E3 2012 – Vita in life or death situation

Vita’s launch was far from bad. In ten days, it sold 400’000 in Japan, 250’000 in North America and more than 300’000 in Europe, which was totally in line with what 3DS achieved a year before. This was no small feat because, unlike 3DS, PSVita did face competition at launch, i.e. a 3DS that had already boomed thanks to its price cut. Furthermore, the minimum investment to get a Vita is considerably higher than for 3DS, something betwwen 350€ and 400€, mine being as follows :

  • PSVita 3G – 300€

  • Memory Card 32Go – 89€

  • Memory Card 4 Go – 0€ (free)

  • Unit 13 – 0€ (free)

  • Gravity Daze Import – 75€

  • Insurance – 40€

  • Starter Pack – 20€

which almost made me in the red in May…

Taking this into account, Vita put up a good fight during the first weeks against a much cheaper 3DS. The smartphones competition and the lack of fresh releases quickly began to hinder the new handheld’s sales : Vita fell under 10’000 units sold per week in Japan, and under the 20’000 bar in the US and Europe. Business is not expected to improve any soon : after Gravity Daze on June 13th, the release schedule is blank.

This is the Vita’s biggest problem : no one seems eager to develop on it. Even in Japan, skittish publishers prefer to stay clear from Vita and keep releasing games for PSP, which has a 20-million and active installed base. Potential system-sellers such as Shining Blade, Sol Trigger, God Eater 2 or Tales of Heroes are comfortably restricted to PSP, despite the powerful boost they could have provided to her little sister. But those games would have sold approximately twice as less on Vita, which will definitely deter publishers as tthe economic crisis still looms ahead.

E3 was therefore a golden opportunity for Sony to promote the Vita through a wider line-up. They clearly missed the boat : in the middle of prominent announcements like Beyond – Two Souls, Wonderbook or The Last of Us, Sony barely cited two new Vita games, being Black Ops Declassified and Assassin’s Creed Liberation. OK, they’re spin-offs from the two biggest Ips this year, but two is a little insufficient. So by the end of 2012, we basically have Street Fighter X Tekken, BO Declassified, ACIII Liberation and Hatsune Miku Next. Soul Sacrifice and the new Nippon Ichi don’t look like they will release before 2013. On those conditions, Sony’s objective of a 10-million installed base by April 2013 will be a struggle…


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