E3 2014: Sony's Last Chance to Turn the Vita Into a Success
Before I begin, a disclaimer:
I love my Vita. I've loved it from the moment it I got it. It's one slick little unit and its potential is absolutely through the roof. I honestly hope the system will survive and even flourish, because it's far too nice of a device to fail.
Of course, as the majority of people these days only read headlines, that disclaimer will be missed. But that can't be helped.
The point is simple: We haven't heard an updated official sales number for the PlayStation Vita in a long time and as everyone knows, it's not selling well. Perhaps even more telling is that Vita numbers have been notably absent from any Sony sales updates over the past year or so.
This spells trouble.
Yes, I know the PSP started out slowly
I remember well when everyone was calling the PSP a "failure" and Nintendo was running away with the handheld market. Nintendo still ran away with the market but after moving over 80 million units, the PSP was hardly a failure. However, the differences should be obvious:
Perhaps the most important difference is that the PSP didn't have to deal with the mobile explosion, which is undoubtedly hurting the Vita. How many devices are people expected to take with them when they leave the house? Their smartphone can play games, too, and while those games aren't a patch on Vita software or system capability, it's also a phone and an accepted multimedia device. Sony even admitted that they underestimated the impact of this market on Vita sales.
Furthermore, the PSP carved out a niche for itself. It had a lot of games you couldn't find anywhere else, especially if you were a fan of JRPGs. I mean, Monster Hunter almost single-handedly rocketed the PSP to success in Japan, and allowed it to compete favorably with the DS every now and then. The bottom line is that the PSP had plenty of unique - and worthwhile - experiences.
Thus far, the Vita doesn't have anywhere near enough exclusive titles. We've seen very few since the launch, and it can't survive on games that are also available on the PS3 and PS4. Consumers need specific reasons to own yet another portable unit.
Software is all that matters
Sony marketed the Vita to hardcore gamers and as such, they should know their intended audiences only cares about one thing: Games. You're not going after the mainstream consumer who just loves gadgets. That's not your crowd because you made it plain from the start: The Vita is for gamers. It's the elite portable gaming device for avid gamers. Okay, if that's the case, where the hell are the games?!
Forget about price and any and all Vita features like Remote Play. The only thing that will impress the intended demographic is elite exclusive software they can't play anywhere else. Most people really don't care that they can continue to play a game on the Vita after leaving the PS4 in the living room. Most times, when we're leaving, we don't have the time, the means (maybe we're driving), or the inclination to keep playing while on the go.
We want games. And at E3 this year, the Vita absolutely cannot be ignored. If it is, if it barely registers during Sony's press conference, I'm afraid the Vita won't last another year. They need to get current owners and - above all else - prospective owners interested in the Vita. With the core gaming crowd, there's only one way to do that...do I have to repeat myself? Games.
Show 'em off at E3, Sony, or I will assume the Vita is on life support.