obscure piece of failed game hardware in a Japanese second-hand emporium, and you'll see what I mean. It's not wrong or strange for creators and those most tightly engaged with a medium to root for underdogs, and it doesn't necessarily imply that they're out of touch with their consumers.

On the other hand, that's not a very reassuring idea for Sony, who would definitely rather that its new console didn't get added to a list of companions like the DreamCast or the WonderSwan. On that front, there's good news, and there's bad news.

The good news is that Nintendo has proven firmly that even in a post-iOS world, there's a market for dedicated handheld game consoles. Worldwide sales of the 3DS are poised to blast through 20 million (if they haven't already done so), which frankly, is far ahead of what even the most optimistic observers thought possible from the device's first year or so on the market. Apple's devices dwarf Nintendo's sales, of course, but Nintendo doesn't really care - if it can maintain and even grow its market even while all of us are carrying around game-capable iOS devices in our pockets, it'll be a happy (and profitable) company. A year ago, few people thought that was possible. Once again we've been reminded that you never, ever bet against Nintendo.

"E3 will be a rare chance to change the narrative - to stop us all from talking about how little Vita is selling, and get us all talking about how exciting the line-up is"

The bad news is that Sony isn't Nintendo. PlayStation has extraordinary brand recognition, but the rapid rise of Microsoft's Xbox 360 as a PlayStation competitor in the home market demonstrates just how precarious even a strong brand position can be - and in handheld gaming, PlayStation has never enjoyed the same sort of position it occupies in the home space. Moreover, Nintendo's strengths lie in different places - not so much in its own brand (although "Nintendo" is still a great company brand in itself) as in its character and game franchises. Sony simply doesn't have anything that competes with that, a fact which it has thrown into stark relief with its recent attempt to ape Nintendo's Super Smash Brothers franchise. Time and again, Nintendo can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by rolling out a superb Mario or Zelda title, or dipping into the deep waters of its lesser (but still much-loved) franchises. Sony can't.

That's not to say that Vita can't pull itself out of this slump with some strategic (and truly excellent) software titles. More than anything else, that's exactly what the console needs - superb software that puts clear blue water between the capabilities of Vita and of 3DS, while also making the difference between Vita and iOS devices more clearly defined. That software needs to accomplish some difficult things. It needs to be a handheld title (not a home console title shoe-horned onto a smaller device, despite the dull refrain of "console quality!" we hear from so many publishers and developers), but one which leverages the power and capabilities of Vita to great effect. It needs to build fantastic word of mouth. And once Sony has one title that achieves that, it needs to repeat the success again. And again.

That's the kind of software we're going to be looking out for at E3 this year. Sony's press conference needs to be a Vita showcase of epic proportions. It needs to thrill and amaze us with the software it's got lined up for the new platform - to get fence-sitters like myself to actually get our wallets out and buy into the Vita dream. This is a rare chance to change the narrative - to stop us all from talking about how little Vita is selling, and get us all talking about how exciting the line-up is. A price-cut won't hurt, of course - it's probably essential - but even more than price cutting, that's how Nintendo pulled the 3DS out of the fire, and that's what Sony needs to do with Vita.

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Latest comments (35)

Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 5 years ago
Sony are starting to go the right route i.e. their app store with Playstation Suite. The problem is that the price of entry for consumers is still too high. They need to drop the price below 200 for both models and ideally consolidate their models into the single 3G version (ok so they are likely to choose the non-3g for consolidation).

The next area to tackle is games. Since the initial hardware release I have seen nothing new come out for the console. Games like Gravity Rush are still months away. Nintendo learned quickly from this mistake at the start of the 3DS lifecycle and now make a point of having monthly software releases for the device. The releases may not all be AAA but, they show the machine is alive and supported.
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Richard Gardner Artist, Crytek5 years ago
Honestly, the VITA needs that single title to get people buying it. Right now it just doesn't have it. With Call of Duty due by the end of this year it could be exactly what the console needs.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago
The Vita is a fantastic piece of hardware and would have been a commercial success under the old business model that ruled the industry for so long.
But there has been a revolution, fired off by the Apple App Store, and the world has changed. Consumers have changed their spending and their gaming habits for ever. There is no going back, no matter how hard Sony try.

