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Five Reasons Sony is Killing The PS Vita’s Success

PlayStation-Vita-PSVita-logo

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.

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  • Jim Leyhe

    Well, while I agree, the only thing I can say to this article is just have patience… wait until E3… the system has only been out for 2 months… I want everything you have discussed for future buyers (as I already own this) but at the same time, I’m pretty content with my Vita… in fact I play on it more than my PS3… and Mortal Kombat… which came out forever ago… but i haven’t been able to put it down.. the fact that i can lay in my bed, pick up my system, and play a great game online is totally awesome. It is a shame that people won’t buy a system because they were concerned with sales from Japan.. i mean sh!t… they just had a freakin’ tsunami and earthquake… but look at the update for the Vita store today! more psp games and mini’s, like a crap-ton more.

    • http://www.gamingonbatteries.com triverse

      I agree with you, Jim. Sony proved with the PSP that they don’t have to be number one and that they are in this for the long haul and come E3, and later this after that, I think the Vita is going to shine. I love the hardware and think it is awesome, I just wish Sony could sell more of them (and I think that if there was a price drop to a minimum of matching the 3DS with the Wi-Fi version they could easily take this generation of portables).

  • http://www.videogamecowboys.com Modern_Zorker

    I think both Nintendo and Sony bungled the ball this time around in the portable realm. Sony’s biggest issue right now, as Triverse raises, is the price tag. The system, one memory card that is useless outside of a Vita, and a game to play on it is far too much for the average consumer to justify with the economy where it’s at. A lack of Sony-brand titles and/or mascots besides Uncharted at launch hasn’t helped anything either.

    The 3DS was met with yawns because while the 3D effect is cool, there’s not a whole lot being done to show why or how it improves portable gameplay (beyond the “Hey, doesn’t this look neat?” factor). Unlike the DS stylus which allows tons of interactivity and game design choices, the 3DS is just a one-trick pony. “It’s Zelda…in 3D!” “It’s Mario…in 3D!” Hordes of gamers responded with “And…?” And Nintendo had nothing.

    Color me “meh” on this round of portables so far. I doubt I’m alone in this assessment.

    • Hicken

      “far too much for the average consumer”

      Are gamers “average consumers,” or are they gamers? Last time I checked, gamers understood that gaming was an expensive hobby. And, last time I checked, the Vita was aimed at gamers, not the average consumer. The system’s price was lauded by gamers… until the 3DS dropped its retail price. Now, suddenly, the Vita- which is worth more than Sony’s asking price already- should do the same?

      The price for the memory cards is expensive, and they’re usable only in the Vita. There’s a reason for that, and I’m sure you know full well what that reason is. And if you understand the implications for it being proprietary(what it means for the Vita), then I’m certain it’s clear to you that the price Sony asks for the memory cards is justified. If you can’t, I invite you to select a memory format that was NOT expensive at inception, among the other “faults” the Vita’s cards supposedly have.

  • http://www.gamingonbatteries.com Nickerous

    While I was very foolish to buy the 3DS at launch, it has become the system of choice for me. Much more so than any other that I currently own. It ain’t all roses, though. Mario tennis Open was a title I was very much looking forward to play. Now, Nintendo announces no global internet play like MK7, no RPG level up modes (outside of Mii custimization), and not much in the way of extras. Makes me want to go play Mario Tennis on the GBA. That one was fantastic.

    I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Vita and seriously considered picking one up a few weeks ago when Gamestop offered a free game and case with the system. I’m not expecting a price drop this year, but a bundle with a game, memory card, and quite possibly a themed system is not out of the question. The PSP had many themed versions. Sony’s E3 conference should be a good idea of where they want to go with the Vita. Personally, the reason I did not pull the trigger on the GS deal was that there’s nothing I really want to play on the system. Hopefully, Sony will fix that at E3.

  • Hicken

    1. There is no need for a price drop. End of discussion. If you can’t afford it, save up some more money, but- while it would be awesome if it was cheaper- there is nothing wrong with the Vita’s current price.

