Analyst: Vita will sell well and cost Sony $65 per unit

Sony's PlayStation Vita will sell in the neighborhood of 2.5 million units before March 2012, says Kazuharu Miura, analyst for Japan's SMBC Nikko Securities. However, this respectable projection %26ndash; not as high as, say, the DS' 5.3 million launch year, but not bad for a machine that won't even hit Western territories until early next year %26ndash; is tempered by Miura's estimation that Sony will lose around 5,000 Yen ($US65) per unit sold. A less optimistic prediction still comes from Heavy Iron Studios' Matthew Seymour, who openly calls the system a %26ldquo;car wreck.%26rdquo;

Miura says the Vita can expect to sell closer to 8.5 million units in financial year 2012, its first full year at retail %26ndash; saying that if his projection of 28 million units of software are shifted for that year as well, Sony's losses on the machine will be halved. He says these figures are highly contingent on Sony's ability to provide players with compelling software, which Ace Security's Hideki Yasuda warns will be harder than on previous machines. Yasuda says the Vita's higher graphical demands and unproven user base make developing for the system a higher-stakes gamble in the early days.

Seymour %26ndash; who, along with Lyle Hall, heads the ex-THQ subsidiary Heavy Iron %26ndash; is more blunt: %26ldquo;With all due respects to Sony and Vita, it's a car wreck.%26rdquo; You probably hadn't heard of Heavy Iron, whose games include UFC Trainer and Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, until the studio came out against the great hope of handheld gaming, but Hall and Seymour don't want to come across like they're dissing Sony just for the sake of it. Hall says the company would love to see the platform succeed %26ndash; %26ldquo;The technology is sweet... but I just don't know there's a market out there anymore for the hardware%26rdquo; %26ndash; but question the relevance of releasing game-only platforms in a decade increasingly dominated by the possibilities of mobile technology.

%26ldquo;If people aren't willing to pay $249 for a Nintendo 3DS, why would they pay $299 for Vita?%26rdquo; asks Hall. %26ldquo;People don't want to carry more than one thing in their pocket: that%26rsquo;s why Android and iPhone have done so well.%26rdquo; The comparison makes the 3DS' first holiday season %26ndash; at the controversially reduced price %26ndash; one to watch as a possible bellwether for Vita's performance, with Yasuda having recently voiced%26ldquo;major pressure%26rdquo; for Sony to match Nintendo's price cut with its own revised figures.

Aug 15, 2011