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Sony planning "more tailored approach" to Vita software pricing

Multiple price-points expected, but publisher confident it can "sustain" premium pricing on triple-A games

PlayStation Europe boss Jim Ryan has revealed that Sony is planning to offer multiple price-points for Vita software to combat the growing threat of cheap smartphone games to its handheld business.

While the company has yet to confirm details ahead of the console's European launch next February, Ryan told "I think it would be safe to assume we will take a more tailored approach than perhaps we've done in the past."

Speaking in London last week following confirmation of the first-party launch titles in Europe, Ryan admitted it would be "foolish and naïve to ignore what's happening" in the smartphone sector.

"It's our challenge to ensure that the gaming experience that we provide is closer to that TV console experience than it is to your 69p thing that you've downloaded on your iPhone," he added.

If we provide great value on games like Uncharted, I think the possibility to sustain historic console price points is there

Jim Ryan, Sony Europe

"If we do that and we provide great value to the consumer on games like Uncharted, I think the possibility to sustain historic console type price points is there."

One launch title that may be priced lower than premium is the newly-announced MotorStorm RC from Evolution Studios, coming to Vita and PlayStation 3 as a digital download, with cross-platform functionality.

Evolution group game director Matt Southern said: "We've not announced the price yet, but we have announced that for one price you'll get both versions". Later last week, during a panel discussion at Develop Liverpool, Southern added that the studio was in dialogue with Sony over pricing, hinting that a lower-than-premium point was preferred.

Further seeking to differentiate Vita from its smartphone rivals, Ryan said: "Absolutely it does do other things, but it has been designed as a gaming device, and a perfectly logical consequence of that is that the gaming experiences you can have on Vita are superior to what is possible on a device that has other functionality at its heart."

Elsewhere, Ryan admitted that predicting the relative popularity of the 3G and wi-fi only models of Vita was something "we agonise over endlessly internally". However, he said Sony expected the wi-fi model would "just shave it" in numbers.

"But the truth be told, we just don't know," he continued. "This is one area where we're going to have to be very nimble internally and if consumer preference skews one way or another we will adjust very rapidly to meet what the true underlying consumer demand is."

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Johnny Minkley: Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.
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