Whenever someone says the PlayStation Vita hasn't been doing well in Japan, it's usually followed up by the response, "we have to wait for a game that appeals to the Japanese audience." But if Japanese newspaper Nikkei is to be believed, publishers aren't willing to wait, and are already beginning to drop support for the system.
The newspaper reports that a major source in the Japanese games industry is claiming that native development teams are cancelling all Vita projects, in favor of the 3DS.
The 3DS saw a huge boost in sales after it's price cut and the release of some high profile games, namely Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Monster Hunter 3G. The Vita has continued to be outsold week over week by Nintendo's handheld, and this has caused some gamers to think the Vita is "doomed."
Sony's senior vice president of Worldwide Studios, Scott Rhode, spoke out about the quote today, claiming that he's not worried.
"I did not see that quote, but you see extremist quotes like that all the time. I mean, obviously, there is no way anyone could stand in front of a camera and say that all developers are changing focus from one platform to another, no matter what it is. [It's] largely exaggerated. I know many, many, many third party developers and publishers are feverishly working on Vita titles, not just for now, but for the foreseeable future."
Rhode also feels that the 3DS is just the "hot platform" at the moment, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Vita is doomed to failure.
"There's always going to be the hot platform of the moment in our industry, there's always going to be reason to talk about a story like that. You can, whatever -- rewind two years ago. Every developer was you knew was selling -- going towards -- I was going to say 'selling their soul', it almost came out -- to go build games for Zynga and the Facebook platform. And there's another time when you see everyone is going to do smaller iPad games, or iOS games in general. Then it was PS3, it was 360, it's Vita, it's 3DS. It's always, constantly changing. It's not something that concerns me whatsoever."
Currently, there are over seventy titles in development for the Vita, and that's a worldwide figure. It seems hard to imagine that so many developers would just scrap their projects -- that would be lost revenue. The PlayStation Vita has also only been released in one region, and doesn't officially launch in North America and Europe until next week. It seems rather shortsighted to just drop development without even seeing how the handheld performs in other territories -- especially considering the marketing budget for the Vita.
That said, it is entirely feasible that -- rather than drop support for Vita outright -- Japanese developers may now look to Nintendo's 3DS as the lead platform for future projects. The obvious fear is that Vita's library of third-party games will ultimately be dominated by 3DS ports that don't take significant advantages of Vita's processing power or control options, which would be a shame indeed.
Thanks to its success in the Japanese region, the PSP essentially became a haven for JRPGs, with many greats titles from the past seeing a rerelease on the system. It would be unfortunate if things were to turn out differently for Vita, but then again with over 275 PSP games available for it, at least we can play those if Japanese developers really do decide to drop support -- which still sounds doubtful.
The PlayStation Vita releases in North America February 22, 2011.
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