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Vita struggled due to smart phones, Sony VP admits

Sony UK managing director Fergal Gara says that PlayStation Vita launched into a different marketplace than existed when the system was being designed.

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Vita is a wonderful handheld. However, it hasn't exactly taken over the sales charts. PlayStation UK managing director Fergal Gara recently explained why he thinks the system has been under-performing. The answer all goes back to smart devices, and how the company was unprepared at how different the market had become by the time the system launched.

"In all honesty, higher sales would have been what we had hoped for," Gara told VG247. "The market Vita entered was more complicated than it was when the console was originally thought about and designed. Games on tablets and phones have changed the marketplace and people can't carry too many things around at one time.

"The truth is that the number of people that want the core experience [that Vita offers] is not as big as the number that simply want any sort of game available on the move and, because the likes of a tablet and smart phone are so multifunctional in their use, they will always be very appealing. Really, I think the reason it hasn't sold more is that it comes down to people thinking: ‘Do I need it as well as these other things that are taking my money?'"

CEO Kaz Hirai to admitted Vita was on the "low end" as of this time last year. It subsequently received a price drop and a cost-cutting redesign. Recent efforts from Sony have also bolstered its features, like PS4 Remote Play and PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection.

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  • reply
    January 13, 2014 12:30 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Vita struggled due to smart phones, Sony VP admits.

    Sony UK managing director Fergal Gara says that PlayStation Vita launched into a different marketplace than existed when the system was being designed.

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      January 13, 2014 12:31 PM

      [deleted]

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        January 13, 2014 12:32 PM

        [deleted]

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        January 13, 2014 4:39 PM

        It took its time time cycle up

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          January 13, 2014 4:53 PM

          Took it's time? What are you talking about, the 3DS outsold the DS from the start. It's outpaced the DS in year one and two sales, it didn't take it's time at all it was a hit from day one.

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            January 13, 2014 4:57 PM

            What?

            Do you not remember the whole Ambassador debacle?

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            January 13, 2014 4:59 PM

            that's an interesting view of history. I suppose they cut the price ~30% only 6 months after launch incurring a per unit loss because it was selling at historically great levels like you say.

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              January 13, 2014 6:38 PM

              Regardless of the price cut it still outsold the DS at launch. Then after continued to outsell the DS moving forward.

              The point is it never didn't outsell it's predecessor. So saying it took it's time? To what sell, no it sold from day one better then any handheld has.

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                January 13, 2014 6:47 PM

                clearly Nintendo didn't feel like simply outselling its predecessor was cause for celebration like you do, in fact despite that comparison it was closer to cause for panic with how sales were trending and Nintendo's reaction affirms that. The world today is not the same as when the DS launched in 2004. There're completely different sized addressable markets and completely different competitive landscapes.

                Yes the 3DS took its time. It experienced a significant downward trend in sales early in life prompting an unprecedented price cut for a Nintendo system. Just because the DS sold worse than that nearly 10 years prior doesn't make it a raging success out of the game, that's a highly overly simplistic comparison of the market and products involved.

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                  January 13, 2014 6:49 PM

                  It's not simplistic it's just the truth it sold incredible from the start. Then slowed til the first holiday 8 months later, then sold gangbusters again. There's nothing about taking time in that.

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                    January 13, 2014 6:52 PM

                    Also the world today is different... Soooo why is the vita so far behind the psp then?

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                      January 13, 2014 7:25 PM

                      I don't know why I'm arguing with you if you think this is actually a relevant counterargument, it's a completely different product with completely different strengths and weaknesses affecting its sales trajectory. It's completely unrelated to how the 3DS sold.

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                        January 14, 2014 4:53 AM

                        Yeah it does make a good counter, because you say it's a different world now. So of course the 3DS is out selling the DS, bigger market right. Ok, then why is the vita trailing the psp by a lot. The markets bigger according to you so that shouldn't happen.

                        Your speaking out of both sides of your mouth. You can't have it both ways.

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            January 14, 2014 1:02 AM

            You have to take into account the holiday season as the two handhelds were not launched at the same time of the year. In its 3 year so far, the 3DS sold nearly 10M less than the DS as the DS was in the middle of the DS lite craze.
            The 3DS is expected to sell much less than the DS in the long term.

