It is no big secret that Sony is having a hard time getting people to adopt the PS Vita hand held which they have pitted against Nintendo’s 3DS. Nintendo has similar problems with their hand held, which they alleviated by a price drop (yes, I took the easy route and a price drop is something I think Sony should implement also). Read on for my opinion on things that need to be done before Sony looses their edge (if they had one this second go round).
1) Price drop, is obviously the most influential thing that Sony could do right now to help the situation the Vita is facing. I am not talking price drop on just the system but the games too ($40 or so is quite high for portable games). Sony has proven in the past that keeping costs low compared to competitors can be the key to success. Sony’s original Playstation came in at $100, or so, cheaper than the Sega Saturn and crushed it in sales. They also ran off and left the 800 lbs gorilla known as Nintendo and their N64 system behind by keeping first party games at about $50 (at a time when N64 carts were routinely over $60, or more). Then they came up with the whole “Greatest Hits” series of cheaper titles which cemented Sony as representing value to gamers. All of that went out the window with the PS3 and now the Vita.
The PS Vita costs about $250 (Wi-Fi only) to $300 (3G+Wi-Fi) with games hitting the $40 to $50 mark. I understand that games cost more to produce, market and generally take longer to recoup costs on than they did in days gone by. The hardware in the PS Vita is great but the price is holding it back from being a big success over the PSP (let alone anything on offer by Nintendo). Drop the price to about $175 to $225 and Sony would definitely see an up spike in sales. Nintendo wasn’t moving the 3DS at anything near “fast” till they lowered the price, Sony should follow suit and at least match the 3DS with the Wi-Fi version of the PS nVita.
2) Launch game selection is always a tricky part of marketing a new system and Sony has historically failed on this one in both the hand held market and home consoles. Systems should launch with great titles that gamers know, right out of the gate. The PS Vita does have an Uncharted game but where is Twisted Metal (not another “Head-On” title either but an actual 100% TM game), where are the sports titles that everyone hates at trade in time but are proven system sellers? What happened to Lara Croft? Why isn’t there a Gran Turismo available (or even on the radar?)? Sony should have been doing everything possible to get these titles, and more, going and ready for the launch window of the PS Vita. Again, Sony has dropped the ball here.
3) The first year of a new system’s life is important for any company. Getting fresh titles out there, games that show respect for the early adopters and make more people want the system are needed for a system to be a success. Sony should have been watching the last two years of PS3 titles and paying attention to what is “hot” and working on getting portable versions of those titles in production (Uncharted hitting so quickly along with Modnation Racers and Little Big Planet coming later this year show that Sony is at least trying in this department). A handful of good games is not going to cut it, where are arcade ports, where are the NASCAR titles and again, where are the sports titles (while great, Virtua Tennis isn’t going to satisfy, say a, basketball or baseball fan’s needs).
4) Apparently, not all of the PSP titles on the PSN are compatible with the PSVita. Nice move Sony. This should have been the number one concern (after getting original PS Vita titles out) on your minds. I mean, there are over 300 titles on the PSN that run just fine on the older, and might I add cheaper, PSP hardware. If Sony would have gotten it’s act together before the launch of the PS Vita and gotten these titles working on the newer hardware, they would have had one hell of a marketing gimmick to play with, as it is- some titles not working, others only halfway working (some people can get them to work while others can’t) and general confusion on the subject, Sony is just floundering another access point to success.
5) The memory cards that Sony went with were probably specifically to protect the system from hackers but all they are doing is screwing over the fans with a proprietary, expensive, medium that isn’t compatible with anything else in their lives. At least with the Memory Stick, Sony lifestyle adopters could use the same card across many platforms such as their PSP, cameras and computers. Not anymore and another knock against the PS Vita’s chance at success. Sometimes proprietary is a good thing but for the most part, it is a way to make gamers mad and lose sales over high prices (proprietary is nearly never cheap).
I know this sounds like a slap at Sony’s PS Vita, and believe me I have already been down this road once (back in February I wrote an editorial about how Sony could make the PS Vita a success for our sister site, Video Game Cowboys). Sadly, Sony has made the situation worse than I thought they would when I wrote that previous editorial. Come on Sony, get your act together, you have proven to the fans and developers/publishers that you won’t abandon the hardware even if you are not number one, now how about taking care of the fans that support you? We would appreciate it.