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Sometimes the technology used in a product is so advanced that even its rivals cannot help but be impressed. While in Paris promoting a 3DS-powered visitor’s guide for the Louvre, Nintendo superstar Shigeru Miyamoto could not help but express his praise for the Sony PlayStation Vita’s technological capabilities. Of course, the legendary game designer found another way to criticize the machine.
Miyamoto says he finds the handheld’s software lineup ultimately unsatisfying. “[The Vita is] obviously a very hi-spec machine, and you can do lots of things with it,” he said. “But I don’t really see the combination of software and hardware that really makes a very strong product.”
The Vita was released in Japan last December in Japan and late February for the US, UK and Australia. Despite selling 325,000 units after its release date in Japan and 600,000 in other regions, sales of the handheld have slumped. In Europe both the Wii and PlayStation Portable—the handheld the Vita was supposed to replace—outsell Sony’s new console. Sales in the United States are more positive. There only the PlayStation3, Xbox 360 and 3DS outsell it, with the Vita slowly catching up to the 3DS in weekly sales.
In Japan, though, the 3DS is trouncing the Vita, outselling it 10:1. This is in spite of a slow start for the Nintendo handheld, which only picked up after a price drop for the 3DS. Miyamoto blames the poor initial sales on a lack of games available at launch.
“When we launched the 3DS hardware we didn’t have Super Mario 3D Land, we didn’t have Mario Kart 7, we didn’t have Kid Icarus: Uprising,” he said. “We were striving to have all of these ready for the launch, but we weren’t able to deliver them at that time. We were kind of hoping that people would, nevertheless, buy into the product, find 3DS hardware promising, but looking back we have to say we realise the key software was missing when we launched the hardware.”
The solution to Sony’s problems, then, is more games with maybe a price drop, and few Vita owners would disagree. Despite a collection of launch title representing a wide range of genres, the trickle of games released has slowly dried up. Gravity Rush is the next big game due for release in the United States and Europe, coming out in mid-June.
So will more games solve the Vita’s problems? At this point Sony may need to more than just that and to drop the Vita’s pricey retail value of $249, in order to see significant changes in sales. It worked for the 3DS, so a change in price may make the Vita victorious.
Image Courtesy of Ricardo “Eb” Trejo