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              January 14, 2014 4:58 AM

              Ummm no both launched in march of their launch years. Same launch date different years though.

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                January 14, 2014 6:53 AM

                November 21, 2004 in the US and December 2, 2004 in Japan.

                The DS sold 3M in 2004, 11M in 2005, 21M in 2006, 29M in 2007
                The 3D sold 13M in 2011, 14.5 in 2012, 14.7 (VG chartz number so maybe 10-15% off) in 2013 despite Pokemon and lots of other games.

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      January 13, 2014 12:40 PM

      All it needed was some decent games

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      January 13, 2014 12:47 PM

      I can't believe they're surprised. The PSP wasn't doing well at all, and they released a new system without much software to back it up. What did they think would happen?

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      January 13, 2014 12:50 PM

      And yet the 3DS is thriving. For me, the bottom line is the Vita is just a higher-resolution handheld. It straddles the middle ground between PS2 and 3, as the PSP straddled the PS1 and 2. That's it, really. Nothing special. No "you have GOT to own a Vita to play this game" experiences.

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        January 13, 2014 12:55 PM

        3ds struggled big time in its entry years. Both systems are at a significant rebound now. 3ds moreso but the PSVita is doing a lot better than I thought it would

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        January 13, 2014 12:56 PM

        Pretty much it. When the 3DS and Vita were announced everyone focus on the hardware but once the 3DS starting pulling together a string of must have games, the sales picked up accordingly. I really like the Vita as a system and I really want it to succeed but it needs to focus more on games unique to itself rather than poor ports of last gen console games. Tearaway was a great start, but it needs more like it.

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          January 13, 2014 1:03 PM

          That's the problem there are almost no exclusive games, and there won't be. The vita if dead 2 years in its sold 6 million even the psp had sold 15 million by this point. It needs games that aren't coming.

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        January 13, 2014 4:14 PM

        because the 3DS costs like half as much and has a better brand behind it. You can justify a $130-150 Mario device alongside a phone or tablet. It's a lot harder to justify a $300+ one for some PS2/PS3 pseudo ports. The 3DS wasn't exactly thriving at $250 like Sony's handhelds insist on being.

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        January 13, 2014 4:58 PM

        Tearaway says you are wrong

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          January 13, 2014 8:43 PM

          Tearaway flopped commercially.

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            January 13, 2014 11:56 PM

            Which immediately makes it not a must play game?

            The Vita is failing because Sony don't know how to market it, not because it's a bad system without good games. It's even obvious seeing the comments in here that 90% of people that don't own a Vita aren't even aware of what's actually available on it at this point.

            Even Tearaway, a game I would say is a must play game for anyone that actually enjoys videogames, doesn't have any marketing push behind it. That game should have been fucking EVERYWHERE to drum up sales, because it would have worked

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              January 14, 2014 8:07 AM

              I'm not saying it's not a must-play game. I'm saying it isn't driving Vita sales. No indie game drives console sales. Hard facts. Truth bomb. Etc.

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                January 14, 2014 8:08 AM

                Oops, forgot Sony had acquired Media Molecule. But my point still stands. Everything I've heard indicates Tearaway is excellent, but it's not enough to drive console sales.

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                  January 14, 2014 12:42 PM

                  Eh I disagree. It's a game that would drive sales if Sony's marketing department did their job. Same with Killzone and Uncharted actually.

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      January 13, 2014 1:20 PM

      The existence of other mobile devices has nothing to do with why I've never bought a Vita. The memory cards are way too expensive (even after the price cut) for a system that's so heavily geared toward digital downloads. It's that cut and dried for me. When storage devices are more in line with the market standard I'll be a Vita owner. It's that easy.

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        January 13, 2014 1:26 PM

        that and they are impossible to find. you cant buy a 32gig without importing it

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          January 13, 2014 1:28 PM

          I think that's likely because it was on sale recently and people bought them all.

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            January 13, 2014 1:43 PM

            Sony needs to stop trying to force everyone to buy their shitty, overpriced proprietary memory sticks in their handhelds. :P

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              January 14, 2014 3:30 AM

              I agree. It kept me from buying the Vita for a long time, but the draw of PS+ and P4G finally won me over last year.

