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Sony PS Vita is One of 2012’s Worst Product Flops

This time last year the gaming world readied itself for the release of Sony’s PlayStation Vita. Even though the device itself was a technological marvel, many were sceptical as to whether or not the Vita would overcome the stigma surrounding Sony’s hand held gaming efforts after the somewhat underwhelming PlayStation Portable (PSP). Unfortunately, the Vita’s first year has not looked good, with many considering it to be one of 2012’s worst product flops.

A round-up of this year’s worst product launches published by financial blog 24/7 Wall Street puts the Vita up there with the cringe worthy Apple Maps and Disney’s John Carter film. The article collected initial sales data and compared it with that of the entire year to paint a picture of the extent at which sales have waned.

The Vita was first released in Japan in December 2011 and then globally in February of this year. By the end of February Sony were flaunting encouraging sales figures showing that they had sold roughly 1.2 million units and additional 2 million units of physically; and digitally distributed software. However, the number of sales quickly dropped and between the Vita’s release and June 30th, only a total of 2.2 million consoles were sold.

The sting of these poor sales figures are only enhanced when compared to Sony rival Nintendo, who sold 3.6 million 3DS consoles in the first month of its release. In fact, Sony has recently been combining the sales data of the PS Vita and the PSP in order to relive its embarrassment.

Ps vita

As with 2005’s PSP, Sony fell into the trap of relying too heavily on the technological prowess of the PS Vita to sell units instead of focussing on the initial line up of exclusive launch titles. Many of the games Sony have counted on to shift units, such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation and Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified turned out to be nothing more than bite-sized versions of their superior PlayStation 3 counterparts. Again, compare this to the Nintendo 3DS, which had the extremely well received Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 to back it up at launch, and it’s not hard to see why many people passed on the PS Vita’s bloated $300 price tag. Even now the world still waits for the Vita’s true ‘killer app’, while the numberof games that are exclusive to the Vita can be counted on one’s fingers.

All in all, it’s a shame that the PS Vita has managed to slip by most gamer’s radars in less than one year. With the right line up of good quality games harnessing the handheld’s graphical capabilities, as well as its unique touch pad and conventional button control scheme, there’s no reason why Sony can’t pull this one around come 2013.



  1. I blame the face that they called it the “vita”, bad name, bad marketing, and overpriced. It had potential but it’s too little too late. Hopefully they get the PS4 right.

    1. It’s just shocking that a company as large as Sony still isn’t able to figure out how to market a hand held, or to even figure out what their customers really want. In my opinion they’ve done almost exactly the same thing they did with the PSP, so it’s hard to sympathise.

      Not sure I’d blame the name though, the Wii sounded ridiculous when it was first unveiled and that did very well indeed.

      Predicting exactly how Sony will market the PS4 is hard to do considering that at this point no one is 100% certain what exactly the PS4 will actually be. Only time will tell.

      1. Avatar Mohseen Lala says:

        I thin Sony have nailed down the art of terrible product launches. So let’s sum this up, awful PSP launch, terrifyingly terrible PS3 launch, and a supremely lack luster PS Vita launch. I guess Sony is bored of its money and formerly good reputation. I’m not holding my breath for PS4/ORBIS.

        1. As much as I hate to admit it, that’s not too far from the truth. What bothers me more is how Sony have treated customers post-launch with their myriad firmware updates, high PSN prices and removal of features. Remember when Sony took away the ability to install other OSes onto the PS3? Now that we have the news of the PS2’s days being numbered, I suppose this marks the end of Son’t ‘golden era’.

          1. Avatar Mohseen Lala says:

            Are Sony Stupid? The PS2 is the best selling console in my country, it’s the only one average people can afford, and the games cost about $2, so a lot of people buy it. The average salary here is $250, and living costs have skyrocketed into the stratosphere. No one can afford a $200+ PS3 and then pay $60 extra PER FREAKIN’ GAME! Cancelling the PS2 is financial suicide for Sony in the African gaming market. Anyway, I think the adage “Sony shot themselves in the foot” no longer applies, how about “shot themselves in the head”?.
            The PS4 launch schedule is mimicking that of the PS3, with the console slated to arrive after the Xbox 720/DURANGO. What really hurts is, I’m actually a fan of Sony….RIP my old Japanese friend.

            1. I wouldn’t be too concerned. The PS2 news only directly concerns Japan. Like you said, the PS2 is still thriving across Africa and other regions such as South America and I doubt Sony would cease production in those areas just yet.

              You’re right about the costs of gaming. I live in mainland Europe and it’s been a real struggle to play games while they’re still new. That’s why I play so many indie games…!

