Editorial

Editorial: Why the PlayStation Vita isn't selling

The PlayStation Vita launched on December 17th in Japan last year, and whilst many are happy with their products, something is still lacking in Sony’s will to sell its newest portable games console.

For many, the Vita is essentially close-to-par with home consoles and more or less meets their needs for a high-end portable gaming experience, but at the same time completely ignores the fact that various things need to be improved to ensure the console’s success.

This is a different story for me, as the PlayStation Vita isn’t so fun on my end. My displeasure in Sony’s handheld console set in one month after I had reviewed it for Neowin earlier on in the year. The problem for me lies in the software line-up, limitations with PlayStation Network accounts and the fact that some of the features advertised for the Vita won’t come until a weeks’ time on August 28th when Sony’s mandatory firmware update is picked up on by Vita consoles worldwide.

The fact it has taken Sony so long to incorporate what I’d consider the fundamentals of a successor to previous hardware is simply unacceptable, and as a consumer, I feel cheated out of good money. I had actually paid double the price for a Vita due to import costs – I even bought two of them despite that, and then gave one out on my personal Twitter in early February.

Do not get me wrong; when you have a game that looks as good as Uncharted: Golden Abyss (pictured above) running on a portable console with a beautiful 5-inch OLED display, it’s hard to flaw the console, but when the same console doesn’t ship with the ability to play original PlayStation games, then Sony will find itself in a problem with consumers who already have their collection of PS1 games downloaded and no means to play or use the content – especially when it was advertised to do so.

Even PlayStation Portable games underwent a slow and painful process of being updated to work on the Vita’s newer hardware, which is partially why I feel no one bothered to buy the system at launch, and why no should purchase the Vita until its issues are resolved. The PlayStation Vita isn’t the most wallet-friendly console on the market and why anyone would pay the full retail price of $299 for a system struggling to grasp content previously acquired is beyond me.

Money and compatibility aside, the platform’s line-up has such little first-party AAA titles released at the moment and whilst Uncharted: Golden Abyss, MotorStorm: RC and WipEout 2048 are great games, there hasn’t been any highly rated game since the console made its debut worldwide on the 22nd February. Sure, there are cool trailers for upcoming games that will launch later this year, but after over six months of consistently playing Rayman Origins, I don’t think I’ll put any faith in Sony and it's third-party developers at this moment in time.

Another problem with the console is that it’s only be able to store one account at a time, meaning if users share consoles, then they are also forced to share one PSN account. This as a whole hasn’t been fixed and nor are there plans to. It’s not so much a big deal for people with one single PSN account per household, but for those competitive couples and family members, the PS Vita doesn’t do justice with multiple accounts like the PS3 does.

As of right now, I’m forced to share my PS Vita console and PSN account with my 8-year old sister, which I don’t mind in the slightest. However, she does, and by being old enough to play games properly, my sister strives for supremacy and hopes to trump me and my ridiculous amount of PSN trophies – but sadly even if she could somehow top my trophy count – it isn’t possible without another PSN account.

I just don’t see why Sony couldn’t have incorporated multiple account entries into the Vita. It seemed like a logical feature to implement – especially considering the PS3 could store multiple accounts from different regions.

All in all, the Vita’s performance is still fantastic, but it’s just a shame that the software line-up is mediocre at best. I feel at the console’s price point that the console really needs to offer people more options with the content they buy and the accounts they use to access it. Sony could easily fix these issues over the course of a year, but I’ve always found Sony incompetent and will likely avoid the issue with firmware updates primarily focusing on revised security – which is a bummer.

As stated previously, Sony will fix the compatibility with PS1 games next week – so that’s something to look forward to and this fall we will see some of the greatest games hit Sony’s portable console. Sony isn’t doing everything wrong entirely, for one, it’s doing a great thing with its cross-play title line-up.

Cross-play is essentially giving you the same game but for either your PS3 or Vita – depending on what platform you buy initially the game for. For example: if you bought the upcoming PlayStation All Stars game for the PS Vita, you’d get the PS3 version free and vice-versa. The idea of bringing real-first party titles that aren’t spin-offs is great. Sure the Vita will have some spin-off titles, but with games like Sly 4: Thieves in Time, PlayStation All Stars and Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force (pictured above) hitting the Vita platform this fall, one can only be happy that the platform is home to such great AAA titles – which sadly, wasn’t the case for the Vita’s predecessor, the PlayStation portable – but at least Sony’s doing something right.

What are your opinions on the matter? How do you think Sony could increase the sales of its newest portable system? Let us know in the comments section.

