Sony Computer Entertainment's President and CEO, Andrew House, has seen rival Nintendo's 3DS' sales figures take off in recent weeks... and is pleased about it. Never mind the fact that Vita sales have dropped off (opens in new tab) week-on-week again in Japan, or that 3DS is currently outselling Sony's new handheld at a ratio of more than 5:1 in the territory. He's pleased because it shows that people still want dedicated handheld gaming units - and that means potential.
We see his point. With smartphones taking off and dedicated handheld machines no longer offering vastly superior experiences to top-end handsets and tablet PCs, there had been fears that this generation of handhelds would be the one where consumers said 'no, I don't need that'. But with around a quarter of a million people buying a 3DS in Japan alone last week and another 100,000 this week, that doesn't look likely.
Andrew House told the US PlayStation blog (opens in new tab): "The sales of the 3DS, having the advantage of releasing a little bit ahead of us, have been exceedingly good. I think that shows that there is, in general, a lot of demand for a gaming-primary portable device.
"But our device in contrast has just so much more to offer. What I think we've done is point to a market that really has started out with potentially casual games on other devices, but now wants a deeper, better or more premier gaming experience," he said.
Above: There are lots of 3DS consoles being sold around the world. Can Vita steal its user base?
So he's venturing that despite Vita's comparatively weak sales since its launch in the East, there is still a market for it in general - all Sony needs to do is to excite that market with a more sophisticated experience. It's a bold plan and one that had better work pretty soon if Sony is to snatch back market share from Nintendo, which is in danger of running away with it in the handheld console wars for the (counts on fingers) fourth generation in a row.
The optimist in us say it's a good thing too, and that Vita just needs an equivalent set of killer apps to 3DS' Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 and it'll be doing just fine.
The cynic? Strong sales of 3DS are disastrous for Sony as it suggests the house of Mario has beaten down Vita even quicker than last time. Hopefully Sony's beautiful new machine (that we think is ace) will fare better when it's released in the US and UK in just over a month's time. After all, this chart of Vita sales figures since launch doesn't look very healthy to us:
Above: It's got turn upwards again soon - there isn't much lower it can go
Source: CVG (opens in new tab)