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Published on April 17th, 2012 | by Shawn Long, Features Editor

Is The Vita Failing Right Before Sony’s Eyes?

The Vita is probably one of the most interesting systems released in recent memory. With console-like graphics, 3G capability, touch screens, and a large crisp display, the Vita looked poised to dominate the handheld gaming market. While initial sales were decent, the system has plummeted in Japan and is now being outsold by the PSP, now nearly 8 years old. In the US, the Vita started strong but has now faltered, moving a paltry 28,000 systems for the week ending April 7, 2012. So what is wrong? Well, a couple things.

First and foremost, the price is unacceptable. The 3G model is $300 USD. The base model, with no memory card, is $250, making it the most expensive system on the market. While I understand that the technology is expensive, you cannot expect gamers to fork over that much cash for a handheld that comes with nothing. The games can reach up to $50 as well, and Sony has a hard grip on the memory card market for the system. No third-party memory devices are out yet since Sony used another format for memory, meaning prices are absurd. So really, the only people who are buying this system are people who can afford new technology, or are trading in their other games to purchase it.

Another problem is that while the Vita does do a lot of things, such as multimedia, tablets and smartphone do it better and cheaper. You can get an Android-based tablet that supports Netflix, browses the web, and does a lot more than the Vita can for under $100. Smartphone users are also a part of Sony’s intended audience, but once again these phones do all that and more, and for a cheaper price. The Vita has 3G, but that technology fades as 4G internet takes over. Plus, once again, phones and tablets do it at a cheaper price. It’s nice that the Vita has the ability to do a lot, but it is really just a jack of all trades, master of none.

Finally, we have to look at the library of Vita games. While it’s nice to see Uncharted and Ninja Gaiden at launch, I can play these games on the PS3. The Vita has not released a game that fully takes advantage of the systems capabilities; instead it feels like a weaker, portable PS3. If I want to play PS3 games, I can play them at home. Handheld systems are supposed to be different and unique, offering an experience that you either can’t have in the living room, or are better suited to play on the road. Besides Little Deviants which was a tech demo, the Vita just feels like the PSP all over again as Sony tries to pump out franchise games that are better suited on a console. I mean, how many Metal Gear Solid games did the PSP get? It was so oversaturated that consumers lost interest.

There are other things that bother me about the Vita, such as short battery life, small button layout and no clam-shell enclosure to protect the screen, but all of these things are nothing new for a Sony handheld. The PSP had the same issues, and you would think that Sony would learn, but obviously they haven’t. I’m not saying it’s all doom and gloom for the system, and there are some good games out there that are very enjoyable. I just find it very hard to justify dropping such a large amount of money on a handheld when I could pick up a tablet and a 3DS for the same price and do more. I honestly hope that at E3 the Vita has a great showing and re-instills faith in the consumer, but we will have to wait and see. For now, the Vita is a severe underachiever, and hopefully Sony can realize this and help the system succeed.

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About the Author

Gaming for 23 years! Primarily into Nintendo systems, but play everything. Add me on Facebook, Shawn Long, on Twitter @ShawnLong85 or email me at slong@gamingtruth.com

  • Guest

    The vita will be fine. Never believe hype or doom and gloom

  • Arma_moon

    little big planet isnt out yet, and it WILL bring new things to the LBP world.

  • Dogr

    Horrible article. Please at least try to do a little research before writing crap. Little big planet is not even out yet for the vita and Uncharted for the vita can not be played on a ps3. It’s a completely different game. Stick with nintendo although I seriously wonder if you know who Mario is!

    • I was making a comparison to Uncharted being available on the PS3 and on Vita. There are 3 Uncharted games on the PS3, and now 1 on the Vita. That doesn’t seem like oversaturation to you?

      • JohnB

        In comparison to franchises like Mario, Sonic, Street Fighter, Final Fantasy, Call of Duty etc. 4 games is not “oversaturation”. They are simply making more of what people will buy because the series as a whole has been received critically and commercially very well. What if Nintendo had said in regards to Mario “Eh, we’ve already made 3 great games, better not make another one or it’ll be oversaturated.”

  • anon

    Hit piece against the Vita by an anti Sony fanboy.  This article is utterly ridiculous, filled with Sony hatred about a new product they probably just can’t afford. Move along Vita trollololol.

    • Anon is gay

      So speaking the truth is being filled with hatred? LOL another butt hurt Sony pony.

  • what is wrong? this can be answered in just one sentence: lack of games.
    rehashes and ports never thrilled the common gamer. it is really as easy as that.

  • supergravity

    Biggest problem? The article, and it’s source, “Gaming for 23 years! Primarily into Nintendo systems, but play everything.” I’m guessing your 3DS is your pride and joy…I’m biased too, I love my VITA!

