In a recent interview with Bloomberg at the Tokyo Game Show, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Andrew House gave his insights into the handheld market, including the Nintendo Switch which itself is a hybrid device residing in both the traditional console market and that of handhelds.
Sony has released several handheld consoles in the past, comprised of the PSP, PSP Go, and Vita devices under the PlayStation brand. Even though the original PSP sold quite well after its launch in 2004, the launch of the Vita in 2011 didn't fare too well - according to data shown in the graph by Bloomberg below - with sales of its handheld consoles tapering off. Since then the company hasn't shipped any revisions of these devices yet. In 2013 Sony unveiled the PlayStation TV device which ran Vita games, however, it discontinued the device in all markets last year.
The CEO also noted this in the interview that:
“The Vita experience was that outside of Japan and Asia, there was not a huge demand. The lifestyle shift toward the dominance of smartphones as the single key device that is always with you, was the determining factor.”
With the launch of the original iPhone in 2007, it possibly didn't help, with mobile becoming one of the dominant forces in the gaming market since then. Sony itself established a mobile gaming studio named ForwardWorks last year, which, according to House, is doing 'fantastic'.
House, however, does not seem to think that the handheld market holds significant opportunities for the company to explore in the future, even with the Nintendo Switch proving quite popular. The latest hybrid device from Nintendo has seen significant sales after its launch in March earlier this year, with over 4.7 million consoles sold worldwide up to July, but in his own analysis of the situation, the CEO said:
“The Nintendo device is a hybrid device and that’s a different approach and strategy. We have not seen that as being a huge market opportunity,”
In addition, the Sony Executive suggested that Sony does not have any plans to take on the hybrid console yet:
“That draws me to the conclusion that they’ve really been additive to the business in the last year or so. The folks at Nintendo have their strategy and that’s great. We remain focused around a highly connected gaming experience and also coupled with having a great range of other entertainment experiences so you can reach multiple people on the big screen in the household.”
House does not seem to be the only one waiting to see if the Switch has staying power. Tsunekazu Ishiharu, head of Pokemon Co. noted that the console still had to prove itself in an earlier interview with Bloomberg.
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