              1. Avatar Mohseen Lala says:

                Haha! Speaking of stupid moves by Sony, just got an E-mail in my inbox telling me they’ve filed a patent to make second hand games useless. The technology patented also states that a working internet connection is NOT required. So in other words, you’ll be forced to buy expensive games, and then stick with them for life. NO sharing, no second hand sales, no Gamestop, no playing your disc at a friends place.
                I guess the obvious target for this patent is the PS4? I hope they just file and don’t use it. If the PS4 DOES have this though, screw console gaming then, I’ll jump to PC for good. I can live without Sony exclusives. But not without gaming itself 🙂

                1. It’s true that the patent, if fully realised, would spell bad news for gamers unable to shell out $60 a game, but it is just a patent. Large electronic companies file out patents all the time that they never intend to use in the event that they need to utilise the technology later down the line. If the next-gen consoles even use discs the only way I can see Sony pulling this off is if Microsoft and Nintendo are also doing the same. The PS3 exclusives aren’t enough these days to keep gamers loyal to the system, especially when the company behind said system makes it far too expensive to own.

                  But yeah, the way console prices are going up these days, a decent PC may cost you just as much as the PS4 and will be a far more flexible gaming machine. Failing that there’s always the ‘Steam Box’:


                  1. Avatar Blob the bob says:

                    It’s garbage how you hear that major companies like EA or Activision are pulling this stunt…fact is they make alot as it is, now with a enormous appetite of corporate greed; those major companies are biting the hand that feeds them. It’s sad really

            2. Avatar Morgan Gonzales says:

              Wouldnt it make more sense that the PS4 coming out for the rest of the world, would make the PS3 prices fall to the point that you are getting those crazy prices on PS2 system/games. Which be real those prices you are talking about so highly that were far closer to the $60 pricepoint you are getting BOLDED over when we got them in our countries. To be real honest the PS2 being so easily Hackably Soft Modded AND the fact its so damn old is the reason why its been stopped in production. Its just the same as why Nintendo finally dropped the Wii U, well the Wii is probably easier to hack at this point but the lack of HD has been there for too long.

              Both MS and Sony are behind on the hardware curve. If I could go out and buy a PS3.5 that had faster everything, RAM, BRDrive, Video Card, and could play all my PS3 with PC settings or real close. Something that could actually deserve the moniker of Elite version of a console. I’d buy that. Hopefully Valve’s Steam-Box can become a reality..

      2. Avatar cameron forsyth says:

        whats so wrong with that? granted it didn’t sell well due to it’s price but thats what sony has always been about, producing top quality products. the vita holds true to that with it currently being the most advanced handheld device, i buy sonys products because unlike with other companies i trust them to meet my requirement , the psp was equally advanced at it’s time and thats what i think sells it.

        then you have to consider that sony is making a good deal of work to turn their devices towards the multimedia market like the eye pad. but above all that i think your blowing this all out of proportion, the 3ds is selling greatly with it’s appeal to everybody and the ps vita isn’t doing as great but thats not to say the vita is doing bad? the vita isn’t selling at a never before seen level, and just because it isn’t that does’t mean it’s doing bad. the vita is making a profit as a matter of fact and how is that a bad thing?

        then you have to consider that price isn’t a factor since the 3ds was sold at the same price and yet sold much strongly than the vita.

        on a irrelevant and personal note one of the reasons why i dislike nintendo is because they are too focused on selling their products than developing them, the 3ds doesn’t compete to the vita in its specs and yet nintendo have the nerve to sell it at the same price? only to lower it a couple of months latter due to it’s truely overpriced nature. back to my point how is the vita overpriced? or the psp for that fact?

        1. The Vita is overpriced when compared to gaming experiences that can be had for the same price or lower. The Xbox 360, 3DS XL and even the PS3 can be found for cheaper, often with games bundled with it. It’s a problem when Sony’s handheld gaming experience costs more than the console that experience is based off.

          Price is always a factor and I’m not quite certain how it couldn’t be. As you said yourself, the 3DS launched at a price point that Nintendo customers were either unable or unwilling to pay for, and as a result Nintendo slashed the price. It was only after that that the 3DS started selling well.

          Sony’s PS Vita, on the other hand, isn’t selling well. A plateau of 2.2 million units sold in roughly the first six months of launch isn’t successful. Also, I don’t know where you read that the PS Vita has been profitable for Sony, because they’re selling it at a loss.

          Thanks for the comment.

          1. Avatar Nicholas Gatewood says:

            Hell, at this point just get a Dreamcast or a PSone then, if games are all that matter to you. Let’s all just forget about technological progression and take turns fellating Nintendo, that’s totally what we should all do.

            I would rather have my Vita than any other console in the world. Nothing’s better in my eyes; some consoles are more powerful but they aren’t portable, and other portables are cheaper but they’re nowhere near as good.

