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Jan 04 2013
By: havocsarmy Fender Bender 3987 posts
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Bleak or Bright: The PlayStation Vita’s Past and Future

44 replies 398 views Edited Jan 4, 2013

PlayStation Vita hasn’t had an easy go of it in its first year on the market. For as promising as the handheld appeared to be before its release, it’s failed to light the sales charts on fire both in its native Japan and in the west. As a result, questions about Vita’s future have already arisen in earnest as Sony continues to stand by its machine, seemingly unaware (or simply unwilling to admit) that anything has gone wrong.

 

Before Vita came out, it had everything going for it. At E3 2011, we expected Sony to tag an unreasonable price on its shiny new handheld, but the company did the exact opposite, pricing it fairly and giving it early appeal to would-be adopters. The vacancy of steady releases that slowly overtook the PSP’s latter years was quickly nipped in the bud, with Sony intent on using both its first-party resources and the power of its third-party relationships to give Vita a promising library of games right off the bat and for the duration of its first 12 months.

 

Perhaps most importantly, Vita was primed to roundly trounce its primary competition in the form of Nintendo 3DS. Its dual analog sticks and high-tech innards seemed to give it considerable leverage, allowing it to play games the 3DS cannot, easily besting it technologically. Likewise, seamlessly hitching Vita to PS3 (and vice-versa) with the ability to play some of the same games over both platforms appeared like it would be too good to pass up. The stars aligned for PlayStation Vita, or so I thought, and I predicted it would be successful as a result. But as I’ve stated many times in the past year, I was dead wrong.

 

The question now is what went wrong? How did something so promising fall apart? How did Vita fail to connect to consumers? And perhaps most importantly, can Sony salvage Vita’s out-of-the-gate stumble, call it a false start, and set PSP’s successor on a positive sales trajectory that will allow it to achieve some of the major success PSP found? The answers to these questions are, not surprisingly, complicated and multifaceted, and it’s difficult to come to a positive conclusion that paints Vita’s future as anything but flagging.

 

Vita’s failure to thrive can perhaps be traced back to the weeks and months before it was released, when the cloudless skies hanging over the handheld suddenly began to look overcast. News slowly but surely leaked about Vita’s capabilities – or lack thereof – including its lack of substantial built-in memory and heinously expensive memory cards that players would have to purchase to download and save games. Depending on the size of the memory card purchased, you'd have to tack an extra $100 or so onto the otherwise affordable price for the Vita itself. Suddenly, Vita wasn’t looking like such a good deal at retail, and the memory card issue persists to this day as a major roadblock barring entry to gamers on a budget.

 

http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/01/03/bleak-or-bright-the-playstation-vitas-past-and-future?abthid=...

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PIayStation MVP
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Re: Bleak or Bright: The PlayStation Vita’s Past and Future

Jan 4, 2013
I think that article is largely on target.

I believe that if Sony delayed the launch of the Vita in the US until last fall, they could have avoided the perception that there was a lack of software after the initial lineup. Also the newness factor & the holiday season would have kept the hype of the Vita going, just like it helped the WiiU have a nice initial sales numbers.

It also didn't help that the Vita launched in the US with an incomplete feature set, most notably PSone and PSP game compatibility and Netflix ability.

Another issue is the apparent lack of games. If you go into any store and see what games are available for the Vita, it seems so small for a system that has been available for 9 months. IMO people are waiting for a larger selection of games to play, and more to appeal to them. Again I think this perception could have been largely avoided if Sony launched in the Fall.

Lastly while the Vita does a lot more than the PSP did at the same initial $250 pricepoint, there wasn't a real equivalent to the PSP when it launched in 2004 so it seemed to be an amazing piece of hardware. Releasing the Vita in 2011, the hardware doesn't seem as amazing when there are smartphones and tablets that have more multipurpose applications and still can play amazing looking (and cheaper) games that appeals to a larger audience...

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I Only Post Everything
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Re: Bleak or Bright: The PlayStation Vita’s Past and Future

Jan 4, 2013

I consider the Vita my gaming tablet with excellent dedicated gaming controls.  Calling it that makes it easier for the wider tablet using public to understand.

