The Vita is in big trouble, but it can be saved

You don’t have to be a high-paid analyst to see that the PS Vita is in a tough spot. You’ll find many stories headlined "3DS outsells PS Vita 46 to 1" or "3DS crushes Vita during Black Friday week." Add to that the poor reception of some high profile recent releases, the negative news about Sony’s overall business, and the heavy shadow cast by mobile gaming, and the Vita seems all but dead before its first year of international release comes to an end. But don’t worry, there’s still time for course correction, just not as much as Sony would like.

How can the Vita be saved? You’ve got to start with its most obvious flaw: the price. When Sony announced the $250/$300 price tag at E3 2011, the price drew applause for matching the 3DS’s. But by the time the Vita came to the US, the cheapest Vita was $80 more than the 3DS, and that price disparity has hurt it ever since.

The "charge less to sell more" strategy will work--and we've already seen it happen with the Vita. On November 22, many retailers cut a normally $250 Vita bundle down to $200, while Amazon slashed the price to $180. Though Sony didn't exactly laud the move, the company did call out the promotion as a major source of Vita sales that week. Hopefully this was a sign of Sony testing some future, permanent price points for the portable, but the company needs to stop dilly-dallying.

The price cut needs to extend to games, too. $40 for a top of the line Vita game is a fair price, but $20-$30 would be a far better for the majority of its library. In a world with $1 apps and great mobile games under $10, $40 for almost any portable title is a stretch. The price on storage also needs to come down, given that a $60 16GB memory card is only good for about six or seven games.

And lowering the price of storage drops will make it even easier to download the free games offered on PlayStation Plus. The free games so far have been great, but Sony needs to keep that ball rolling, and it doesn’t even need to offer Vita games. In this day and age it’s hard to imagine there are many who would pay full price for PSP titles like Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny, Riviera: The Promised Land, or Secret Agent Clank, but all would be quickly embraced as freebies. The same goes for the huge backlog of PSOne games on PSN. Throw Klonoa, Destruction Derby, or Crash Team Racing to Vita owners gratis and it’ll feel like manna from heaven instead of dusty leftovers.




  • Kytl - July 5, 2013 8:22 p.m.

    Dropping the price of the Vita to $200 and cutting the price of the memory cards by AT LEAST half would help the Vita survive. Unfortunately, good games will NOT save the Vita long-term. It NEEDS a price drop to continue being relevant in the minds of gamers.
  • jim-niner - January 17, 2013 1:47 p.m.