            I got the 3DS at launch, it single-handedly ended my previously lifelong streak of Nintendo fanaticism. It opened my eyes to the low quality they had on offer, so in a way it was kinda good for me. Luckily Nintendo accepted a refund of that disgusting system and I got the Vita at launch, every day since I’ve gamed on the system.

    2. Avatar cameron forsyth says:

      hu? isn’t 3ds pretty much the stupider name of the two. or wii, or wii-u

    1. I wouldn’t say it’s the console itself that is bad. It’s the mediocre games and Sony’s poor marketing strategy that let it down. I really do hope to see the PS Vita rise from the grave in 2013, it has potential.

      1. Funny thing is, though, the game’s aren’t mediocre. I’d argue that for a device that’s been on the market for a dash under 12 months, it’s got a strong line-up. Definitely stronger than the 3DS, and it has more games on it now that I’ve played or wanted to play than the 360 or PS3 had at the same time in their lives. The big issues as far as I can see them are price (it’s incredible value for money, but handheld gamers tend to be younger and have less money), an insane culture of entitlement (people were complaining about the launch line-up – one of the best launch line-ups in the history of gaming, period – when people complained about that, I wondered if there was any hope left for mainstream gamers) and the inevitable competition in the smartphone space (which isn’t competition at all for me personally – the quality and control gap is just too large – but there are plenty of handheld gamers who are happy with a cheaper, third-rate product, and that’s an issue Sony will have to deal with).

        1. Avatar Nicholas Gatewood says:

          I absolutely agree on the quality of Vita software, it’s by far the best portable gaming device on the market. Sony just hasn’t marketed it properly, and the proprietary memory is a huge mistake on their part. Oh well. :<

  2. I actually very much like the Vita’s game line-up, it could be better, and hopefully this year it will get better, however it is a little disappointing that it has been out for a year and the launch releases are still the best games to date. Although the games that are out now (Minus the Ubisoft and “Minis”) aren’t bad, and as long as people continue to buy it, it should get some nice releases, and if not it will go the way of the Virtual Boy, Vectrex and PSX. I hope for the first one. Aside from the games, the hardware is incredible for a handheld, it’s better than my PC. So the only issues that I can see, are games and a few software bugs. Over all, I think it is a pretty nice console.

  3. Great machine, tons of great games, superb controls and graphics. Best hand held ever in my opinion. Vita is fantastic, I play it almost every day. Free games each month with plus and it has it all. Blockbuster games like Uncharted, mini games, ps one catalogue, psp catalogue. What’s not to like?

  4. Whilst the Vita has definitely underperformed and there are reasons to say it failed this year, the arguments set out in this post are pretty poor – particularly in the penultimate paragraph:

    1) The Vita had one of the strongest launch line-ups in recent times. Exclusives, multiplats, 1st and 3rd party games, varying genres and price points. It had it all. To say the likes of Uncharted, Rayman Origins, FIFA, Mutant Blobs (one of the most underrated and overlooked games on PSN), various cross-buy titles and much more is a weak line-up is crazy.

    2) The 3DS launched in March 2011. The two Mario games you claim were available “at launch” came out in November and December of that year. So that is completely false. Nintendo famously had a very rough start with the 3DS, prompting them to introduce the ‘ambassador program’ which gave free games to the early adopters who had suffered a horrible launch period.

    3) The Vita launched at $250, not $300.

    4) There are currently less than 10 exclusive Vita games? I count 15 AT LAUNCH.

    1. Avatar Nicholas Gatewood says:

      Yeah, this article is pretty awful. I’m honestly offended by its existence, it’s like the writer wants the Vita to fail miserably so he posts this article. Definitely shouldn’t have been posted.

  5. Personally my uncle gift me it few days ago and its working very good.Design is good but screen size is small.Without screen size everythings is perfect.

  6. Avatar brutalpanther says:

    I stiil believe the vita is going to make a strong comeback.Since the japan price cut and i believe a price cut coming soon to other regions.The last 2 weeks it has out sold the nintendo 3ds,A first for the vita.And with the announcement of ps4 cross play i see a potential for a turnaround of the vita.Sure it needs a breakout game in north america.And killzone could be a solid game to convience more studios to take notice.Luckily it has the internal power to keep up with changing technology.Sony has itself to blame for vitas slow start.They assumed because it said SONY on it and the success of the psp would make the vita a instant hit.But as with most of sony’s products it was overpriced.And game developers knew this.One of its biggest faults was no included internal memory.And then making consumers buy a overpriced memory stick that could only be purchased from SONY.How do you justify paying $80 for a memory card when sandisk and others has the same storage size for $30.I will be holding on to my vita,because i still see a bright future for the best handheld unit so far.

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