PlayStation Vita launched back in 2012 and worldwide sales have been lackluster over its two year lifespan. The competition, the 3DS, faced the same problem when the system debuted back in 2011. However, shortly after Vita’s premiere, the 3DS blasted off and sold well in both Japan and North America.
April 2014 sees Sony’s second handheld balling in Japan at the moment, though the 3DS has two units, 3DS XL and 3DS, in the top 10 chart. Add the Nintendo original and revision together and the Nintendo 3DS is still opening up a can of whoop ass on Vita.
Nintendo is well established in this handheld war, due to its hardware being the cheaper option, as well as hosting more blockbuster titles such as Resident Evil Revelations and Mario Kart 7. However, the only dedicated HD gaming device on the market is not far away from catching it up and potentially passing its rival. Sony’s Vita simply needs five adjustments to compete with Nintendo’s juggernaut.
The first thing that needs to change is support from Sony outside of Japan. Currently, Japanese gamers have the option of buying Vita in lots of different colors, from brown to lime green. People from the Island Of The Sun also have access to niche games that do not always make their way to Europe or North America (NA). Sony also needs to blow up gaming events like E3 and the Tokyo Game Show showcasing their handheld: present lots of new IPs and innovative titles and announce creative game/memory card/accessory bundles; and absolutely give NA and Europe more color options – black only is getting old.
In order to fight fire you need fire; Vita needs a ton of games just like the PS3 has and the PS4 will have. Even though less powerful and advanced, its 3D enemy has more system seller exclusives than digits on our hands. The irony is that these AAA titles aren’t necessarily innovative or new IPs, they’re just excellent products. This proves that Sony’s newest handheld doesn’t always need new concepts, but just quality results.
The third item that needs to be addressed is memory. Instead of giving PlayStation “Life” internal memory for storage, Sony created memory cards in sizes such as 4 GB, 8 GB, 16GB, etc. There are three major problems with this: inconvenience, price, sizes. The PS4, Xbox One, and even its opponent the 3DS have internal memory in which you can download and install to one’s hearts content. In order to save progress and files on the handheld, you have to purchase a memory card, which is expensive with the 32 GB memory card costing around $100 each. 32 GB may seem like a lot of room, but PlayStation Plus members would beg to differ. In order to solve this problem, the simple solution is to add more internal memory, more than the 1GB in Vita slim. Sony needs to do this more than kittens need a bath, even if it causes the price to go up.
One noticeable problem is advertising and promotion. Gamers watch T.V. channels such as ESPN, HBO, and MTV and it is surprising there are no Vita commercials or very few are shown while Xbox One and PS4 ads are so common. They also view videos on youtube but no sign of the gaming system there either. At E3, Sony makes announcements such as a Vita Slim and that there will be more games for it, but where are they? Other than the indie titles, where are the system sellers? Sony should preview the bigger projects, not just indie work. If Sony would take the time and properly display the machine’s assets it would sell better.
Finally, something controversial but beneficial needs to happen: Vita exclusives need to STAY only on Vita. It was common for PSP games to be ported to the PS3 like God of War: Ghost of Sparta and the same scenario has happened to Sony’s Vita: Assassin’s Creed III Liberation. The problem with this is it defeats the purpose of buying a PlayStation Vita and lessens the number of Vita-only games compared to 3DS-only games. Also, Sony needs more first party developers to work on Vita, such as Santa Monica, Naughty Dog, and Sucker Punch.
Some of the things listed may not happen and some of them may be an unrealistic fantasy . . . or maybe not. One thing is for certain, if Sony keeps bringing interesting games to Vita, the gap between the two handhelds will shrink. Will it ever disappear? For that to happen, Vita would have to dominate in countries outside of Japan. What happens if the Vita ever catches and surpasses the 3DS? It would be a UConn-over-Florida type of upset, a number one seed being beat by a eighth ranked seed, because Nintendo has ruled handheld gaming for so long and with an iron fist. However, in the end, the Vita STILL has the potential to be one of the greatest gaming devices of all time. It’s up to Sony to capitalize on that potential.