    I can see validity in all your points (the article's author), but my perspective as an existing PSP owner (who still gets a lot of enjoyment out of his 5 year old PSP) is a little different. 1. Price. I never had an issue with the price. Apple never has issues with price. When you know you are getting premium tech, people are willing to pay more. I don't think the $250/$300 price point is too far off, after all, the original PSP sold for $250 at launch. Now, the market has changed since then, and for new adopters that $250 price point probably is too high. A $200 price point would likely help kick sales up a notch, but I've long held that unit price is not what is killing the PS Vita. 2. Memory Cards These are one of the death bells for the Vita, but for several reasons. For those of us that already own the PSP, we still remember the PSP Go. The PSP Go used a different memory card than the PSP ... making the cards we already bought worthless with the new system. The PSP Go failed to gain a market. Existing PSP owners didn't want to buy all new media, and didn't want to lose all their UMD games. 3. Games. The PS Vita does have some killer titles already. There are 4 or 5 right out the door I want to play. However, I still have a little heartburn paying $40 or more for a handheld game. That price is probably one of the "too high" prices that causes consumers to give other options more serious consideration. Yes, brand new 3DS titles are equivalently priced ... that is true ... but you can still play older DS games on the 3DS ... you can't play all your old PSP games on the Vita. Only a handful are available for download, and your old UMD games are worthless. Sony doesn't owe me new downloads of my old UMD games, but that is one point where they depart from one of the selling points of the 3DS. I don't own a PS3, and shouldn't have to for my PSP/Vita to be awesome for me. If I buy a Vita, one of the best selling points for me would be PS3 games. I would love to be able to play the PS3 God of War games on the Vita, or the Assassin's Creed games. That would be a fast way to build early market share, but Sony assumes that potential PSP/Vita buyers already own a PS console ... and I don't think it's true as much as Sony would like to think it is. Either way, it would still likely be a selling point for many PS3 owners too. 4. User Base The PSP still outsells the PS Vita in Japan ... Sony's home country. The user base for PSP was sustainable but never as large in the US as it could have been ... largely because of the support Sony offered for the system. Now, the PSP is still available for less than half the price of the Vita. There is a large availability of used games, equipment, and accessories for the PSP. I think a lot of the time, the Vita may be competing with it's own Sony predecessor. Either way, the value proposition isn't there yet to get existing PSP owners to upgrade, and many new adopters are buying the PSP instead. 5. User Base/Games One way to get existing customers to upgrade from an existing device to it's next generation is to be backwards compatible. That can't be entirely so for the PSP/Vita because of the lack of a UMD drive on the Vita. However, access to PS One Classics and all PSP downloadable games would be a start. If I can't continue to play my old games while I wait for the catalog to develop on the new system, then I'll just keep playing on my old system until there are enough games on the shelf and on the calendar to make the switch. I think this is one place where the Vita is struggling. The 3DS plays all the old DS games. So while the 3DS games offerings were limited, you could still play other games you enjoy on it. Not true for the Vita. And even for the PSP games that are available for the Vita, you have to purchase them again as a download. I would have to re-buy my God of War games (COO and GOS), and any other UMD games that are available for download to the Vita. That's not a great selling point, and it's one of the reasons I haven't bought a Vita yet. Playstation Plus is a great idea and I'm excited to see it develop, but it's not enough to sell me yet. Paying for a service to play games I already own is not the best selling point to PSP owners. Altogether, I really want the Vita to succeed. I want to get one at some point this year, but I'm waiting for the price drop on the units and on memory. I'm not paying what they are asking to lose all the investment I've already made in my PSP. I can keep playing my PSP until that tipping point comes, and then I'll buy the Vita if it looks like Sony will keep it alive for the foreseeable future. I think it all boils down to a combination of price, games, memory, and user base. Right now, depending on your position in the market (new or existing customer), all of them may be against you right now. Sony needs to do some drastic repositioning in the market.
  • AuthorityFigure - December 22, 2012 5:25 p.m.

    If journalists keep calling the unit "sexy", then they're only hurting the sales. When was the last time you heard a 3DS, GBA or GameBoy called "sexy". Get real.
  • THE_FORCE - December 18, 2012 3:22 p.m.

    Errr Henry, you're an expert ?!
  • 7-D - December 18, 2012 11:49 a.m.

    Saying that.. the upcoming Media Molecule game Tearaway looks really nice. Seems about it though?
  • tehtimeisnow - December 17, 2012 7:19 p.m.

    nothing can saved the psp vita or the 3ds there both faleures cuz dedacated hanhelds r dead tecology and there no way they can compete with ipohne cuz iphone 5 is way superier has way beter grafics and the games only cost a doller and it can do milloins of other things like email and music and vidoe and facteime so just face it dedacated hanhelds r like stone age tecology
  • Child Of Death - December 17, 2012 9:55 p.m.

    You know it is kinda hard to take the opinion of a person who can't spell worth a shit seriously. Did you even make it out of elementary?
  • Cloudiology - December 18, 2012 4:54 a.m.

    don't feed the trolls...
  • SUCKxITxEZ - December 23, 2012 11:49 p.m.

    let him. if he doesn't catch anything he gets even more hungry and we see him on every article.
  • Fraught - December 19, 2012 1:16 a.m.

    Most games worth anything much are way more, like Bastion and The World Ends With You, for example. Though, I have to admit, getting Ghost Trick free is pretty sweet (even if I have it on the DS already) and paying 20 to 30 euros for Angry Birds is ridiculous as hell. Oh, also, 40 dollars too expensive for Vita games? Are you fucking kidding me? Try Paper Mario for 50 euros. The lowest price new portable games here go is about 35 euros, but that's it.
  • defalkner - December 27, 2012 7:29 p.m.

