PS Vita Launches In Japan; Long-Term Success Questionable

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News Posted: Sat, Dec 17 2011 7:50 PM
Sony's PlayStation Vita went on sale today in Japan to strong demand; there are reports that Sony sold-out all 700,000 units it set aside for the Japanese launch. ""I'm so happy to see so many people lining up for PS Vita so early in the morning," Sony Computer Entertainment Japan President Hiroshi Kono wrote in his official blog after touring several Tokyo stores. "I can tell they had anxiously waited for today's launch."

The handheld shipped out with an impressive 24 launch titles (the 3DS debuted with just eight), and is backwards compatible with PSP-downloadable games, PlayStation minis, the PlayStation Suite (aka PlayStation Certified titles) and PSOne Classics. It's not compatible with PSP games and doesn't support the UMD format Sony introduced with that handheld.

So far, early impressions have highlighted the high-quality screen (5" OLED, 960x544, 220ppi) and the system's low weight. The Vita combines a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU with a quad-core GPU based on Imagination Technologies SGX543. The Vita offers up to twice the GPU performance of the iPad 2, which uses an SGX543MP2, and outclasses anything else in the mobile market, including the just-released Tegra 3.


The PSP Vita is much larger than the PS2, but the size doesn't make the system heavy. Image courtesy of Kotaku

The big question, of course, is whether or not the Vita will catch the eye of more than the hardcore gaming crowd. Sony is still adamant that a $249 (WiFi) and $299 (3G) price point is what it'll use when it ships the device to North America in February.

The DS' performance this past year makes this a dicey bet. That system sold well below Nintendo's expectations until the company slashed prices to ~$170. Even then, sales didn't really explode until the launch of games like Super Mario 3D Land.

This isn't an accident. The 3DS took off when first-party titles from Nintendo started giving gamers a reason to buy it, and
when it's price was sufficiently below that of a high-end phone that gamers were willing to invest. The implication is that Sony needs to deliver on both fronts rather than just one—and it's not clear that the company can.

Sony, to be sure, has strong franchises of its own—but it's got nothing on Nintendo when it comes to the size and scope of the latter's first-party titles. In order to justify its price, Sony is going to have to prove that the Vita can deliver games of
sufficient scope + depth to utterly outclass anything available in a tablet or smartphone. Games so good, in fact, that they can justify the purchase of a $249 toy (assuming gamers don't opt for the 3G edition).

That's a tall order for any system, and the Vita, despite Sony's best efforts, may be biting off more than it can chew. What's your take on it? Are you excited for the Vita's launch, or looking at other gaming options?
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DDeveaux replied on Sat, Dec 17 2011 8:24 PM

That size comparison picture is misleading. The PSP Go has its controls under a slider, while the Vita is more like the original PSP. That said, it definitely will be larger than the PSP due to the display alone. :)

I don't think it will really be a big hit Stateside. It's a little big, and lasts even less on a charge than the 3DS. I think it will end up just as forgotten over here as the PSP. The PSP was more popular in Japan, and I think the Vita will continue that trend.

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CMcCrea replied on Sat, Dec 17 2011 8:26 PM

I am excited for the launch. It's got an amazing set of games launching, and personally, the $250 price tag isn't a whole lot, especially considering what it gives you.

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So if I get the 3G version, can I get a subsidised price? I ask because it seems pointless buying it otherwise. It would allow me to save cash on the phone bill and since I am looking for something for mobile gaming, its pretty ideal.

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I am excited for the Wifi version. 

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AKnudson replied on Sat, Dec 17 2011 11:36 PM

Mayhem has a point, if there was a subsidy down to 100$ a unit for the 3g version that came with a two year data plan i believe this would be a much more enticing offer for the average gamer.

I don't know how to help Sony unless they started offering modern warfare three on there little device because so far it out prices the Xbox.

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AKnudson replied on Sat, Dec 17 2011 11:38 PM

Can anyone tell me why they chose the nae vita, or what it means.

I have never heard of the PS2 shown above but i am intrigued by the little guy, is the dimensions for both of these devices available yet?

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DDeveaux replied on Sun, Dec 18 2011 4:18 AM

The second PSP is actually the PSP Go (the UMD-less version of the PSP that failed horribly in the market). Here's the dimensions (taken from Wikipedia)

PS Vita - 3.29" (h) x 7.2" (w) x 0.73" (d)

PSP Go: 2.7" x 5.0" x 0.65"

PSP (3000): 2.8" x 6.7" x 0.75"

Looking at this, I'm actually surprised the PS Vita isn't as big as I thought it would be.

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AKwyn replied on Sun, Dec 18 2011 6:59 AM

I can understand; I mean even though the price is reasonable for what it can do, I don't know if there's any place for it in a world increasingly becoming dominated through smartphones and tablets; despite Sony's intentions for the device.