Obviously there are many in the industry who are still in denial. But the facts about how the consumers are behaving cannot be denied.
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Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship5 years ago
Agree with Bruce. Not only has the app store & smart phone era hugely grown the market, I think it's also the case that plenty of the so-called core gamer market seem to be satisfied with what they're playing on their phones. I know I certainly am. Haven't bought a handheld since the 3DS, and likely won't again.

When the choice was between some Java-based snake clone versus Mario Kart on the 3DS or God of War on PSP, enough core games would choose the latter, even given the cost and hassle of carrying an extra device. But what's available on iOS and Android now is a breathtaking array of choice, with enough hardcore experiences to narrow the gap between mobile and handheld sufficiently that the extra cost and hassle comes back into play.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
I would argue that there's a multitude of reasons why the Vita isn't performing well, and only some of them relate to marketing, tech specs and mobile gaming.

Whilst it can be argued that this time last year was bad for the average consumer in the UK/Europe, this year is even worse - the number of redundancies has increased, the number of jobs paying above minimum wage have decreased (hell, the number of vacancies has decreased markedly), and those with jobs are far less certain to keep them for any length of time now. The one true gaming demographic with money to burn - students - no longer look forward to graduation and a definite job, unless they're in one of a handful of specialisations (compsci, engineering, law). Budget cuts and austerity measures coupled with inflation in the cost of living means that everyone is more wary with what spare money they have.

In short, No, the Vita doesn't have a killer app that markets the platform, and yes, a lot of what I write above isn't relevant to the US, which is slowly climbing out of the doldrums. But people have to bear in mind that gaming is a luxury, and sometimes the simplest explanation - a lack of money in the consumer's hands - is the right one.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 5 years ago

This economic gloom and doom isn't stopping the whole smartphone marketplace from exploding.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bruce Everiss on 11th May 2012 11:00am

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
@ Bruce

Because using the fact that people buy lots of $1 games (or in some instances $10 games) refutes my argument that people can't afford a £200 console, and then games? :)

You could argue that people owning smartphones refutes my argument, but then how many people have their iOS or Android device on contract? £20/30 a month is expensive in the long-run, but is only £5-£7 a week, which people can disregard (unless you're truly poor, which more and more people in this country are). But generally, people rationalise smaller amounts of money easier, and can accept such payouts week-on-week - just look at how much money people spend on cigarettes, as an example.
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Rob Fahey Columnist, GamesIndustry.biz5 years ago
Nor is it stopping Nintendo from racking up huge sales of the 3DS. The smartphone market is a new challenge to handheld gaming, but it's fairly apparent from the 20 million units Nintendo has sold of its new console that it's absolutely not a zero-sum game. Contrary to what some of you seem to be saying, it's obvious that a market remains for dedicated hardware for the foreseeable future - Sony's challenge is to grab that market in the face of competition from smartphones and the 3DS.
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Zan Toplisek5 years ago
@ Bruce: You're saying the social/mobile games are the main reason for the slowdown in handheld sales. That traditional handheld market is done for. You're right, but not to the extent you believe yourself. How can you then explain the fantastic 3DS numbers? The 3DS has outsold DS by about 1m units in their respective first 14 months in the market! What about that?

And Nintendo hasn't really done anything significant in terms of their business model yet, it's still very traditional.

I find it interesting how disillusioned social/mobile game advocates are these days :).

P.S. I support both in the same way. I don't rave just about console success, but also social/mobile. I believe in a coexistence (convergence in the future) of the two, not one replacing the other as in disruptive innovation and all that.
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 5 years ago
Rob: "It needs to be a handheld title (not a home console title shoe-horned onto a smaller device, despite the dull refrain of "console quality!" we hear from so many publishers and developers), but one which leverages the power and capabilities of Vita to great effect."