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it isnt selling because it doesnt run homebrew........and other stuff.

people round here the first question they as me is "can it run "homebrew""? if it cant they are not intrested....

the vita isn't selling because not even sony believe in the device. if they did they would have thrown all their energy behind it and got a decent bundle of games out for the device. they haven't.

i think some of you guys confuse the market; the market for the 3ds isn't the same market as what the vita is competing for. the sort of person who buys a 3ds has zero interest playing uncharted. they want to play mario and other games with pretty bright graphics and plinky plonk music - they are a completely different audience. the problem with the vita is that it doesn't know what it is.

basically, sadly, it's dead. surprisingly sony didn't learn anything from the predecessor devices. they didn't change anything that they did, marketing wise, price wise, gaming wise, but they expected a different outcome.

the days of sticking a 'sony' logo on a piece of electronics and hoping people will rush out and buy it were over in the 1990s, shame sony haven't realised it yet.

I have a 3DS, iPhone 4S and a Vita.

3DS great for the usual Nintendo line up. Mario Kart is amazing.

iPhone, while I play the odd game, just doesn't do it for me without an analogue stick.

The Vita, I have with Uncharted and Wipeout. Uncharted is a lot of fun but I found it limiting. It seems to just a lot of climbing without any puzzle solving. Its all quite scripted, tomb raider on the PS1 was a lot stronger in terms of game play. Wipeout, I always buy Wipeout and then get board quickly and realise that it doesn't really change. FZero needs a reboot.

I bough the Vita believing Sony saying they would be announcing lots of games for it, that the Eve online FPS would be an actual game ( they showed footage ) rather than just a companion app and there would be a big back catalogue. None of those have happened and now I feel lied to, they made hardware and forgot about the software. Vita needs many more titles and soon or it will be a failure.

Sony have such a big back catalogue that it can be only greed or incompetence that have left it in this state.

Sony can put the entire PS2 library on the Vita via emulation and it'd be a buy in my book. Sony is sitting on a gold-mine with the PS2 library and all they've done is take it out of the PS3 and done some remasters. Even the remasters would help if done in mass and continuously.

helios01 said,
Sony can put the entire PS2 library on the Vita via emulation and it'd be a buy in my book. Sony is sitting on a gold-mine with the PS2 library and all they've done is take it out of the PS3 and done some remasters. Even the remasters would help if done in mass and continuously.

The architecture probably isn't strong enough to emulate the PS2 or only a few of the less taxing games (which probably need to be modified to work). The same thing you see with PS2 games on the PS3 now which are basically modified games as they aren't complete bit for bit copies of the originals.

Sony shot themselves in the foot when they decided to use proprietary memory cards. I won't get a Vita unless I can buy memory cards easily and cheaply.

The answer is simple. With phones and tablets everywhere now, nobody is interested in a dedicated portable gaming console anymore.
Back in the day when the Gameboy actually offered something unique that wasn't available on things we already owned (our phones), then was the time. But just like CDs, cassettes tapes, and VHS, the time has passed and Sony just didn't see it happen this time. PS Vita was dead before it even got to the market though. The whole idea is too antiquated and unnecessary in todays world.

The main reason why PSVita is not selling is the lack of games, the price of the device, smartphones and hardcore gamers are no longer into handheld devices from games which is why they use a smartphone for the casual gaming stuff. The only reason 3DS is doing well is that it's market to kids which a lot don't have a smartphone for gaming.

It's so bizarre. I am REALLY interested in the device, but I cannot justify spending my money on it. While I love video gaming, my ability to play in recent years has gone down drastically and is not even close to what it once was. I hardly EVER touch my main systems anymore at all! Shoot, I hardly even watch TV anymore. Therefore, it would be hard for me to justify spending my money on something I will get moderate (at best) use out of.
What would make me buy one? I dont know for sure. As much as I would like to have one I just may never buy because it would sit on my shelf collecting dust. Maybe if it was around $100? I duno.....

Sony said they don't want to cut the price of the Vita in 2012. So, price is not going to be a factor to help sell more Vita. So, better games need to become available and soon.

And, stores around here don't carry the PSP or PS2 anymore. So I don't know how someone could still buy them.

i believe that the opinions on the Vita are following the same route as the 3DS. since it hasnt already sold 20mil units, it's automatically a failure. just as the 3DS picked up steam, so will the Vita. it's only been out in the US for 6mo.

i'll agree about the game situation though. there's just not enough good titles yet.

also, about the price - there's zero reason to own the 3G model. i guarantee hardly anyone uses 3G on their unit. save $50 and put it towards a bigger memory card

:-|
VITA is doing it well, however the usual SONY strategy is focused in a mid-long term success. For example, right now, SONY is selling PS3, PSP and PS-VITA where PS3 is and will be a strong seller at least during the 2012 and 2013, PSP will sell well (over VITA) during the 2012 until xmas, and VITA will increase the sales during xmas.