PSNProfiles.com - InfinityDevil
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Re: Bleak or Bright: The PlayStation Vita’s Past and Future

Jan 4, 2013
I can remember how PS3 was lacking in games. I think the VITA will grow on us in time To go from PSP to GO was not a go for me.Memory cards are a problem making the VITA more of an "elite"gamers choice.If I can remember I passed on the PS3 at first because of the price also. I was very skeptical and only bought a VITA because of black friday deals. It is a pretty sweet little machine.

Time will tell and things wil change.As long as I see1-3 must have games for the VITA, a year, it will remain a justified purchase for me.I think they need to fix the connectivity issues for travelers for I too will be **bleep** if I take it abroad and cant connect when I need to.

If this machine fails it will be the last SONY handheld for me.

Just to note that when I bought my VITA I also bought a second PSP for 99.00. My 7 yr. old wants to play ADHOC monster hunter 3. I have tons of time and games left on the PSP to go through, I really didnt need a VITA...Hmmmmm.

I am looking forward to Soul Sacrifice on VITA.
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Re: Bleak or Bright: The PlayStation Vita’s Past and Future

Jan 4, 2013
Also I think adding the Vita into the PS+ program was a brilliant move. Even with the expense of the system and its memory cards, you can get that value back in games you don't have to buy, and one instantly gets access to 3 of the top Vita games.

Along with the Black Friday $200 special, this certainly peaked my interest in purchasing a Vita for myself...
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Survivor
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Re: Bleak or Bright: The PlayStation Vita’s Past and Future

Jan 4, 2013

Logical_Dolphin wrote:
Also I think adding the Vita into the PS+ program was a brilliant move. Even with the expense of the system and its memory cards, you can get that value back in games you don't have to buy, and one instantly gets access to 3 of the top Vita games.

Along with the Black Friday $200 special, this certainly peaked my interest in purchasing a Vita for myself...

But that goes in hand with the point IGN touched and that I agree with: deals. Sure, the value deal is great and all..but at the end of the day you are still having to fork $250+ for it. Let's look at the PS+ bundle. $300 for a PSV + 4 GB memcard + Unit 13 + PS+ subscription. Awesome deal, right? But what if people can only spend $200? What if people only want to go up to $200 because of budget? Value deals don't fix the problem that you are still being charged a significant amount, that's what Sony doesn't get. That's what Sony has to fix because in this day and age, $250+ for a handheld is simply not feasible~.

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Re: Bleak or Bright: The PlayStation Vita’s Past and Future

Jan 4, 2013

Is it though?

 

Amazon is subsidizing its tablet by selling through music and videos, and collecting user data on what you are browsing, and what you are buying and playing.  They definitely do this with the Amazon App Store -- their store runs as a kernel level service on the tablets and can monitor what you are doing, and their terms of service no doubt indicate they will grab your demographics nicely.

 

Google is selling the tablet at very low profit margins because they make the money back on your google account.  They catalog and analyze everything you read write and buy with your account, even if they don't watch your activity on the tablet itself.  They see your searches, they monetize that with their primary source of revenue: advertising.

 

Sony... doesn't do those things?  Yes they know your profile by what you buy on the Store, they could potentially track what you play on the Vita as part of your gaming profile if you happen to be online at the time, and even that goes on and off with the Vita to save battery.  Sony tries to make a profit on the handheld, and then makes a royalty on every game sold.

 

These are two very different models.  With Google, Amazon, Microsoft Bing, and Android in general, the consumer is actually the product in many ways.  Android exists to keep you using Google services -- why do you think Amazon didn't just decide to use Google's Android instead of making their own flavor of it?  They want you in their world so they can watch, analyze, monetize, and sell to you more directly.  With Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, the product is the hardware, the games, and the service offerings.

 

And before you go down the rabbit hole of saying games are too expensive when so many iOS and Android apps are 99 cents or free, go find out how many iOS and Android developers are making money.  Only a select few can live off their game revenue, let alone fund further development.

