The headline in a leading UK tech site screamed Sony Vita set to fail, while in the USA Reuters is already claiming that the new Sony handheld gaming device is struggling to attract consumers days out from it’s offical launch outside of Japan.
Now being launched in Australia the Playstation portable device has had several problems apart from slow sales since being launched in Japan, buggy software and criticism from users are all par for course as consumers move to smartphones and tablets for portable gaming as opposed to a proprietary device.
Despite having a quad-core processor and quad-core graphics chip technology that is now appearing in tablets and smartphones, the device is set to go head to head with the popular iPhone 4S and Nintendo 3DS.
The design and function keys are similar to the former PSP handheld device which failed to attract consumer interest when compared with the Nintendo DS.
Trusted Reviews said that the PSP had a single analogue stick, making it somewhat poorly suited to the reams of console action ports released for the platform. The Vita has dual analogue sticks, plus touch surfaces on both its front and back.
The problem for the struggling Sony is that Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch have revolutionised mobile gaming in the past four years.
Time magazine wrote in an editorial following the former Apple CEO’s death, Steve Jobs was “not a gamer, but a game-changer”.
Trusted Reviews went on to say that the Vita slots into the PSN framework online, and the proprietary cards it uses at retail already feel archaic – and act as a huge financial barrier for smaller publishers looking to produce a retail game. There’s nothing dynamic about the Vita’s approach to games delivery, and when so many early Vita owners are likely to own a smartphone, this is problem. For example, Popcap’s Plants Vs Zombies for Vita costs $14.99 in the US. On iPhone it is $2.99.
The Vita online offering – where lower cost games live – is therefore unlikely to be all that compelling. Just like the 3DS and PSP. Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton counters suggestions of competition with these more fluid gaming cultures, saying “if you’re a gamer, you’re never going to confuse a smartphone or a tablet with a gaming device” in an interview with Canadian website Macleans.
However, hundreds of thousands of sales of relatively hard-core games like Grand Theft Auto III on iOS – while not flattening his words entirely – suggest a desire to break down such barriers.
This device is not going to be a screaming success, nor is it going to ignite sales, it’s just another me too Sony product that slots into a space where there may be some sales. My bet is on a new generation of duel core and quad core smartphones and tablets followed by later this year duel core and quad core Smart TV’s to attract consumers in the gaming market.