Vita Sales Slow In Japan, Will The US Launch Be The Same?

Things are not looking good for the future of standalone portable gaming.  When Nintendo launched the 3DS this year, it did not meet the expectations that Iwata was hoping for in sales.  The system slowly moved off the shelves and it there was a lack of hit titles to go along with it.  Nintendo quickly made the decision to cut the price on the 3DS, but it wasn’t until the end of the year that the system saw increased sales due to the release of several first party titles.  Now we are approaching another handheld release in the US, the Playstation Vita, and setup seems quite familiar.

The Vita launched in Japan on December 17th and people were excited to hear what seemed to be a strong start in sales with 320,000 units being sold in the first two days.  But sadly that was not the case as the following week brought a measly 72,000 units sold.  The drop in sales may be due to shortages as we’ve seen with other console launches in the past, but I have a feeling it has more to do with Sony being late to the game.

After Nintendo dropped the price on their system the playingfield was a changed to the point of no return.  What seemed like a great value for the Vita before at $250 (when 3DS was also $250) no seems only so-so.  One look at the sales figures in Japan and you can see the 3DS has regained its spot as king.  Value is more important to people these days that pure horsepower.  Even Amazon has demonstrated this by producing a tablet at a crowd pleasing price.

When you look at everything Sony is trying to sell with the Vita things begin to look even more bleak.  Memory cards that are required to save game data are proprietary and sold at prices much higher than other memory formats.  Games for the system are going to sell for $40-$50 in the presence of a market that is seeing tablets as gaming devices with games for $1 a piece.

Only time will tell how the PSP’s successor will fair in the US, but I believe that we are seeing what may be the last generation of standalone portable gaming devices.  Hopefully Sony wises up and bites the bullet on their prices before the Vita becomes close friends with his sad cousin the PSPGo.

Written by Bryan

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