The Playstation Vita has been out in Europe and the US for over 2 months now, and more than 5 in Japan yet still hasn’t been able to pick up the pace on it’s sales figures. Nintendo had a similar debut, its price point, launch lineup and marketing strategy was heavily criticized, but Nintendo quickly managed to turn things around 3 months after release by introducing a price drop, and further incentives to buy their system.
Of course the same option is open to Sony. However I fear Sony’s Vita woes won’t be as simple a fix as Nintendo’s. Much of Nintendo’s problem came from the branding, and the fact that people thought the ’3DS’ was just a ds with a 3D screen. Something you can forgive people for thinking considering all the other models of DS their have been in the past. However obviously awareness that it is actually a new product eventually spread, and that combined with the significant price drop enabled Nintendo to quickly turn things around.
The Vita’s hardware costs are estimated at $160. So a pricecut is probably still on the cards for some point this year. I’m sure that itself will boost sales somewhat what I feel is perhaps most concerning for Sony at this stage is the Vita’s inability to establish it’s own identity as of yet. The Vita has been quoted in the past as ‘soulless’ relative to it’s Nintendo counterpart, and it’s not something that’s easy to disagree with.
Whilst Nintendo’s platforms ‘soul’ comes quite naturally. Sony have never really managed to establish their identity in the portable market. Thankfully developers like Capcom managed to do so for them with impressive, exclusive titles like Monster Hunter, but with Monster Hunter now on the 3DS this leaves Sony to shape the identity of their own console, unfortunately it doesn’t seem like their own launch lineup is liable to cut it.
Little Big Planet Vita, a nice game, but something near identical to what we have on PS3, Modnation Racers, essentially a bad port of the Playstation 3 version of Modnation Racers, Uncharted Golden Abyss, again a dumbed down version of what’s already established, and done better on the Playstation 3. It’s difficult to see people putting down $200 to play the games that play better on their home consoles. With Nintendo having unique, exclusive IPs associated with their portable hardware already, like Pokemon and the isometric Legend of Zelda games, combined with fresh IPs like Kid Iccarus. It’s easy to see what Nintendo are doing right, and what Sony are doing wrong.
It’s still very early days. We have titles like Gravity Rush set to release on the Playstation Vita in a matter of weeks, which has already earned itself a very respectable critical reception I’m certain titles like this, and Soul Sacrifice can enable Sony to cultivate the Playstation Vita’s identity as something other than a system for portable PS3 games overtime.