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PlayStation Vita launch will be "a car wreck"

Failed 3DS is evidence that consumers don't want single-function portable consoles, says Heavy Iron

Sony is about to launch its new handheld games console into a market that has fundamentally changed since the success of mobile devices, and is likely heading for a costly and ultimately doomed launch.

That's according to Lyle Hall and Matthew Seymour at Heavy Iron Studios, who believe the console is over-priced - but more importantly - that consumers have already demonstrated that they are no longer willing to pay out for single-function games devices.

"If people aren't willing to pay $249 for a Nintendo 3DS why would they pay $299 for Vita? People don't want to carry more than one thing in their pocket, that’s why Android and iPhone have done so well, they are the devices of choice, they offers multiple functions outside of gaming," Hall told GamesIndustry.biz.

I just don't know there's a market out there anymore for the hardware. I can’t see why you would want to put a device out that only does games

Lyle Hall, Heavy Iron Studios

"People don’t want it. That's Nintendo huge challenge - how do they add value to that?

Seymour, who has worked for 2K Games and Microsoft Games Studios in a career spanning 20 years, was more blunt in his assessment. "With all due respects to Sony and Vita, it's a car wreck. And how about Xperia Play? I'd love to pull up the numbers on that."

The PlayStation Vita is due this year in Japan and early next year in the US and Europe. The system will be taking centre stage at Gamescom this week, as Sony looks to position itself at the forefront of portable gaming after rival Nintendo launched the 3DS to muted response from consumers.

Less than six months since the launch of the 3DS the system has had its price unceremoniously halved in Europe, and is suffering from a lack of software and the perception that it's a simple upgrade to the DS family of consoles.

Sony's most recent attempts in the handheld market haven't been successful either. The digital-only PSPgo is largely forgotten and its mobile collaboration with Sony Ericsson - the Xperia Play - had no significant marketing push behind it.

Despite a harsh assessment of the Vita, Heavy Iron would like to see the machine succeed, said Hall, but it's the consumer that has voted with its wallet and changed the market.

"The technology is sweet, I'm a huge fan of mobile technology, but I just don't know there's a market out there anymore for the hardware. I can’t see why you would want to put a device out that only does games.

"The consumer has spoken. We wanted to see that world exist - more players, more opportunities for us, but at the same time people don't want that. Unless there's a super technology paradigm shift it’s not going to shift back."

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Matt Martin avatar

Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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