Well known analyst Michael Pachter (who has a patchy record at best with his productions) recently talked about the state of the handheld market. Surprisingly enough, in a dramatic break from tradition, he was pretty upbeat about Nintendo’s prospects in the market with the 3DS, while being gloomy about Sony and the Vita’s future.
“The sales are horrible. My model says the Vita sold 4.2 million last year. It’s a pretty small number and I don’t think they are going to build a business selling 4 million a year — and that number could go down. Vita is a little bit too elegant and a little too expensive. I always feel like I’m going to break it. But then it has relatively few games because they are complicated to make and the market is so small. Very few publishers are spending money to make them. You had Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, that cost Ubisoft a lot. It’s a whole new adventure. Sony will spend the money with their internal studios, but you’re just going to see [Vita] die a slow, painful death,” Pachter said.
He doesn’t think the PS4 will help the Vita recover either- “I don’t quite get it. First they were selling it as a controller, which was lame. I would rather just spend $50 on a controller. They were selling it as a controller because…I have to turn off the game on my TV because American Idol is on and I have to continue my session on my Vita? That’s what a DVR is for, you can watch American Idol later. I think most people who have competing concerns about use of the console versus watching TV have their console on a different TV from where their wife is. I agree those are cool features, but it’s limited.”
He went on to say that Sony has no future in the handheld market: “There is no future and they couldn’t do any better [than Vita]. The market is what it is because of Nintendo. Nintendo built the market and Nintendo has the best name in handhelds. I just think [Sony] misjudged the size of the market and launched it into this s—storm of mobile destroying the casual end of dedicated handhelds. And Nintendo’s not giving up much share on the hardcore side, because they have three games to every one Sony game, and they are good games.”
When asked if the lowered projections of the 3DS were concerning, he seemed to be pretty unfazed.
“No, I think it’s realistic and we’re not talking about massively down – it’s a couple million. If you look at peak Nintendo DS sales, they were north of 25 million for three years in a row. They’ve steadily come down since. I don’t think it’s because the 3DS is an inferior product or priced too high, it’s just that the handheld annual market is now a 15 million annual market – and being split by Vita,” he said.
So, Pachter doesn’t think Sony has a future with dedicated handhelds. That sounds reasonable enough, as it’s unlikely Sony will want to bother after the failure of the Vita, but still, what do you think? Let us know.