    2. There are plenty of games to play, and more are coming. (I’ll address the sports games later.) You want a Twisted Metal? How about waiting until one’s made? TWO MONTHS have gone by, for Christ’s sake. And what do you expect Sony to do about Tomb Raider? That’s on Square Enix, not them. The PSP got its Gran Turismo just a few years ago; to the best of my knowledge, only PD makes GT games, and not only are they constantly supporting GT5, but I understand that 6 is already in development at some level Seriously, what are you expecting in launch games? I certainly hope you complained about the launch lineups of every other system that’s ever released.

    3. For the most part, see above, particularly the last sentence.

    4. You show me another… anything electronic that launched with as many ambitious concepts and did NOT suffer some setbacks. Even if “not every” game works, there’s still a helluva lot of them that DO. But then, I’m guessing you know exactly how long it takes to test every one of those games to make sure they work fine in each region(and don’t have any software exploits that can lead to the system being hacked).

    5. Name the last cheap proprietary memory. Now name the last handheld that was hacked to death because, while the memory format was proprietary, it was usable on a bunch of other stuff, as well(I can actually think of TWO here). Let’s be real: the memory cards are an attempt at preventing a repeat of the PSP’s hacking debacle; a gamer may not be too happy about the price, but it honestly should not be that big of a freaking deal if it means more games and support for the system.

    “(while great, Virtua Tennis isn’t going to satisfy, say a, basketball or baseball fan’s needs)”

    .. you realize you lose all credibility- assuming you had any to start with- at this point, right? First and foremost, The Show is present on the console, so the best baseball series in gaming is present. Second, you must not understand how… illogical it would have been for 2k to make NBA 2k12 on a system that wouldn’t be available for months after their game’s initial release. 2k, along with Live and Madden, will be on the system this year. (Oh, and you left out FIFA, too.)

    Honestly, before you start writing articles like these, stop and use your brain a bit.

    • http://www.gamingonbatteries.com triverse

      I will ignore the insults you made and just congratulate you on being one of the few people to actually read the whole article and point out the misuse of complaining about sports titles (yes, I knew there was FIFA and MLB on the system when writing the article).

      1) The price drop was brought up due to the fact that even with the PSP, it didn’t really take off till Sony dropped the price below the $200 mark (then they started offering themed systems which helped quite a bit- I got a Daxter model myself).

      2) My comments here were directed at the fact that EVERY gaming company coming out with new hardware has historically had a “dream team” of developers involved to create specific titles to help show off the new system at launch. From what I see of the titles available so far, only the Uncharted game appears to do anything truly noteworthy versus the competition’s offerings.

      3) See comment to #2 above.

      4) Have you heard of the Game Boy Color? The Game Boy Advance? The Nintendo DS? Nintendo has proven that you can launch backwards compatible hardware that supports nearly all of the titles of AT LEAST the previous generation (that Pokemon Pinball title with a accelerometer in it comes to mind as not being compatible with the DS along with that light sensor game).

      5) You got me on this one. My question is, how does the price being so high for the cards keep the system from being hacked? Yep, it is a cash run on a REQUIRED item to enjoy 99.9999% of the games available, or planned, on the system. That stinks, no matter the reasoning in favor of proprietary memory cards.

      The point of this article wasn’t to start flame wars but to point out flaws that I see in the way Sony is handling the Vita. Are my ideas, or anyone else’s, perfect? Nope.

  • Martin

    I have to agree with this article 100 percent. I happen to be a Sony fan boy and I mean nearly every electronic I own from Cell phone to tablets to PC. ALL SONY. So i have all the license in the world to say the VITA sucks. The hardware, graphics, power are bar none but the implementation sucks. The proprietary memory was the last straw for me. Not only is it way more expensive than normal micro SD and SD cards but it’s useless beyond the VITA. I had thought Sony learned their lesson with their memory stick and loss of camera sales and cell phone sales. But I guess not. This is one Sony fan boy who draws the line here. So when that happens, it does not bode well for the future sales.

  • JMAN259

    what most people forget about is that the vita isnt just a gaming device. i problably use he browser and listen to music more than i play. those are nice additions that shouldnt be ignored

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