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Good Idea, Bad Idea: PlayStation Vita in 2012

Posted on Friday, August 5 @ 13:09:01 Eastern by GR_Staff

Kaz Hirai recently confirmed that the US and European markets would not see the release of the PlayStation Vita in 2011. Anthony Severino and Daniel Bischoff have laid out why they think it is a good idea (Anthony) and a bad idea (Daniel). Whose side are you on? Lend your voice to the discussion in the comments and we'll feature one of you in The People Speak with double entries into our quarterly drawing.

3DS Price Drop - Are they backing out of the holiday to avoid competing with the new price point? Or was a staggered launch always their plan?

Daniel: I’ve already written that Sony’s PS Vita price point was an artillery shot at Nintendo’s current handheld. At $250, there was no doubt that the Vita was more technology per dollar when compared with the 3DS. Nintendo’s unprecedented price-drop was a signal of weakness, a signal of submission to the pure gadget sex of the PSV. Even the rushed feeling we got from Nintendo’s press release, revealing Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, seemed a little desperate.

So why’d you pull your punches, Sony? Make consumers choose between the Vita and the 3DS! Your PS3 business is growing month over month while the Wii is throwing a Wii-mote and critically injuring its sales figures. Why not face off with Nintendo in the Western markets this holiday?

Anthony: I bet this was Sony’s plan all along. They made Nintendo drop their price early by announced the Vita pricing at E3, but had no intention on launching until 2012. They’ve made the 3DS look like an inferior product from specs alone, then to have it at the same price point? It made the 3DS look like a rip-off compared to what the Vita offers.

Nintendo is now in a poor position with the 3DS: sell it for much less than planned, alienate early adopters, and let the world know that it was struggling. This hurt Nintendo, and I’m not sure that they can get out of it.

I do almost agree that Sony should have struck when their competition was at their weakest, but if they follow in Nintendo’s footsteps, they could make the same missteps.

Software Library - Is there enough software now as opposed to later. How important is the lineup at launch?

Anthony: I think more than anything, Sony is learning from past mistakes. Not just their own, but with the competition too. The most recent example would be the 3DS. It launched without that killer app, and the overall launch lineup wasn’t compelling enough to warrant the price tag. Due to this, Nintendo had to lower the price point on the 3DS. Sony is packing a lot of value into the Vita, so I don’t think there’s room for a price drop, or really any stumbling out of the gate.

Then there’s the PS3, which launched at this astronomical price point (the Vita is affordable and a value), and didn’t have the software to make buying a PS3 worth the price of admission. Granted the Vita is more appropriately priced, but the economy is also in a very different place now. I think Sony has learned from that. They don’t want two launch disasters in a row. Oh, and the PlayStation Move launch was shit too, if you want to count that.

Not having the software library at launch could kill a system off before it ever really gets going.

Daniel: If Sony learned anything from the 3DS, it’s that you can sell over 3 million units WITHOUT a killer app. The PlayStation Vita already has one! I think you’ll agree that Sound Shapes is already shaping up to be worth the cost of entry on the PSV. A killer app is just that: one piece of software that everyone wants to play. Coming from someone who hates creating my own levels and thinks the music genre should die a fiery death, Sound Shapes is good enough to buy sight-unseen.

As long as the PlayStation Vita doesn’t count a Haze port in its launch window and focuses on core, console-quality titles like Call of Duty, there’s nothing keeping its launch software library down. And who could ask for a better launch (window) franchise when you’ve got Uncharted: Golden Abyss in the wings?

Anthony: I agree about Sound Shapes. I'd have bought a Vita just to play that game. It's that good.

Holiday Sales - Is Sony missing an opportunity for sales? Or are they gaining more time to shine?

Daniel: The electronics giant is absolutely missing a huge sales opportunity by stepping out of Western markets in the holiday season. From October through December, consumers will be lining up in droves to buy the latest technology, and the PlayStation Vita epitomizes that market. It could be the latest, greatest gadget, with tons of news coverage in addition to the typical holiday marketing campaigns. Sony commercials should be displaying the complete home entertainment package with the PS3 and PSV lined up side by side. You can bet that the PSP won’t see very strong sales this Winter, so where’s the new hardware for everyone to drool over?

With strong support across PSN, Android, and retail games, the PlayStation Vita could rake in tons of holiday-cash. Even accessories, one of the most profitable attachables with new hardware, would do better during the holiday season than they would at any other time of the year.

Anthony: True. They’re missing out on potential sales from people scrambling to buy their loved ones gifts. There’s not doubt about that. But, it’s expensive for a gift. And with competition so stiff at this time of the year, it’s still a risk.

Five years ago, nearly 80% of all major game releases were from September to December, but because of competition this time of the year, that has changed, and more and more publishers are holding titles until Q1 of the following year to let their titles shine. The fact of the matter is, Call of Duty sells. And a few other key annual franchises like Assassin’s Creed sell well, too.

The average gamer has at least five games in mind that they want this holiday season (I know I can think of five without digging too deep). Those five games right there cover the cost of the Vita, so people may not have the expendable income for both. Then... you have to buy games for the Vita, too. I mean, you’re not just going to give that fancy rear touchscreen a rub-down, are you? Well, maybe I would too. It is sexy.

Related Games:   Nintendo 3DS
Tags:   PS Vita, Sony, ps3, Nintendo, 3DS

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