Last week, Nintendo sent shockwaves through the gaming industry when it dropped the price of its newest handheld, the 3DS, by $80. This price drop and the rewarding early adopters (dubbed “Ambassadors” by Nintendo) are moves that Nintendo hopes will bring in new customers in time for the holiday season. Nintendo is currently hurting from lost profits and it seems that if Sony doesn’t drop the price of the upcoming Vita, then they will feel the sting also since it’s now a far more expensive platform than the 3DS.

Sony initially priced the Vita competitively to match the 3DS, making the big announcement during the Sony E3 2011 press conference in early June, attempting to ensure they will be the dominant handheld of the new generation. After the recent 3DS price drop however, the Vita is now looking pretty expensive in the eyes of Japanese gamers. The Vita is currently scheduled to launch starting in Japan at a price of 24,980 yen ($317 US), and $380 for the 3G model.

Japan will be the first kids on the block to get their hands on the Vita, with the UK and US units launching in 2012. Since that release date news was made official by Sony, some industry insiders are now sounding off after the recent 3DS price drop. An event planner in Tokyo by the name of Takeda let Bloomberg News know how he felt about the PS Vita price:

“PS Vita’s quite expensive, I don’t think I’ll be one of those people rushing to buy it on the release date.”

The 40% 3DS price drop puts Nintendo’s handheld at a price around 15,000 yen, so by the time the Vita comes out late this year, it’ll be the much more affordable option. Since it’s still so new, and with many of its bigger games still to come, you can see why the Vita may be starting at a hurdle when it launches, and this is why there’s a bit of an outcry for price drop for the Vita as well.

Wanting a price drop is natural since some gamers may view both the Vita and 3DS in the same light since they’re both handheld gaming devices. However, people should be reminded that Nintendo sacrificed high end graphics to bring them the 3D tech. Unfortuntely, it’s a tech many gamers don’t find all that useful, not helped by the early reports of eye strain and headaches and lack of games that make good use of it. The move by Nintendo to omit HD graphics is something that isn’t going to fly as we move deeper into the HD era, especially in the long term. PS Vita will not only have high end graphics and superior controls (two sticks is better than one), but can also be used as a controller for the PS3, giving it Wii U properties. If anything, Nintendo has more to fear from Sony than vice versa.

Perhaps Japanese gamers will change their minds once they get their hands on the Vita at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. Sony promised a strong presence at this year’s gaming convention in Tokyo in order to prove to the public that the Vita deserves every bit of the hype behind it.

Sony isn’t just feeling pressure from Nintendo however, but like their main competitor, they face competition from Apple and the other smart phone app markets as well. Apple’s iOS devices along with Android powered platforms are rapidly gaining popularity in the handheld market from the lower cost for games and easy of portability. People have to carry their phones around with them regardless, and carrying one gaming machine is better than carrying two…

Will Sony follow suit and drop its price to be more competitive with Nintendo?  It’s unlikely. Nintendo dropped its price because the 3DS wasn’t performing and it needed to help out the developers pouring resources into bringing titles to the handheld. Sony Executive, Kaz Hirai reiterates that at this point in time, it makes no sense for Sony to reduce the price of an unreleased product, especially considering it was competitively priced when first announced, only two months ago.

“There’s no need to lower the price just because somebody else that happens to be in the video game industry decided they were going to.”

Sony has yet to release its product, and at this point there’s only speculation at how well it will do. The trend in the gaming industry was when a competitor lowers its price, then another company will follow. But the recent price cuts we’ve seen aren’t a result of of a system meeting the end of its life cycle, but because it’s faltering position in the market.

Sony is sticking to its guns and keeping the Vita at its current price in Japan, even though a reduction in price will definitely make the new handheld very attractive to consumers.

Do you think Sony should drop the price of the Vita? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: Bloomberg

tags: 3DS, Nintendo, Sony, Vita