In a refreshing show of honesty, Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida admitted that sales for the PS Vita were slow, very slow, and that a large part of it had to with smartphones and tablets.
“That’s a really big part of it,” Yoshida said, talking to GamesIndustry.biz about the Vita and its struggles. “The price point… We were very excited to be able to launch PS Vita for $250, that was our target pricing – under $300, because you have to buy a memory card. But people already own smartphones, right? They’re paying lots of money to own smartphones – it’s subsidized but they’re paying back through a monthly subscription, two years of paying $80 every month, for example. That’s a lot of money they’re already spending.
“So for them, that’s already committed – and in order for them to play games on a smartphone, incremental investment is almost zero. It’s hard to compete with zero price, which is also why the free-to-play model makes sense for casual players.
“To your question, I was asked during TGS how badly this hurts portable gaming consoles, and my answer was – quite. Quite badly. There’s no question.”
Yoshida, however, unlike most company executives, did not flinch from addressing the elephant in the room with this reasoning. Namely, he did address the fact that the 3DS, another traditional handheld like the Vita, is doing much better than the Vita in spite of facing the same market conditions.
“But that’s not the only reason, in terms of the installed base – compare it to 3DS. The 3DS is doing much better.
“We don’t necessarily talk about catching up to the 3DS – but we’d like to increase the installed base of PS Vita. For us to be able to provide better hardware, in our mind – the new PS Vita is slimmer and lighter, easier to hold, has some internal memory from the get-go, so it’s a bit more value – but the important thing is to continue to provide great games and game experiences. The games can come not only from PS Vita’s dedicated games – Vita and PS4 are designed with each other in mind, to connect to each other. If you own a PS4, you can play PS4 games via remote play, and once we start the Gaikai service, you’ll be able to play PS3 games on PS Vita. We continue to add our services on PlayStation, and for PS Vita, the enjoyment and the sources of games will expand, not just from PS Vita dedicated games. Those are the strengths that we have on PS Vita compared to other products – it’s a device that you can use to enjoy PlayStation content from different sources,” he concluded, outlining a general plan as to what Sony was planning to do to address the increasingly dire Vita situation.