This I think is Sony's biggest problem. I personally have never believed that they have truly understood what the appeal of their handheld(s) should be or what their KSPs are. Good graphics and dual analogue sticks are not going to lead to games that have "only on Vita" written on them.

Also I think that the IP issue is becoming more and more of a problem for Sony. As Rob mentions, their IPs are full of "who?" characters, from the mass market perspective, whereas almost every other publisher on the planet has a character that has mass appeal.

If you buy a Nintendo system, you automatically know that you will get some benefit from the games they release because you KNOW they will release their classic franchises. Most people will find something appealing about those games, be it you or your family. Sony's big IP by contrast is STILL aimed at 10-21yo boys with the exception of LBP, Uncharted and franchises that have disappeared, despite gaining mass appeal last generation (I'm looking at Buzz and the EyeToy brands particularly).
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John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London5 years ago
I can't help thinking Vita would have done a bit better if they'd released in the west before Christmas and delayed the Japanese release until they had more local games ready for release, instead of the other way around. Their launch strategy seemed ass backwards even when they first announced it, and the poor sales and negative sentiment about the console's long term chances have really reflected that.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 5 years ago
Cant they just lower the price and stop making games for VITA that are already on Ps3?
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Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek5 years ago
I own both the 3DS and Vita, and I think their strengths and weaknesses very much mirror their predecessor's.
The vita doesn't really offer unique experiences you can't get anywhere else, and, like the PSP, is "just" a portable playstation, while the 3DS has two screens and 3D as defining features that meaningfully contribute to the experience.
The PSP could manage because it was riding the success wave of the PS2, but overall, it was far from doing as well as people had expected.
Sony is no longer dominating the home console market, which affects vita sales as well. That, and there is still no killer app while the 3DS has mario land, mario kart and monster hunter already.
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Tom Tapper5 years ago
I think one of the Vita's major problems is that it is incomplete hardware. Many of the games require an over priced, proprietary memory card and the Vita is already at a premium price. I think people who get to the store and are thinking of picking up a Vita start tallying up everything they need to start out and realize that after a game and a memory card they are spending $400 USD. I think your average customer, especially parents, are going to find that way too much considering you can get a 3DS and a game for about half that price.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 5 years ago
There is a nice Sony slogan one could apply to iPads and Droid tablets: they only do everything.

Apart from that, I find myself agreeing with Bruce Everiss on the business model side of things. Especially Apple brought down the running costs of entertainment drastically. At least on a per piece basis, never mind that we now spend more than before on a flood of trinket apps and single serving entertainment.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D5 years ago
Morville is spot on. There are a lot of issues, but the economic situation is the elephant in the room that is being overlooked. People just don't have the money.

Bruce, mobile phones are nearly always subsidised for people by the networks.
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Sony's biggest problem with the PSV is (unlike Nintendo) it can't afford to drop the price. It was/is already priced "low" (remember the buzz last E3 around the price of the device).

Compared to previous handhelds, and other devices it *is* cheap - the problem being most people now own "similar" hardware and can't justify spending the money on it.

The worst thing Sony could do is drop the price (to the point where they are making a BIG loss on the device), and it starts to sell like nothing else - magnifying their losses, at a time when they need a different, profitable strategy.

The possibly (fatal?) mistake Sony made was making the PSV not backwards compatible (by dropping the drive). The PSP is a real competitor to the PSV, with a huge library, and super-cheap (2nd hand) games. It also forces PSP fans to carry both devices around. The fact that the PSP has been outselling the PSV in Japan since launch is really telling (and won't change anytime soon) - it may take 2-3 years before the PSV has a library that gets close to convincing PSP fans to swap. Look at the 3DS sales, and the complete drop-off in DS sales - Nintendo are so comfortable with the situation, the next Pokemon title will still be for the DS (yet its 3DS sales that will boost).

