Nintendo has always been the king of the handheld market. Ever since it released its GameBoy years ago, no other competitor has been able to knock it out of the top spot, despite plenty of companies trying to take its place. The Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket, Lynx and the N-Gage all fell victim to Nintendo’s death grip on the handheld market. Besides mobile phone gaming, Sony is the last competitor for Nintendo to confront. Unfortunately for Sony its latest handheld, the PlayStation Vita, is not selling very well.
So how does Nintendo keep winning this market year after year? It can’t be raw power. Every generation of Nintendo’s handheld devices is usually the underdog when it comes to power. This generation is no different. In terms of power, the Vita is much stronger than the 3DS. So why then has the 3DS sold over 32 million units and the Vita has sold just over 5 million? Maybe it has to do with the price difference.
I am not saying that pricing is the only thing that is keeping the Vita from selling, but it is obviously not helping. You only have to look at Japan to see my point. The Vita was previously having just as hard of a time selling in Japan as it currently is in other parts of the world. Then Sony dropped the price a bit for Japanese gamers, and sales significantly increased. Yes, the Vita is still being outsold by the 3DS there, but that is to be expected because Nintendo has Japan on lockdown. The point of the matter is simple, Sony dropped the price, and sales picked up. So why have we not seen a price drop outside of Japan?
According to Sony’s Senior Vice President of the PlayStation brand in America, Guy Longworth, the Vita is at the “right price.” He says that the company did not announce a price drop during E3 because it honestly feels that the Vita is a great value for its $249.99 price tag. He also made it clear that since the price was not dropped during E3, it is safe to assume that a future price drop will not come any time soon.
Longworth added that the Vita is only 15 months old. With the PS4 knocking at the door as well, the Vita has a chance to be the perfect companion for the system. He did admit that the Vita did not get off to the fastest start, but he also quickly added that this is common knowledge by now.
In short, instead of announcing a price cut to move more Vita systems, Sony is going to wait for the PS4 to launch and hope that the new console will drive the success of the Vita. The only problem with this logic is the fact that the PS4 will cost $400, and if you add on the $250 price tag of the Vita, consumers are looking at needing to make a huge $650 investment. After all, Longworth did say that the company’s believes the PS4 will drive sales for the Vita. This means, they expect people to buy both a Vita and a PS4 when the system launches.
The truth of the matter is, the Vita is not a bad system. It just has a lot working against it. Not only is the price point higher than its biggest competitor, the 3DS, but there has been a pretty big drought of great Vita games. Right now there are just not enough reasons for people to show interest in the Vita. Only time will tell if Sony’s theory on the PS4 moving more Vita systems will turn out to pay off.