Stop me if you've heard this one before: huge Japanese console manufacturer releases cutting edge new handheld game system which sells fairly well its first week, and drops off sharply after that. Yes, it happened to Nintendo with the 3DS, and now it's happening to Sony with PlayStation Vita.
Still, the system has only been available in Japan for a couple of weeks. How bad can things be? Bad enough that some Japanese retailers are already slashing 20% off the system's price.
Despite a solid launch lineup and clearly impressive technology, Vita has had a rough go of it since it launched in Japan on December 17, 2011. Almost immediately after the system released, reports began to surface that Vita suffered from a number of glitches, several of which were captured on video.
Nonetheless, the system's launch numbers -- 325,000 units sold in the first 48 hours -- looked respectible. The numbers for the following week are tougher to defend: just 72,479 Vitas sold between December 19 and December 25. In contrast, Nintendo's 3DS sold 210,000 units during its second week of availability -- at the end of February, with a vastly less robust lineup of launch games.
Indeed, the shadow of 3DS is proving hard for Vita to escape, especially where pricing is concerned. That some Japanese retailers have slashed the price of the 3G Vita by 20% makes thier position pretty clear: a price cut worked wonders for 3DS, and Sony should follow suit. With a North American launch still seven weeks away, it is not entirely inconcievable that Sony could act to reduce the system's price -- but it's pretty close.
Of course, it isn't just that Japanese gamers aren't buying Vita, it's that they are buying 3DS instead. Predictably, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Monster Hunter 3G have set 3DS sales on fire in Japan. How can Nathan Drake be expected to compete with a lineup like that?
Obviously, this story is far from over, and Vita's fortunes may be very different when it launches in the rest of the world. Uncharted: Golden Abyss and WipEout 2048, two of the system's most important games, may simply be a better fit for the North American market. In any case, the clock is ticking, and if Japanese retailers continue to discount Vita, Sony may have no choice but to reconsider the system's price.
Ranters, would you be more likely to buy a Vita if Sony reduced the system's price?
The PlayStation Vita launches in North America February 22, 2012.
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