Brony said,
:-|
VITA is doing it well, however the usual SONY strategy is focused in a mid-long term success. For example, right now, SONY is selling PS3, PSP and PS-VITA where PS3 is and will be a strong seller at least during the 2012 and 2013, PSP will sell well (over VITA) during the 2012 until xmas, and VITA will increase the sales during xmas.

You are missing the Wii U release.... so it will not sale..... Again.

Fayker said,
Put android on it, and will it sell ... thats 100% success.

Hahaha, only if, it is one fantastic device but just does not have the support that the original PSP did, the reason why I bought my PSP is because of homebrew and emulators which were just so fun, if the Vita could over pass that in its life span it could truly be great.

Xypro said,

Hahaha, only if, it is one fantastic device but just does not have the support that the original PSP did, the reason why I bought my PSP is because of homebrew and emulators which were just so fun, if the Vita could over pass that in its life span it could truly be great.

Well, with dual boot for Backward compability, and Android system... can you image the power ? ..oh man, Sony should wire me, hahahaha 2 in 1 .. flawless victory vs all portable xD

When I was first able to lay my hands on a Vita and playe Drake's, I loved it. The system is great, the game was obviously beautiful and I loved playing it. I couldn't (and still can't) quite nail what held me back from buying it, just something missing, but when I heard about Sony doing the Cross-game program, I say that's definately a maor step in the right direction.

I really do hope Sony can get some more support for the Vita because it really is a great system. I think I'll honestly get the 3DS XL and the Vita eventually, but while I feel the 3DS has enough games to justify the purchase for me now, I just don't feel that way about the Vita just yet

Cause it is over priced, requires expensive proprietary storage and has no unique gaming experiences that make people want to buy it.

Plus Sony is on a quick ride to bankruptcy and crashing and burning.

Sony hasn't done anything right in a LONG time.

swanlee said,
Cause it is over priced, requires expensive proprietary storage and has no unique gaming experiences that make people want to buy it.

Plus Sony is on a quick ride to bankruptcy and crashing and burning.

Sony hasn't done anything right in a LONG time.

PS3 is the current king of the hill, and PSP is still selling and a lot. In fact, PS2 is still selling. VITA is suffering a slow start.

Brony said,

PS3 is the current king of the hill, and PSP is still selling and a lot. In fact, PS2 is still selling. VITA is suffering a slow start.

Lol... It's time to wake up you know...

Honestly it probably isn't selling well because the first PSP and the GO were so awful. This new one looks the same, so without actually doing research on it, I would assume it's the same junk as before. I do agree that the name "Vita" and lack of games really put the nail in the coffin.

The 3DS sold well because the DS was a a huge success and people were excited for the new features and games.

I got it on launch. I will admit i hardly use it, but i recently been trying to finish uncharted, and its a great experience. It is just ruined by a poor O.S. You would think that for such a powerful piece of hardware, you would at least be able to see and message with people in real time.

Why couldnt they just put the PS3 os in it??

nanoware said,
I got it on launch. I will admit i hardly use it, but i recently been trying to finish uncharted, and its a great experience. It is just ruined by a poor O.S. You would think that for such a powerful piece of hardware, you would at least be able to see and message with people in real time.

Why couldnt they just put the PS3 os in it??

Unfortunatly, that was a game issue, which was patched recently, not firmware problem.

1. It's Sony's successor to the PSP, which basically bled to death without any support. The recent PSP Go and the Xperia Play were flops as well.
2. Games. There are only a few games coming out that "stand out". I say it like that because they don't really do. If Uncharted didn't sell the system, then a few third party games that have their superior console counterparts coming out at the same time, won't sell it either.
3. Price. Too expensive when you can get a home console for less with better games .
4. No internal memory and proprietary memory cards that are REQUIRED and be bought separately if you want to use the device properly.
5. It's Sony. Sony's and PlayStation's reputations have vastly deteriorated over the past decade. The brand isn't considered "cool" and state of the art anymore.
6. Flimsy rear touchpad and no real triggers make it a poor substitute for a good Xbox 360 or DualShock controller even if it has a second analog nob.
7. Battery life isn't great. Most people get 3.5-4 hours out of it which should be a lot more.

