Sony’s PlayStation Vita continues to have a rough go of it on the world stage. For the week ending 4/28/12, the system only managed to move 65,925 units, which is fewer than any other system save the original DS. Over the same week, Nintendo managed to sell 172,920 3DS systems, almost tripling Vita‘s numbers and leading all platforms in units sold.
Of course, 3DS wasn’t always the juggernaut that it is now. The early days of the system were marked by lackluster sales which were attributed both to the 3DS’s initial price and a dearth of truly compelling software. That’s largely the same situation Vita finds itself in now, at least in the opinion of Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto.
Despite a diverse lineup of launch titles and an ever-expanding library, no Vita game has managed to truly break though and drive sales in the way that, for instance, Mario Kart 7 has on 3DS. Speaking with Edge, Miyamoto emphasizes the importance of “key software” to a system’s success.
“When we launched the 3DS hardware we didn’t have Super Mario 3D Land, we didn’t have Mario Kart 7, we didn’t have Kid Icarus: Uprising.”
“We were kind of hoping that people would, nevertheless, buy into the product, find 3DS hardware promising, but looking back we have to say we realise the key software was missing when we launched the hardware.”
Though it lacks an obvious gimmick like 3DS’s glasses-free 3D, Sony‘s Vita is nevertheless an impressively designed, robust piece of technology. Unfortunately, all that processing power and sleek design haven’t been enough to establish Vita as an unquestioned success. Miyamoto, apparently, is not surprised.
“I don’t really see the combination of software and hardware that really makes a very strong product.”
If Sony has yet to find the right “combination,” it’s not for lack of trying. The company’s signature franchise, Uncharted, has been available on Vita since day one, along with such notable first-party games as WipEout 2048 and ModNation Racers: Road Trip. Later this month, the long-anticipated Resistance: Burning Skies will finally be released — despite the failure of Resistance 3 to reach a wide audience last Fall, the new game, which includes online multiplayer, is still one of the bright spots on the Vita’s horizon.
It may simply be that the stable of Sony exclusives work best on the big screen at home. The company has been criticized in the past for delivering portable games that play too much like console titles and aren’t well suited to gaming on the go –Nathan Drake, after all, is not exactly Mario. On the other hand, Nintendo hasn’t had much trouble selling ports of its N64 titles (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Star Fox 64 3D), so perhaps that point is no longer valid.
Finally, there is still the matter of price. Yes, the 3DS was bolstered by the release of “key titles” like Super Mario 3D Land and Monster Hunter 3G, but it also benefited immeasurably from a price drop that left Nintendo selling the system at a loss. Each Vita reportedly costs $160 to make, leaving Sony some room to adjust the hardware’s price. Will that happen at E3 2012? What do you think?
Ranters, what will it take to make PlayStation Vita a success: a lower price, better software, or both? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.