The only obvious thing (IMO) that can save Sony at this stage is software - they need some amazing software, exclusive to the PSV ... and they need it in the next few months. It absolutely needs to sell enough (software) units to stand on its own feet and not just get ported to the PS3 3-6 months after release.
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Joe Bassi Managing Director & Business Development, Mertech Data Systems5 years ago
I would say Sony started a long series of bad strategies since they removed the Linux support in the PS3 but this is for another opportunity.

I have the PSP and extracted a lot of fun of it and then I bought the PSP Go in Paris few days after its launching (250 Euros, I do remember) and it’s was only frustration… PS Vita now?? Never mind!!

The PSP Go should have been what today is the PS Vita and Sony knew that – the technology was available at that time. Now I’m very sorry, we have iPhones and iPads. But what just Sony knows how to do best is (i) produce electronics more expensive than Samsung and (ii) turn obsolete very quickly their own products.

Just other day I read: “It’s obviously a very hi-spec machine, and you can do lots of things with it, but I don’t really see the combination of software and hardware that really makes a very strong product.” This was said by Miyamoto. It seems the PS Vita will be a very good addition to Sony’s loss strategy.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joe Bassi on 11th May 2012 3:36pm

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Nick Parker Consultant 5 years ago
The global PS Vita sell-through to consumers stands at 1.65 million units at the end of March. The 1.8 million from Kaz Hirai refers to sales to retail so there is about 150k inventory in stores. We can speculate as to why hardware doesn't sell but in the history of this industry, curiosity and early adopters do not drive long term sales; the name of the game is still the games. When Sony provide a reason to buy the Vita, as in launching some great games, then boxes will start to shift. After all, despite all the whistles and bells, it is primarily a games machine and my smart phone does the rest. Oh and maybe interoperability with a certain PS4 may help sell some more.
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Richard Gardner Artist, Crytek5 years ago
Its to easy to make the assumption that mobile is destroying the handheld market when as many people have already said, the Nintendo 3DS is selling more than ever before. Its easy to come to the conclusion in your head, but honestly... after playing most mobile games on my smartphone I'm pretty confident in saying mobile and handheld are two different worlds. The games you get on mobile don't come close to the gaming experience you get on a handheld. They are two very different consumer experiences.

Now I'm not saying its always going to be like this. But right now the gaming experience you get from a handheld blows mobile out of the water. But what I find interesting is that the profits being made from mobile are considerably larger than handheld's, but yet the gaming experience does not match it...

It very much feels like mobile has this money grab bubble around it with not many developers actually investing in a core gaming experience.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Richard Gardner on 11th May 2012 4:57pm

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Christopher Garratty Associate Counsel, Activision Blizzard5 years ago
As a Vita owner I can say that it's a great device. The stable of big ticket games so far Rayman, Wipeout, Uncharted are all solid - excellent titles. The problem is that there aren't more on the horizon. Gravity Rush is about the only Vita title in the near future that I am chomping at the bit for, oh and Resistance looks pretty good too, and Little Big Planet... Maybe awareness is the issue? Cos it's only when I think about it that I remember there are good titles coming.

Sony needs to drop some big hitters for Vita at E3, God of War, Killzone, infamous, get some third party involvement a la Assassin's Creed, CoD and so on.

As several people have already said, software sells hardware.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
I completely disagree with Bruce, as do 20+ million 3DS owners. Also, apparently Bruce hasn't been reading the recent articles on App store sales, in that less than 10% of iOS games even break even, and less than 5% of iOS developers earn enough money to run a business off developing for the platform (and many of those 5% are large publishers like Capcom, EA, and Zynga, leaving very little for the little guy). Even those that do make money are hardly making a fortune. Mario Kart 7 alone has earned more revenue than Infinity Blade has as a franchise. Hardly the golden goose Bruce likes to make it out to be in every single article on these forums.