    Wow everything you just listed is entirely incorrect (including spelling), and all things the Vita is ENTIRELY capable of. In fact the iPhone 5's 'graphics' are mediocre compared to the Vita and who is going to spend $700 on an iPhone 5 to play games? I have an iPhone and the games absolutely suck - no wonder there usually under $3. Sony already stated they are NOT going to abandon the Vita, so rest assured. The Vita was also in development at the same time the PSPGo and was alsready pre-determined to replace the Go, but they were two completely different hand helds. What troubles me the most is the cost of the titles and, honestly, how bad they've been. A buddy of mine brought over COD for Vita and I was heartbroken at the garbage that was produced with such a refined title. If COD was anything like it's console brothers, I feel that could have given the Vita the surge it needed. The complete lack of 'serious' online play-ability with a dozen friends killed that title for me. The vita needs that go-to game everyone wants and until it has that I think we are going to feel a little let down. Well at least there is the PSP market.
  • jim-niner - January 17, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    I have an iPhone 5, and I still use my PSP for playing games because is has a larger and better screen. The Vita has an even larger and better screen than that. Unless you're playing Angry Birds or Jetpack Joyride, the smart phone and tablet sector sucks for gaming. You could never play a full function God of War or FF Dissidia title on one. They try, but it's not the same, and it wipes out your phone battery if you do play graphically intensive games on your phone. Having an iPhone doesn't solve your gaming needs and more than I would expect the Vita to solve my phone needs. I am not looking for the best all in one device that does everything okay. I want a smart phone that is a good phone and does email and texting well. I want my gaming device to do games. I want console quality games on the go. Playing them on my iPhone is a shallow and empty experience. The screen is too small, the processor too sluggish (because it's also supporting email, texting, phone, and whatever other apps are running), and the controls are abysmal. The PSP blows the DS and smart phones away. It's one lacking aspect was ongoing support and development. It was supported much better in Japan, and still outsells the Vita there. If Sony can get the games into production and course correct the mistakes it made with the PSP in the US and Europe, it can save the ship. The Vita should be flying off the shelves. It's an amazing device. If it had even half the games catalog available for PS3, it would be huge. Even some high quality ports of proven titles would be enough to gain a stronger presence in the market. Right now, there just aren't enough games coming out to get buyers into the system. Especially for us PSP owners, we're still a little skeptical that Sony is going to keep this system alive, and we don't want to buy into another awesome piece of Sony tech that winds up going the way of Beta Max. We're waiting to see what Sony does next, that's all. If the price comes down and the games calendar improves, I have a feeling a lot of us that already own the PSP will make the purchase. Right now, I have no reason to. The Vita is awesome, but so is my PSP. I need something I haven't seen from Sony yet to seal the deal for me.
  • AceOfCrimson - March 10, 2013 4:50 p.m.

    I remember when I was 12 years old.
  • Jackstraw - December 17, 2012 6:50 p.m.

    Man, I can't believe Sony wasted so much time and effort on marketing and research! Why didn't they just wait for some hack from one of the worst gaming websites to tell them how to save the vita? The higher ups must be kicking themselves for putting in all that effort, when clearly, they could have just turned to someone like you with your vast knowledge of marketing and how to fix things! This is your moment! The vita will be saved, and the world will have you to thank for it!
  • Fraught - December 19, 2012 1:18 a.m.

    Did you actually read the suggestions and think about how everyone agrees with them, and they're valid, and, seeing as the Vita has TERRIBLE sales, that maybe all those "higher-ups" aren't doing their job well, or are you just being an idiot? That was a rhetorical question. Of course you're just being an idiot. You can stop now.
  • Child Of Death - December 17, 2012 6:19 p.m.

    I think the price point is reasonable for the Vita. Sony put a lot of technology into the Vita for it to only sell for 169.99. What they do need to do is drop the price on the memory cards a lot. The prices on those things are outrageous. And they need more hardcore better games and stop giving popular franchises like Resistance and COD to shitty game developers like Nihlistic who obviously have no idea what the hell they are doing.
  • sandplasma - December 17, 2012 8:18 p.m.

    I couldnt agree more. If they were planning on it being a system primarily fed by PSN then they should have included built in memory (16GB at least) or they should definitely lower the price of the memory. I've been itching for a 16GB card but they are WAY too expensive.
  • Scoob - December 18, 2012 1:53 a.m.

    The price point of the PS3 at launch was also pretty reasonable given the tech. They both suffered from the same problem of being too high for the market though. Not many outside of the Sony fanboy were going to pay $600+ for a console, and the same is true with the Vita. Sony should have taken a lesson from Nintendo and started at a lower price. Instead they stuck with the $250 price tag while pretty much requiring the purchase of a $60 memory card (lets face it, the 4GB included isn't enough).
  • Sentient - December 17, 2012 6:06 p.m.

    The only thing it has going for it is Persona 4, and that's not enough to carry the system.

Showing 1-20 of 63 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000