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 years 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.
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 amount of 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 hand held’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.