As for the actual quality of games being enough for core gamers, it really isn't. I would trade every game I have on my smartphone and tablets to have one game of the quality of Ocarina of Time 3D or Super Mario 3D Land. The gap there is ridiculously big. Those iOS touch-controlled derivative clones are not even close to the real thing, and there's a reason nothing above $10 has any real success on the platform.

Don't get me wrong, I play mobile games, and will continue to do so, but that's never going to stop me from playing the full rich experiences that I get on dedicated portables, game consoles, and PC, and because of the ecosystem of mobile development we're nowhere near getting that kind of quality on those platforms. The headlining game, Infinity Blade, is Fruit Ninja with armor....

As for Vtia itself, the article is absolutely right. A price cut would help, but what really matters is games, and it's certainly not time to write it off yet. Vita needs games that make people stand up and say "I can only have that experience on that platform, and I need to buy it right now." 3DS has those games, and is already well on its way to extraordinary worldwide success. Vita can still get there, even with its rocky start.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 12th May 2012 1:56am

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Richard Hill-Whittall Director, Icon Games5 years ago
A combination of a growing catalogue of Vita native titles, and upcoming Playstation Suite accessibility I think will ensure a much brighter future after a shaky start.

Sony (SCEE) right now are far and away the most developer friendly platform holder - and they are continually opening up more to studios of all sizes.
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Dominic Jakube Student 5 years ago
In Australia a Vita, memory card and a couple of games all costs $500, to put that in perspective you could get a PS3 and a 32 inch HD LCD tv for $600 with a couple of old games bundled.
I bought a 3DS I saw for $145 pre-owned as an impulse buy today,Im not gonna plunk down $400 the cheapest Vita plus memory card price as an impulse.
Then again give it time the original PSP was $400 here when it first came out and that went on to become reasonably sucsessful here.
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Ken Varley Owner & Freelance Developer, Writer, Devpac5 years ago
I'm not buying this mobile gaming and apps store rubbish. That wasn't the reason when the PSP went to waste whilst the NDS was storming ahead.

The same is happening again with the 3DS and Vita. The 3DS isn't being hit by mobiles and apps store. Sony is the problem. Unrealistic promises, higher price point and poor game support.

It took a huge price cut, and better game support for the 3DS to start replicating the NDS success.
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Robert Barrow Information Security Analyst 5 years ago
As an avid gamer and owner of a freshly baked Vita, and having finished Uncharted, Lego Harry Potter,and honed my skills in Stardust I have to say that I am very impressed with the hardware itself. But now I'm thinking where's the sugar?

No Netflix, LoveFilm, no iPlayer, youtube?. No games incoming apart from Gravity Rush and Resistance. It's the lack of attention grabbing software that helping kill it as well as the economy.

Hopefully E3 will be a real eye opener.
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Bruce Kennedy BAhons Creative Director, Kennedy Monk Limited5 years ago
We look at things with our eyes... and LOOKS COUNT. The vita just looks like the psp! The native UI interface is embarrassing poor! My little girl's v-tech mobi-go looks better! As the must-have object of desire, the vita is a tragic fail. Sony - learn from Apple, or perhaps any high-end retail company for that matter - looks count!! Remember the original ugly DS? Slow sales, consumer shrugs. The exact same hardware went ballistic once it got a sexy face lift and morphed into a tiny white iBook. If the Vita was supposed to be the future of mobile gaming should have LOOKED like a new generation device and not, as many see it, the end of an old one. I suppose it's not too late to copy Nintendo's wisdom. Relaunch the vita with some cutting edge industrial design - sexy space-metal maybe? Hell, why not copy the MacBook Air's sleek lines. Then watch millions of slathering wannabe hardcore mobile gamers change their minds and reach in to their pockets.