Subsidizing the device with a 2 year data plan could work but I don't know if wireless companies are willing to jump onboard a device that doesn't really do much compared to the smartphones and netbooks they're offering with similar data plans; plus they lose money on stock if it doesn't sell as well as they expected.

The PS Vita is in a tough position, let's hope it can get out of it.

 

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GZeta replied on Sun, Dec 18 2011 11:41 AM

I think you're wrong about the exclusives bit. Not to be a fanboy but actually 2011 has showned Sony has the strongest lineup of exclusives in the market, boasting what I believe are something like 11 titles released exclusively for the PS3 (and that's not even counting the PSP exclusives like Valkyria Chronicles 3 or Parasite Eve 3rd Birthday). So much in fact, that it was a disadvantage for Sony, because it oversaturated the market of exclusives so most of them didn't sold as they should, instead of letting them breathe like Microsoft did releasing only Forza 4 and Gears 3.

Still, you can't really say that Sony can't compare to Nintendo when it comes to exclusives when some of that eleven titles are along the best released this year, including, obviously, Uncharted 3, but also Resistance 3 and inFamous 2.

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I never own a PSP :( just a PS3

Does the Vita worth it? The price is close to a PS3 too...

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Joel H replied on Sun, Dec 18 2011 1:58 PM

GZeta,

Exclusives aren't the same as franchises. I'm going to tackle this point two different ways. First, let's talk long-term trends. Check the 2005-2010 cumulative data (http://www.vgchartz.com/article/83467/top-wii-ps3-x360-franchises-from-2005-2010/).

From 2005-2010, MS sold 73.74 million copies of exclusive titles (out of the top 25 games). The PS3 sold 48.93M. The Wii sold 166.21M exclusive titles before we count the Wii Fit / Wii Sports etc series, which sold 174M copies--more than all the rest of the Wii games *combined.* Nintendo's total exclusive franchise sales are 340.64M, or nearly 3x the combined sales of XBox 360 and PS3 titles.

Now you're correct that Sony launched a number of highly lauded exclusive titles in 2011, while the Wii had a less-than-great year in that regard, but keep in mind, I didn't say Sony lacked for strong franchises. My point is that Sony's franchises are dwarfed in size, scope, and nostalgic value by Nintendo's. This last point is important -- some of the people still buying Nintendo systems (including handhelds) are buying them to play the latest iterations of games they picked up for the first time when they were 5-10 years old. Sony has a few franchises that stretch back more than a decade, Nintendo has something like a dozen.

When it comes to the idea of establishing a "walled garden", I think Nintendo's player base might be strong enough for the company to build an entrenched community around the 3DS for at least this generation. (I'm not saying this is a good strategy for Nintendo to take -- in fact, I think it's a wretched one -- but the company has refused to consider alternative license agreements thus far.

Sony, I think, is going to have more trouble in this department. That's partly why the Vita comes with support for things like Facebook out of the box. Sony clearly wants to maintain control of their own game development and gaming hardware, but they're trying to adopt some of the features of a modern smartphone in the hopes of offering enough cross-over functionality to keep players interested.

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Joel H replied on Sun, Dec 18 2011 1:58 PM

Vita is Latin. It means "Life."

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MarlyTXX replied on Sun, Dec 18 2011 3:53 PM

I have already purchased the early edition with 3g and wi-fi to get it a week early hear in the states. I think it will do well if people can start making some money in this economy, but I'm biased because I want it to do well. Phone apps and games will never be able to offer the depth and scope a gaming device like this can, so I'll never abandon the latter for the former. In my opinion Nintendo has peed away about a billion dollars over the last 2-3 years and their President should be fired, no matter how much he apologizes to shareholders. What they have NOT done is amazing considering their market-share.

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detnight replied on Sun, Dec 18 2011 7:32 PM

Great I have the PSP 1000 and the PSP 3000 now I need an one, ya know you can't be left behind. The old ones are great at work as long as the trash talk does not get to loud.

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ajm135 replied on Sun, Dec 18 2011 11:36 PM

Dang i wish that would have been the Xperia play with those same internals and size.

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"It's not compatible with PSP games and doesn't support the UMD format Sony introduced with that handheld. "

Uh, it is compatible with PSP games from the Playstation Store.

"The PSP Vita is much larger than the PS2, but the size doesn't make the system heavy. Image courtesy of Kotaku"

Uh, what? That's not a PS2, thats a PSP Go.

"Games so good, in fact, that they can justify the purchase of a $249 toy (assuming gamers don't opt for the 3G edition)."

Vita is not a toy. Unlike Nintendo, Sony isn't marketing the Vita to kids.(They said they wouldn't market to kids until 2014)

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