It's no secret that the PlayStation Vita hasn't been performing up to expectations after its launch in Japan last month. Sony did confirm at their CES presentation this past week that the Vita has sold a respectable 500,000 units in Japan, but the system is still selling a little slower than the 3DS did at its launch and some Japanese retailers had to lower the price of the 3G model. Sony's initial troubles with their new handheld in Japan aren't a large concern to them at the moment, and they seem quite keen on the device's future thanks to the quality of the handheld.
GameSpot recently nabbed an interview with Sony's director of hardware marketing, John Koller, during the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. Koller explained why the Japanese tech giant isn't sweating about the initial sales of the PS Vita quite yet, and that they plan on building the appeal of the system through word-of-mouth from happy Vita owners.
"If you look at the word-of-mouth factor, it's really strong because people are bringing it home and really enjoying it. That satisfaction rate is really high. But also in terms of when we funnel in additional hardware units, that'll dictate how many sales there are and how many sell through.
"We're still in the first couple weeks, and we're trying to get as many units into market as possible. We're going to give it some time, but overall those numbers have been to forecast."
I think it's safe to say that Sony may have lowered their initial expectations after watching the 3DS struggle upon its release, but they still can't be that pleased with the numbers they've reached for the Vita thus far. Koller stated that Sony has a solid game plan that will provide Vita owners with tons of content throughout the entire year — even going so far as to take a shot at the 3DS and its lack of software during and after launch.
Sony does have the upper hand when it comes to software, having launched with 24 titles and there's more than 70 in development for the Japanese market.
"What we really wanted to do, and I think we learned from past, most recent, handheld device launches, is that you don't want to launch strongly and then go dark for three or four months and have nothing… So in subsequent months for Vita, we have launch, then we have MLB, then we got Mortal Kombat, then Resistance, then Little Big Planet, then Call of Duty, and Assassin's Creed."
While Sony is quick to reference mistakes that rival Nintendo has made with the 3DS, it should also be made clear that Sony is very happy for the recent turnaround the 3D-enabled handheld has had in the past few months. A separate interview between SCEE president and COO Jim Ryan and MCV revealed that the 3DS' recent success flies right into the face of all the "naysayers" who believed there simply wasn't room for a dedicated gaming handheld in today's current market.
“One of the encouraging things about 3DS’ sales performance at Christmas is that it is confounding the naysayers who say that there is no room in the market for a dedicated handheld gaming device, and to that extent we were encouraged by how 3DS did over the last month.”
Nintendo has proven that there is a demand for a dedicated gaming portable, but is there room for more than one? It's far too soon to say, considering that the PS Vita has yet to even see a release outside of Japan. However, the device is just a little over a month away from launch, so we'll see how it fairs after it hits store shelves in North America on February 22nd.
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