    • Right, I write for a VIDEO GAME website. Primarily Nintendo systems would mean the classics, as I play everything currently. So no, I’m not biased, as I actually have statistics to back up everything.

  • I actually wrote this article with love, because I think the Vita can be fantastic. I just don’t want another PSP Go situation, where buyers remorse justified peoples thinking. All in all, a fine piece of technology, I’m just not sure how it will fare as a system without better support!

  • Guest

    Don’t you think you should wait more than two whole months before listing the Vita as a failure? The 3DS struggled for a while before it finally got some decent games, and even after a year since it’s stateside launch, it’s software lineup leaves something to be desired.

  • Guest

    Remakes/rehashes on PSP/Vita = “Screw you Sony, nobody wants to play console games on handhelds.”

    Remakes/rehashes on 3DS = “OMG I LOVE YOU NINTENDO!!!!111~”

    The hypocrisy is truly wonderful.

  • JohnB

    It’s a recently released handheld system. It’s not a fucking Twilight book you get boners over. Give it time and it will gain steam. Sales will increase, more games will be released, more security in making the purchase. You have no statistics. Why don’t you just play your 3DS and Wii Not U and jack off to Princess Peach you sorry piece of shit. You can’t handle the Vita, hardly a woman.

    • I’m glad this has sparked such a debate, and I’m glad that people are getting into it. In no way do I want the Vita to fail, I’m just saying the numbers are ugly. And for those saying that there are no statistics, I’m pretty sure that there are some in the FIRST PARAGRAPH. Also, I don’t understand the attacks because I “primarily” play Nintendo systems, when I own every system to date. I say that as I have PLAYED Nintendo systems since 1988, whereas I have only played Sony systems since 95. See? 🙂

    • Johnb sucks cock

      John b, you’re a butt hurt Sony fanboy that can’t handle the truth. Jack off to that, bitch

  • Jayifrey

    I bought it, but I have buyer’s remorse. I bought Ninja Gaiden and MvC3. NG DOES NOT look anything near the PS3 version that it is ‘based’ off of (and the PS3 version is a near-launch title). It looks like the Xbox 1 original with slightly better lighting and half the fps (30fps and it lags). MvC3 looks nice, but like the 3DS SSF4 backgrounds are static. Honestly, it would run just as good on 3DS.

    I’m worried that the reasons I bought this for (like FFX) are going to be cancelled do to the fact that it is literally not selling. I mean this is not a ‘wait for some games, sales will pick up’ scenario. I don’t think the PSP ever sold this lackluster even early on. Any device that does usually doesn’t last. Oh and this thing is NOT anywhere near a PS3. It’s not much different than smart phone and tablet from a visual perspective. Has a nice big screen, not retina, but nice. I played Uncharted on the demo unit and it was jaggy. It’s running at lower-than-native res.

    Vita hasn’t blown me away. The specs are unimpressive. Quad core /= x86 quad core. It’s ARM. Cell phone tech. Devs aren’t used to utilizing four threads yet. They only just have gotten the hang of two. Should have put a dual core, same architecture in there. That way they could clock it higher and it would reduce heat/battery and improve performance because devs are more comfortable. And the visuals don’t impress if you’ve played any modern smart phone game. Nice to have physical controls, but this thing is huge. Bigger than the PSP phat. Technically superior to 3DS but pushing more pixels. Honestly, every game could run reduced on 3DS and still look okay. The difference is not DS/PSP this time. And I still think PSP looks good. Vita pushes 4x the pixels of PSP with only slightly more than 4x the power (PSP was dual processor, the media engine). Seriously, take off the fanboy biased blinders. It just doesn’t impress. Nice screen.

    • Thanks for the mature post Jayifrey. That’s pretty much what I’m trying to convey. I don’t want to see the system fail at ALL. I hope it has a kickass E3 showing and blows people away.

  • Takuya

    dude, any new system sucks the first year or sometimes even 2….. theres just no good games out. remember xbox360 and ps3 lol  Sales will eventually increase, its only a matter of time. 3ds sales are finally increasing….

  • I would hardly say the Vita is ‘failing’ at this point. It has sold 2 million units so far, and without losing money on every sale by lowering the price below cost (i.e. 3DS). I’m sure sales would pick up a bit if they lowered the price drastically, but Sony doesn’t usually jump into panic mode that quickly. Everyone predicted a price drop on the Vita at this year’s E3, but that didn’t happen. Sony obviously has a plan, and hopefully it’s a good one.

  • jake

    They have 4 titles now ooo ww how many times hasbzelda qnd mario been rehashed well over 20 each

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