There’s no denying that the Playstation Vita is having a hard time. Sales started sluggish and have stayed that way since launch. When last gen handhelds(both the PSP and DS) are out selling the current model, that really says something. I’m no expert in sales or marketing, so take this as you will. But the Vita has some big hurdles that it needs to jump over. The Vita is a great piece of hardware and hopefully it will survive all it’s current struggles.
1. Propreitary Memory
Even the Black Friday bundle prices didn’t tempt enough people to plunge and purchase a Vita. Sony has been pushing the free games available to PSN+ members, but when $60-100 needs to spent on a memory card to have room to play them it isn’t so much of a temptation. Especially since people can check out with their free games and wait. These memory cards are overpriced and everyone knows it. It seems that any profit Sony is making on their memory cards is being lost when barely anyone is buying the Vita and games. Maybe Sony knows something we don’t but it’s perplexing why they won’t drop the prices. At this point even a patch that allows compatibility with third party memory seems better than the possible alternative. Or Sony could even offer a bigger memory card in the bundles. Just Uncharted: Golden Abyss barely fits on the 4GB card that is offered with them now.
2. Less Ports, More New Games
The Vita has a good number of new games, but the announcements of new ones have been drying out lately. The ports are nice along with the new games, but all the ports are giving a false impression to non-Vita owners that it is an overpriced port machine. Just showing off some games in development would be a help. Sony says they’ll be supporting the Vita, but it doesn’t look like that is so when looking at upcoming games. This problem could get a lot worse if not fixed somehow, even just a few announcements could bring more confidence.
3. Work Better With Indie Developers
The majority of indie developers seem to not want to work with Sony. XBLA and Steam both get a significant amount of indie support that PSN doesn’t. A somewhat recent Kickstarter even shows this for a certain game, which is planned to be offered for the 360, PC, WiiU, Android, Linux, Mac, and………Dreamcast. Many potential buyers are going to be looking for cheap and/or simple games after they spend $200 on a portable system to start off with, or to play on bus rides, etc. As of now, even many of the Minis that are available, aren’t supported for the Vita. A lot of smaller companies seem to have trouble working with Sony, and now may be the team that they should open up a bit more and not have so many restrictions.
4. Update Backwards Compatibility More Often
There are still a lot of PSP games, Minis, and PS1 Classics that still aren’t supported for the Vita after almost a year on the market. Even the most recent PS1 classiscs aren’t compatible with the Vita from the get-go. This shows that there isn’t much concern for those who download, which combats things like PSN+ and the Day1 promotion that seems to be trying to get more to buy that way. Backwards compatibility seems to be important to a lot of people. It can’t be done for physical UMDs of course, but the downloadable games really should be updated more regularly.
5. Market Something Other Than Crossplay on Television
Crossplay is nice and a great incentive for some PS3 owners but just about every commercial on TV promoting the Vita has been about crossplay. For people who don’t care about it, and don’t do their own research it may give a negative image. This ties into number 2, with the ports problem. A lot of people seem to think that there isn’t much to offer on the Vita that isn’t already on the PS3. Assassin’s Creed Liberations got quite a few TV spots lately so hopefully that is a sign of improvement.
The Playstation Vita has a lot going for it and is a great piece of hardware but needs some improvements. These are some ways that could hopefully help it become more successful. The Vita isn’t completely failing yet but if things don’t get better, that could change. There is definitely hope though, and maybe Sony will have something to show before E3 2013 because that just seems too far away.