As a footnote, just to prove I'm not so shallow to preach that only 'pretty sniney, never-been-seen-before' things sell, the other OBVIOUS BLUNDER Sony have made is clinging on to physical media. Hello? Sony are you there? Hello... Sony, the future is downloads. Yes, downloads. Any questions? No, there are no questions...its downloads, got it?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bruce Kennedy BAhons on 11th May 2012 7:05pm

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Antony Cain Lecturer in Computer Games Design, Sunderland College5 years ago
I'm going to whittle the next 15 minutes of this train ride away by hitting the star next to Nicholas Pantazis's comment.
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Jason Sartor Copy editor/Videographer, Florida Today5 years ago
Sony just doesn't get the handheld market.

Handhelds are great for kids riding in the car.

Parents and adults can't play games when they drive, 25-year-old men won't pull out a Vita to play on a date, at the pub or at a sporting event - a lot of people don't have the option to game on the go in a lot of markets (any place that does not have a massive public transit system).

Parents will play the PS3 with their kids and friends and spouse, and if your single and no kids and want to play Uncharted - who wants to sit in a corner at home playing on a 4-inch screen when you have a HDTV 10 times the size with a full size controller? I can't think of anybody who would prefer playing the same game on a handheld.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 5 years ago
Dont compare VITA to mobile phones, the iphone comes free with a 2 year contract. people only pay for that because a phone serves more of an utility, its something people use everyday and need for most things, like work, business, networking and sales. The VITA would have benefited from a lower price point. And its catalog of games is not strong at all, mostly being PS3 games most people own. And if its just to play games I wouldnt pay that much for any hardware. Itjust happens that the iPHONE as as a phone, people are willing to get into contracts since its something they use everyday. playing games on the go really isnt that big of a deal. Games like Zelda and mass effect are games that work on home consoles but not mobile. Mobile games need to be taylored to be... well... mobile. Games like angry birds, tetris, pacman, work. They are quick easy gaming fixes you can get on the move and can quickly put away when you need to cross the street, catch a bus or go back to work. Games like Zelda and uncharted or xenoblade require much thinking and you just cant abandone them while your in the middle of solving a problem. its like making a huge math equation half way coming back and being totally lost. Mobile game consoles are being sold as if they were home consoles, and what works for a home console doesnt necessarily work for a portabal game console. And the price, its just too high, I cant stress that enough. 400$ to play tekken vs street fighter? get outta here.
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Richard Gardner Artist, Crytek5 years ago

Remember that the PSP sold like hot cakes, software sales where slow compared to the DS and piracy was high, but they put out a hell of a lot of hardware. Nicholas hit the nail on the head with everything he said, I'm really not sure why you started rambling about the looks of the platform...

Also on your comments about physical media, there is still a market for it. I believe its currently around 50/50 for physical vs digital console games. Although that's going of something I read a while ago and could be wrong. The retailer still plays a big part in today's market, they might need a face lift for the future. But right now even if it was only 20% of sales it would still be worth it.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Richard Gardner on 11th May 2012 10:47pm

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Joe Bassi Managing Director & Business Development, Mertech Data Systems5 years ago
Just came back here to see new posts and see a lot of people looking into a microscope. Of course the PS Vita is a nice portable – the best, really – but it doesn’t matter. The different experience of playing games on a mobile and on a dedicated device is kind of different, I agree… for us, gamers. For the rest of people over there? None because majority of new consumers are people playing games in tablets and smartphones - they are not hardcore gamers. Do you think you will sell to them PS Vita based on its specs? No. Cutting prices? No again.

PS Vita will fail. In terms of market share, what differentiate the PS Vita from the miserable PSP Go? Please point it out because I really don’t know.

The cruelty reality: success nowadays is reserved to those who commit fewest mistakes. Apple have made very few errors. Sony, otherwise, well start counting…

Oh, I don’t agree saying there are no one good game for the iPad worth 10 bucks. For sure I played one: Dead Space.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Oh, good lord, already. Weren't we having the SAME conversation a year ago about the 3DS being a miserable failure because it had no good launch titles,the 3D was too gimmicky, certain key games were delayed for too long, there were too many rehashes AND mobile was going to kill it off before the year was out?

