Now that Sonyís extremely powerful handheld, the PlayStation Vita, has made its way to North America, gamers everywhere are asking the same question Ė will the PlayStation Vita be successful?
The market has changed drastically since the launch of the PSP. Smartphones didnít really exist and neither did the robust app store we all have access to today. Consumer expectations are also different and weíre conditioned to expect downloadable games to be priced somewhere between $1 and $10.
The 3DS has shown that thereís still a market out there for dedicated gaming handhelds. I was extremely skeptacle about the 3DSís future a few months ago, but the handheld has rebounded and is selling amazingly well. Itís even breaking sales records in Japan as the PlayStation Vistaís sales remain stagnant overseas.
The key to the 3DSís resurection was an influx of great games and a substantial price drop. In todayís market, itís obviously difficult to sell a device for over $200 that solely plays video games, and Nintendo quickly learned that. I totally understand that the Vita is a multifaceted device, it can browse the internet, watch movies and utilize social media (it can also do tons of other things). Basically, it has all the capabilities that laptops or tablets have. But unfortunately, I donít think this is really the general publicís perception of the device.
Many people will probably disagree, but I think most gamers will purchase a PlayStation Vita almost solely to play video games. Sure, all the other features are cool, but will people actually use them? Remember the PSP? Browsing the internet or even doing anything that wasnít strictly gaming related was cumbersome.
The Vita has an extremely solid initial line up of games, probably the best of any system launch Iíve seen in a very long time and Sony needs to emphasize this. Uncharted: Golden Abyss
, Super Stardust Delta
and Rayman Origins
are among the most promising looking titles on the handheld. They need to move units through great games, thatís how you compete with the iPhone, not by trying to match the average smartphoneís set of features and capabilities. The PlayStation Vita offers a unique experience that smartphones canít possibly attempt to match. This is why gamers will purchase it.
I, personally, havenít had hands on time with the PlayStation Vita, so this is mostly just speculation (Iíll be receiving the handheld for review in a few weeks). I hope to receive a review copy of the PlayStation Vita at some point in the very near future. I own a smartphone to browse the internet on the go, I have a laptop to use as a computer and if I want to tweet, Iím going to use my smartphone. If I was buying a PlayStation Vita, Iíd be purchasing it solely for playing video games. I really donít even understand why thereís a 3G model of the Vita. If I really want to game online on the go, Iíd just tether it to my smartphone.
For me, price is the biggest obstacle when considering purchasing a Vita. $250 is a lot of money for a student, hell, itís a lot of money for anyone to spend on a handheld device, period. In order for the Vita to be succesful, a quick price drop is in order, but then Sony also runs the risk of angering fans that bought the device on day one. I donít want to see the system share the same fate as the PSP. I canít even remember the last great title released for Sonyís aging handheld.
I realize that the Vita has only been out for a few days and that it will be months until weíre able to tell how well it has sold, but these are my predictions. Itís also a Sony product, so itís not like the handheld is going to die out any time soon. Maintaining developer support and thwarting pirates are also important for the Vita to be successful.
The PlayStation Vita seems like an amazing device and Iím truly excited to see how developers utilize its unique features (the gameplay options for its back touch screen seem almost endless).
I just have a feeling that it might suffer the same fate as the PSP. What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.
Follow me on Twitter @Patrick_ORourke