Last week, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto offered his opinion of Sony’s PlayStation Vita. In short, Mario’s dad doesn’t think the system is a “very strong product.” Discussing his own company, Miyamoto takes pains to point out the importance of “key software” to Nintendo’s platforms, and though he doesn’t come right out and say so, the implication is that “key software” is one area in which the Vita comes up notably short.
Add another voice to that chorus — quite an important, powerful voice at that. Sony President and CEO Kaz Hirai, discussing PlayStation Vita sales, all but echoes Miyamoto’s sentiment. “We have to reinforce the software area in order to improve the business.” Great minds, it seems, really do think alike.
Hirai’s remarks come from Sony’s 2011 fiscal year end earnings call, during which it was revealed that a total of 1.8 million PlayStation Vita systems have been sold since the unit’s launch in Japan last December. Hirai characterized the number, which reflects sales through March 31, 2012, as “…a good start.”
It may, in fact, be a good start — but just barely. Vita sales have driven off a proverbial cliff in Japan, and though they are (currently) stronger in the rest of the world, Nintendo’s 3DS is outselling Sony’s system by a huge margin in every territory on the planet. What can Sony do to turn the situation around? As with every system ever, it all boils down to one simple directive: deliver great games.
“For a game platform, like Vita, the software is the key to success — how good the software is, that is the key to business success.”
“Software and services must be strengthened. In other words, the collaborative approach is very important, so is third-party. And from first-party studios, the titles will be presented one after the other, so please look at them and give your evaluation based on them.”
Indeed, Vita is currently well-supported by both third and first-party studios, and boasts a wide ranging selection of titles — recent additions include Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention and Mortal Kombat, while Resistance: Burning Skies is just a couple of weeks away. After that, there isn’t much on the horizon.
Gravity Rush — a visually luscious, mechanically innovative title that is sadly unlikely to move the needle on Vita sales — is due June 12, as is the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, with LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes set to follow a week later, and… well, that’s about it. Hirai’s admission that first-party titles will arrive “one after the other” must refer to games that have yet to be revealed, suggesting that some big Vita announcements are in store for E3 2012. Prime suspects include the allegedly game changing, previously announced Vita iteration of Call of Duty, and perhaps the rumored Monster Hunter project.
Then again, are a first-person shooter and a title that has little broad appeal outside of Japan the right games to kick start Vita’s sales? For that matter, can any game — or group of games — revitalize Vita’s reputation, or will Sony have to go the Nintendo route and cut the system’s price to drive interest? What do you think?
Ranters, what game would make you buy a PlayStation Vita? Let us know in the comments below.
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