A year later, and yep, that 3D is still gimmicky, but the system is selling like hotcakes and even the harshest Nintendo skeptic (save for a few mobile/casual worshiping doom-sayers here and elsewhere who seem to want to see a lot of people in this industry unemployed) has to admit he or she was very wrong. Hell, I'm ONE of those skeptics. There are still a bunch of things I don't like about the 3DS, but I certainly respect it and Nintendo for proving me wrong.

Hell, it seems like no one listens to common sense nor pays attention to mistakes made by others. Sony made the same critical error Nintendo did in tossing the Vita into the pool before it could swim and now they need to call in the lifeguard or the coroner, based on the decisions they choose over the next quarter or so.

I think the system should have launched this holiday season with a MUCH stronger lineup rolling out over the first month or two into 2013: Gravity Rush, Resistance Retribution, Uncharted, Ruin, LittleBigPlanet and others PLUS retooled versions of games that shipped out with problems (Ridge Racer's lame track/cark selection and "Hey' go play online because the main mode blows!" deserves a do-over for Namco's sake).

Add in some stupidly obvious game choices that aren't yet seen (where the hell are Vita versions of Starhawk, Twisted Metal, God of War and other first-party faves? Where's the big RPG system seller?) and yes, Sony deserves a boot in the ass for not thinking gamers wouldn't notice.

All of those games I mentioned above and more could have some cross-platform play with the PS3, but it seems that Sony is holding that back or has devs working on games we have yet to see (How many of you don't care about MLB The Show having it because it's just a damn sports game? I'm one of those folks who says "Who cares - where's my fantasy/action/shooter/whatever?")

My own Vita gets daily use, but I'm playing the same few games I like again and keeping my toes crossed that someone out there is working on games I'd like to see rather than games I won't even go near because they're trying too hard to appeal to a crowd that probably wouldn't buy a Vita in the first place.

Sony needs to focus on a market (the core games who wants that PlayStation experience and doesn't mind owning a phone and a separate gaming system) BECAUSE it can do some things better, and hell, has done some things better previously.

I guess we'll see what E3 brings. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Sony makes less mistakes and starts dropping some major announcements...
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Bruce Kennedy BAhons Creative Director, Kennedy Monk Limited5 years ago
@ Richrd Gardner - I'm not sure if you've got me mixed up with the other Bruce on this thread. Either way, yes fair enough, was a bit of a rant agreed! I guess what I was getting at was there's just not enough differentiation here to the casual observer. You have to win those folks over as much or even more than the highly informed.

My point about downloads is simply the method of delivery. The app store etc. have changed the way we buy games in terms of convinence. Unfortunately its also changed the perceived cost of mobile games which I personally think is a shame for great titles and needs to be re-balanced. Regardless, buying habits have changed, as another commenter put it, forever. Sony pushing yet another new physical format for Vita just personally annoys me. Ultimately if the games are killer it's not a huge issue, but it still feels like a 'tax' people are less and less willing to pay.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Bruce Kennedy BAhons on 12th May 2012 5:34am

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Preet Basson Train2Game Developer 5 years ago
This was doomed to fail. The 3DS was a success after a failed start but that because Nintendo, have been in handheld for over 20 year, that would be a slap in their face if that got that wrong. Sony have not done their research at all, their are banking on people that own PS3 to get a VITA & people that between 20-30. Question is when their are more superior products out their why would you get this, tablets like smartphone are only get powerfully, in less than 2yrs we going to have smartphones that will superior to this. The only difference between smartphones and say VITA, after 2 years you get a new phone, You are not getting a new vita.
Compare Smartphones, Tablets & handhelds over than last 5yrs. Sony did not need this product they should have learned their lesson with PSP & PS3.
If Nintendo can do something they will but other wise this handheld gaming is finished.
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