Following on the heals of the announcement that Nintendo was dramatically slashing prices on the almost six month old Nintendo 3DS hardware, speculation immediately turned to the Sony PS Vita – and how the now very affordable Nintendo handheld might affect sales.
While there is no way to directly predict what will happen when the PS Vita debuts by the end of the year, that hasn’t stopped industry insiders from discussing the possibilities.
Speaking with Industry Gamers, David Cole of DFC Intelligence, paints a very open-ended picture of the holiday handheld landscape – where third-party support and compelling content will make or break which system becomes the preferred console of choice:
“The two handhelds are quite different.Content is always a crucial variable that is easy to forget – if game publishers had been able to make really compelling content for the 3DS with appeal to millions of gamers, then the story might have played out differently.
Sony I think can possibly play this to their advantage, although the price difference is tough. Sony is going up against a very aggressive leader in Nintendo. I think we can say that competition in the portable space should really heat up. That could be good for consumers that can take advantage of these deals.”
No doubt the tug-of-war will be good for consumers – especially since the devices represent very different approaches to the market. The Nintendo 3DS continues to rely on affordable hardware that utilizes the company’s library of iconic characters (much like the Wii). The PS Vita on the other hand is relying on new and expensive tech, in an attempt to distinguish it from the current market offerings (much like the PS3) – and offer a premiere handheld experience. As a result, it’ll be interesting to see whether a higher PS Vita price-tag will damage the consoles chances of taking root – even if it is a great piece of hardware.
Industry Gamers also cited Jesse Divnich, of EEDAR, who asserted that while the Vita price is fair, given the tech, Sony is going to have to deliver a strong library of games:
“This price cut does put the Vita in a tough position. It all comes down to the content and if the Vita can deliver a library of high quality entertainment products, it should be able to thrive at the $249 price point.”
Whether or not Sony will be able to deliver strong third-party support has became a major talking point over the last few days – after a rumor suggested that the amount of Vita RAM had been drastically reduced since developers first got their hands on the device. However, Develop is reporting that a Sony source has denied that any reduction was made in the current version of the device – though, it’s hard for anyone to know for sure since official Vita tech specs have yet to be disclosed. A recent Joystiq report even suggests that their could be as much as ten times the RAM in the Vita as there was in the PSP – though, for now, the report has yet to be confirmed. Then Hachimaki unveiled that the Vita GPU will be manufactured by Samsung but no details were provided that could shed light on the rest of the device’s internals – not to mention whether or not they could change.
That said, given the recent price-drop on the 3DS, it’ll be especially interesting to see if Sony tries to retool the device’s specs – to drive the price down another $50. Not a likely outcome but, facing-off against a heavy-hitter like Nintendo, Sony’s going to need to deliver an exciting new hand-held experience or, at least, have some great first and third-party titles in the pipeline.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick and let us know which console you’re most interested in.