There are a few more, but these are the most important ones.

The device is selling worse than the Dreamcast right now at the same point in time after release and we all know how that went. It's on NeoGAF with charts if you want my source for that.
It's over for the Vita (how ironic, because that will mean that it will be associated with death for a long time to come). Cross Buy won't work either as the third party publishers are very hesitant in releasing another copy of their games for free just to save the Vita.
IMHO every cent you give for a Vita is a cent thrown away as it will not turn around.

The vita's biggest problem is that Sony didn't learn from the psp, or the history of the handheld market in general. They focused soley on the power of the hardware like they did with the psp, and put little focus on the software side and are paying for it once again.

You hit the hammer on the head.
Hardware wise its pretty much perfect for a portable gaming system.

Software, well lets start with the Firmware. Yeah it looks great, works great and everything else, but as you said, firmware updates are mostly just security patches. No new features are introduced. Youtube could of been part of the firmware (so you could play Flash content from the browser) but no, they decided to make it its own app.

Game wise... well there are only 2 games that stand out for me.
Uncharted and Gravity Rush. (If you havent played Gravity Rush, I HIGHLY recommend getting it - its bloody brillant!)

All the other games are to me, AA titles.

The next game coming out for Vita that I will buy is Assassins Creed Liberation. After that, who knows? GTA Vice City Nights will be on the cards for sure.

Anarkii said,
You hit the hammer on the head.
Hardware wise its pretty much perfect for a portable gaming system.

Software, well lets start with the Firmware. Yeah it looks great, works great and everything else, but as you said, firmware updates are mostly just security patches. No new features are introduced. Youtube could of been part of the firmware (so you could play Flash content from the browser) but no, they decided to make it its own app.

Game wise... well there are only 2 games that stand out for me.
Uncharted and Gravity Rush. (If you havent played Gravity Rush, I HIGHLY recommend getting it - its bloody brillant!)

All the other games are to me, AA titles.

The next game coming out for Vita that I will buy is Assassins Creed Liberation. After that, who knows? GTA Vice City Nights will be on the cards for sure.

PlayStation All Stars, AC3: Liberation, Sly 4 and Ratchet & Clank are what I'm waiting for. I need something on-par with the experience I get from my PS3. I still need to buy Gravity Rush

Hardware-wise the system is phenomenal, but I really dislike pieces of technology that have such huge, frequent but extremely pointless updates. I also felt lie the Vita was actually advertised to do much more and was sold short when it was shipped.

PlayStation, it only does nothing, eh?

It actually might be the name. VITA screams incomprehensible (what exactly does it mean anyway?), rather than professional.
But on a fundamental level, the reason I didn't get a VITA is the same reason I didn't get a PSP. I can only carry a few mobile devices on me at once. My phone already plays games, albeit simple ones, so I can only choose one other portable console for flashier distraction. Nintendo had the better ("fuller") lineup in the previous generation with the DS, so the PSP faltered. This generation, I feel more confident buying a 3DS than a VITA, if only because I really enjoyed the DS.

Some Negatives factors in the Vita

* Propitiatory Expensive Memory Card
* No PSP Compatibility (announced the passport program, then the oh, we didn't mean it would be in the united states was a slap in the face)
* Still high cost
* No deep PS3 <-> Vita integration (PSP was in the same situation, lost potential).

Jason Stillion said,
Some Negatives factors in the Vita

* Propitiatory Expensive Memory Card
* No PSP Compatibility (announced the passport program, then the oh, we didn't mean it would be in the united states was a slap in the face)
* Still high cost
* No deep PS3 <-> Vita integration (PSP was in the same situation, lost potential).

Agreed, but cross-play does partially fix Vita to Ps3 integration though .

Jason Stillion said,
Some Negatives factors in the Vita

* Propitiatory Expensive Memory Card
* No PSP Compatibility (announced the passport program, then the oh, we didn't mean it would be in the united states was a slap in the face)
* Still high cost
* No deep PS3 <-> Vita integration (PSP was in the same situation, lost potential).


Passport program was only for Japan if I recall correctly, because it also isn't in Australia.

It's all about the games - gamers will happily buy these devices if there's enough high quality or suitable games there to justify their purchase, and that offer a worthwhile experience on that system. And of course, they've got to have mass market appeal. Just being an excellent game isn't good enough if no one cares enough about the brand to actually bother taking a look at it. And they do spend a lot of time investing in games that are good, but just don't have the kind of mass market appeal they need to drive the platform forward.

