Can Sony turn things around with the Vita and gain momentum leading to the PS4 release?
The PlayStation 4 hasn’t been officially announced yet, but for Sony it’s still all about setting the table for the release of the next version of this legendary console. The task must be quite daunting — the gaming industry has been sleeping on the same console systems for over seven years now and the hype has to be built up properly for people to be motivated again in buying new gaming systems. Are people ready to open their wallets again? Are they looking forward to changing their home entertainment system at all? That’s why timing, hype and momentum will be very important for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo heading into the next generation. Because of the long leap between this generation and the next one, the market is as unpredictable as ever.
And that’s where each of the three giants must make the right moves in order to convince their audience, starting with how they manage their current generation console. A fan base pleased with a company is much less likely to switch over to another camp. So how is Sony doing in the momentum department? Well, Sony’s PS3 is doing perfectly fine, with some even seeing it as the winner of this generation’s console war, but Sony newest handheld, the Vita, has been getting mostly bad press and has sold much less than expected. To compare with what the general expectations were, the gaming sales junkies over at vgchartz.com only saw about 35% of their expected numbers of Vita sales realized, which is tremendously low.
These kinds of results have to be hurting Sony’s momentum towards the unveiling and release of the PS4. They haven’t exactly been a much praised company as of late. Sony has indicated on numerous indications that they haven’t lost hope in their handheld console, but still, isn’t it the perfect time for a big announcement to turn things around for the Vita? More tragically, it seems like fans are actually blaming the company itself for the Vita’s poor results. Sony’s inaction towards the situation seems to frustrate fans even more so then the lack of game developers. How can Sony turn things around to gain back the confidence of their fans?
A price drop?
Many people expected a price drop of the Vita in order to keep it in competition with Nintendo’s cheap offerings with the DS and 3DS. The answer from Sony? Nope. The Vita will be kept at $250 against the 99$ to 199$ price range from Nintendo.
Isn’t it time that Sony adjust the price of the Vita for what it really ended up being worth as an entertainment system, considering its current game library? Is Sony really expecting customers to change their minds when they already saw the Vita on the shelves and passed up on it? What does the buyer think when comparing the prices of the Vita and DS? Is the Vita really worth 250$ right now?
A Vita price drop could indeed really give Sony some momentum and help redeem themselves in front of fans for their weird decisions around prices, memory cards and the lack of games for the system. At this point, there’s no way of changing the console internally and putting out a new version of an already unpopular product is unlikely. It seems like all there’s left to fix is the price tag in front of that shelf so that it properly reflects what the product is worth at the moment — in other words, a price adjustment that will show a bit of respect to the customers who are willing to give the Vita a shot. Dropping it to 199$ would be the bare minimum.
The importance of delivering a quality CoD multi-player experience
The game offerings for the Vita have been disappointing so far, and with the Vita version of Call of Duty looking pretty lackluster, there seems to be no savior in sight on the software side. Besides, why in the world didn’t Sony make sure that their handheld would’ve at least delivered a quality CoD experience?
It’s pretty safe to say that a great Call of Duty game alone could turn things around for the Vita. A great CoD multiplayer experience on handheld is something that Nintendo isn’t able to deliver at the moment and that’s a point to work on. It might sounds foolish to think that a single game could save an entire console, especially with a rather stale series like Call of Duty, but CoD is still more than a game at the moment: it’s a social phenomenon that motivates millions of users to connect again and again to their gaming consoles. It’s not too late for Call of Duty : Black Ops Declassified to deliver when it releases, but rest assured that this day will be a major turning point for the Vita.
Heading into the next generation with the PS4, one interesting play Sony could make is to make their two consoles truly inseparable. A perfectly executed Vita/PS4 combo which would serve the same purposes as the Wii U tablet could negate all Nintendo’s efforts in creating something unique. An update or new version might be necessary for that to happen, but transforming the Vita into a Wii U’esque controller and tablet would be really making the most out of this rocky situation. If Vita owners can’t get the games they’re looking for, at least let them know that their console will give them a true advantage once the PS4 arrives. Rewarding your customers for buying your stuff, especially your rather unsuccessful stuff, is the best way to keep them around for your next and better offering.
Sony, if you want the Vita to succeed, it should be marketed more aggressively as a complement to the PS4 — a cool device that you can carry anywhere that offers true interactivity with your main console which is, again, something your two other competitors aren’t offering. To send an even clearer message, make a Vita/PS3 bundle that is truly worth getting for the money, and we might forgive you for not dropping the price of the handheld. Make the use of a handheld device a true part of the Sony experience leading to the release of the PS4.
To sum things up, the situation around the Vita can definitely be fixed, but it looks like the answer will have to come from Sony itself. Customers and developers are both sleeping on the console and something is needed to wake them up. A flop of a gaming system would definitely look bad for Sony heading into the next console war.
What do you think Sony should do to turn things around with the Vita?
With the conclusion of the Sony conference and the official announcement of the PS4, it’s safe to say that the issues of the Vita have been partially handled, but the situation is still not ideal. The most important thing concerning the Vita that has been announced at the conference is that the portable console will now have strong remote features allowing to bring your games on the go. Moreover, you will even be able to continue the game you started on your home PS4 console. Will Sony actually deliver on those promises? Well, the PSP/PS3 compatibility was quite hyped as well at the beginning of the previous generation, but the features ended being somewhat lackluster – in other words, not something the mainstream public would think of when buying a PS3. Remember at a previous E3 when the PSP was shown capable of being used as a rear view mirror in racing games? Well, that idea seemed to blow our minds back then, but was it truly incorporated and used in day to day play? I doubt so. Therefore, we should wait and see how Sony makes the PS4 deliver on these new promises. E3 is coming! In others news, PS Vita prices have stayed relatively the same with a few bundle offers standing out as a bit more of a bang for the buck. Call of Duty Declassified has also obtained mainly negative reviews across the board so CoD fans will have to wait for a Vita game that truly meets their expectations.
Article by - Marc-André Messier
Insert Date: 09/17/2012
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