 

Until consumers understand that they are selling away their privacy and personal activity data on their tablets and phones in order to bring the price of those devices down, they won't understand a standard-price electronic product like a handheld game device from Nintendo, Sony, or anybody else.

 

It could be that the era of the dedicated handheld gaming device is over, but I'd wager that Sony is trying to mitigate that with its PlayStation Mobile efforts and services like Music Unlimited, Netflix, YouTube, and other apps on the Vita.

 

I'm surprised more Android developers aren't going to Vita.  Yes the numbers are low for install base but the piracy rate is probably vanishingly small.  Android is hacked 10 ways to Sunday -- rooting any phone immediately gets copies of your app thrown into the wild to be side-loaded by whoever wants them at no charge.

PSNProfiles.com - InfinityDevil
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Re: Bleak or Bright: The PlayStation Vita’s Past and Future

Jan 4, 2013

JuanMdP wrote:

Logical_Dolphin wrote:
Also I think adding the Vita into the PS+ program was a brilliant move. Even with the expense of the system and its memory cards, you can get that value back in games you don't have to buy, and one instantly gets access to 3 of the top Vita games.

Along with the Black Friday $200 special, this certainly peaked my interest in purchasing a Vita for myself...

But that goes in hand with the point IGN touched and that I agree with: deals. Sure, the value deal is great and all..but at the end of the day you are still having to fork $250+ for it. Let's look at the PS+ bundle. $300 for a PSV + 4 GB memcard + Unit 13 + PS+ subscription. Awesome deal, right? But what if people can only spend $200? What if people only want to go up to $200 because of budget? Value deals don't fix the problem that you are still being charged a significant amount, that's what Sony doesn't get. That's what Sony has to fix because in this day and age, $250+ for a handheld is simply not feasible~.


I agree with much of what you said. Since a independent analysis has determined that it costs Sony ~$160 to manufacture a Vita, they can certainly affored to lower the price and not make a loss. I am ceratin that after the fiscal year ends in March, Sony will lower the price of both the Vita and PS3. By then Sony should be packing in a free month of PS+ with every Vita, and more people will see more of an added value after purchase...

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Re: Bleak or Bright: The PlayStation Vita’s Past and Future

Jan 4, 2013
I think for the Vita to be more successful down the road is going to be dependent on PSM. Sony needs to pull in some of these big time Android/ iOS developers like Madfinger and get those games on PSM for the same price as they are on the Appstore and Play Store.

Taking the PSM route IMO would be more cost effective for the consumer and developer since they only need to pay $100 a year and we can get a games like Shadow gun and Dead Trigger for like $5 and with small file sizes. Shadowgun Deadzon is only 128mb(online only) and is amazing. Those two games are free on the Play Store ; due to Google being cheaper for devs, but if people see they can get console quality games for a device with dedicated controls for $5 instead of $40, they're going to be more inclined to purchase a Vita. But its up to Sony if they want PSM to really take off.
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Re: Bleak or Bright: The PlayStation Vita’s Past and Future

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Jan 4, 2013

@InfinityDevil:

 

While I agree with you in spirit about the subsidization of competing tablet entries by Amazon and Google, that's all a smokescreen.  The average consumer doesn't care.  It's about the value to the consumer.  Price isn't determined by the cost of production, it's determined by market bearing.  If the products that comprise your core competition are in the $170 (3DS) to $200 (Kindle Fire/Google Nexus) range, and you sell at $250 your are either: 1. Apple; 2. A premium product, 3: both 1 and 2.

 

For most consumers, there are a lot of options out there.  A lot more than existed in 2004 when PSP hit the market, or even in 2007 when the 2001 was released.  The market has shifted, and Sony must adjust. 


While I agree that Android is a hack/piracy tsunami, I also think that we're seeing the same kind of glut on Vita that we are with Windows 8 RT/Pro.  Access to popular apps is a driving point of competition anymore.  While you and I certainly wouldn't dream of buying a Vita to play something as facile as Angry Birds, the availability of popular titles like that are proven to help boost sales.  And not having them hurts you when competing with a range of competition that does.  

 

The Vita has had a slow start, that is undeniable, but it's not dead yet.  There is still time and opportunity to save this thing.

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