And unfortunately Sony have never really properly established a good, appealing handheld brand. There's been plenty of technically excellent games - but they're missing that key trigger - they don't have a Pokémon or a likewise - a game with truly mass market appeal.

Of course saying that, I can't recall ever actually seeing an advert featuring the Vita on TV in the UK yet. Frankly even if they wanted to give a brand mass market appeal, you do have to go kind of crazy advertising it. You get the feeling that they're only half heartedly behind supporting the Vita at the moment, despite being an amazing machine.

Edited by ~Johnny, Aug 20 2012, 2:43pm :

The reason vita doesn't sell is the same reason most other portable devices don't sell anymore... if it's not on our phones we don't want it. Most people don't carry around dedicated cameras anymore for the same reason. Dedicated devices just don't work anymore.

jagowar said,
The reason vita doesn't sell is the same reason most other portable devices don't sell anymore... if it's not on our phones we don't want it. Most people don't carry around dedicated cameras anymore for the same reason. Dedicated devices just don't work anymore.

Lol @ people like this. If dedicated gaming devices are doomed to sell so poorly, then explain why the 3ds has sold nearly 20mil within its first 18 months?

I like my smartphone as much as the next guy, but people like you really need to wake up. The vita isn't failing because of smartphones being "all superior devices" as people like you claim. It's failing because of sony's own failings.

Its mainly because of the lack of games. I've got it, the device is freaking awesome in its capabilities. Little powerbox in a handheld device.
A few games are fun, I've got a bunch of PSP titles and just 2 Vita titles (minus 4 or 5 mini-games). Which is Wipeout 2048 and Dynasty Warriors Next... And Wipeout is awfull, Dynasty Warriors is great, just as fun as the old games used to be, I do love it. But after a few weeks of playing just these few games... Its getting boring and I can understand why on earth nobody really buys a thing like this.
Remote play isnt working as it should either, a huge letdown for many.

Blackhearted said,

Lol @ people like this. If dedicated gaming devices are doomed to sell so poorly, then explain why the 3ds has sold nearly 20mil within its first 18 months?

I like my smartphone as much as the next guy, but people like you really need to wake up. The vita isn't failing because of smartphones being "all superior devices" as people like you claim. It's failing because of sony's own failings.


Because the 3DS sells for nearly $100 less and is aimed at a younger audience than the Vita? The younger audience being fairly significant as they're less likely to have smartphones and tablets.

The 3DS wasn't selling well until Nintendo made a massive price cut. And jagowar didn't say smartphones and tablets are "all superior devices," he said dedicated devices aren't as necessary when you already have a device that fills the same need.

jagowar said,
The reason vita doesn't sell is the same reason most other portable devices don't sell anymore... if it's not on our phones we don't want it. Most people don't carry around dedicated cameras anymore for the same reason. Dedicated devices just don't work anymore.

You know what I don't get... for everyone who says that the iPhone & the iPad are gonna destroy consoles, than explain to me why PCs never have. Hmm???? Those can fulfill purposes other than gaming too! Yeah, consoles ain't goin' nowhere...

Anthony Tosie said,

Because the 3DS sells for nearly $100 less and is aimed at a younger audience than the Vita? The younger audience being fairly significant as they're less likely to have smartphones and tablets.

The 3DS wasn't selling well until Nintendo made a massive price cut. And jagowar didn't say smartphones and tablets are "all superior devices," he said dedicated devices aren't as necessary when you already have a device that fills the same need.

I agree with you and jagowar. There are people who will buy the dedicated hardware but for $300 why spend the money when you can play a quick game on your phone. I think the Nintendo sells because a dedicated device is still a good choice for kids. Specially kids who do not have a cell phone. For all interested buyers, why buy the Vita when there are no titles.

MASTER260 said,

You know what I don't get... for everyone who says that the iPhone & the iPad are gonna destroy consoles, than explain to me why PCs never have. Hmm???? Those can fulfill purposes other than gaming too! Yeah, consoles ain't goin' nowhere...

Well with most people, a PC is in their office or on their desk with a smaller 20" monitor, whereas their TV (with the game console) is 40"

Who would want to play on that small screen, sitting in front of it with nearly no ability to have friends over and play at the same time? Whereas with a console you could lay back on the couch and have fun.

HOWEVER, smartphones are nearly the same form factor as the Vita and other portable consoles. They're both the same size screens (Vita is admittedly bigger this time), but one has far more games (iPhone and Android) and is already probably in your pocket.

Portable consoles are great for trips though, you can't deny that. But carry it around with you every single day? Meh maybe a true dedicated game nerd would, but that's not enough people to sell it to.