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            January 13, 2014 11:43 PM

            No this was the case for me in early 2012 when I impulsively got my Vita for deployment and had to settle for an 8 GB card which was $40.

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          January 13, 2014 3:17 PM

          They're all over the place here. I have a Vita but only with the 4gb card because it came with my Walking Dead bundle. $80 for a 32gb SD card is outrageous. When they were "on sale" for like $60, that was still outrageous.

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        January 13, 2014 2:59 PM

        Yeah I don't know when this started, but the trend of fucking people over on storage has got to stop. Hard drives and memory cards aren't that expensive to make.

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          January 14, 2014 12:30 AM

          shhh don't tell apple !

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        January 13, 2014 3:50 PM

        I know thats why I didnt. Too bad, the hardware seemed nice.

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        January 13, 2014 3:56 PM

        The memory card thing is what did it for me. I eventually got a refurb one, but only because Amazon stocked the 16GB cards for $20.

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          January 13, 2014 11:37 PM

          That is still much more than a new card should cost.

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            January 14, 2014 5:40 AM

            It is, but I can't outrage over $20. The $80 they wanted for a 32GB card was insane.

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        January 13, 2014 4:55 PM

        Yeah I got one at the Gearbox Christmas party. That it is basically useless out of the box is a huge WTF. Had to wait until I got my memory card from Amazon before I could use it. How do you expect to compete with smartphones like that.

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        January 13, 2014 7:27 PM

        Their propietary storage as a cash grab sure didn't help the system, that's for certain.

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        January 13, 2014 11:34 PM

        Same here. Even after lowering the price of the Vita and memory cards I cannot get over paying 4 times the market price for a reportedly very slow memory card.

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      January 13, 2014 2:55 PM

      I didn't buy a vita, but for some reason his excuse really pisses me off. Really, cell phones? Even your excuse is fucking lazy.

      "Do I need this as well as these other things that are taking my money?"

      The attitude you need to take is that you need a product that makes your competitors worry about that, not you. Make a good product and support with games and people will buy it.

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        January 13, 2014 11:35 PM

        ... and don't make it 2x the price of your nearest competitor.

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      January 13, 2014 5:12 PM

      I had a PSP2000 it was cool. At the time all I remember thinking was dual sticks would make it amazing. Did they do that with the next version? Noooooooooooo

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        January 13, 2014 8:42 PM

        the vita has dual sticks, but they feel terrible

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      January 13, 2014 6:54 PM

      [deleted]

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        January 13, 2014 7:05 PM

        [deleted]

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          January 13, 2014 8:27 PM

          I have yet to find any game on smart phones (aside from rereleases of console rpg's, etc) as compelling as games for dedicated handhelds.

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            January 13, 2014 8:36 PM

            They don't have to be as good to cannibalize sales. They just have to be good enough that people aren't willing to pay a lot of money and carry another thing around.

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            January 13, 2014 8:51 PM

            [deleted]

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              January 13, 2014 11:50 PM

              $10+ games on phones already have a hard time justifying the price to a wide audience. And even then, I'm sure people would rather sink that money on the version that exists on a hand held since it has the better controls or whatever. I think the most I've seen a mobile game sell for and do ok was $6. Otherwise most people are only willing to pay $3-4 for a game on their phones if it's a premium game, otherwise $0-2 is the best price.

              Now this has made a lot of mobile games embrace F2P because a few quarters here and there is easier to swallow and it captures parts of the demand who are willing to pay many, many times over. It then promotes game mechanics that incentivizes F2P like game currency, add-ons, etc.

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              January 14, 2014 1:11 AM

              Most high end smartphone are at least on par with the Vita (built on 3yo technology) but without proper controls and games they are useless for gaming.

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      January 13, 2014 7:11 PM

      Sony's approach to the VIta didn't seem a whole lot different than what they did with the PSP. When the Vita launched I said this is going to be the PSP, round 2.

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      January 13, 2014 8:25 PM

      He's so wrong. I wonder if he realizes how wrong he is.

      Lacking game library, system size, expensive proprietary storage are all going to kill you when there's a competing handheld that doesn't suffer from any of those problems.

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        January 14, 2014 12:00 AM

        The weird thing is that it no longer suffers from any of these issues, and yet Sony haven't actually gone for a marketing push.

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      January 13, 2014 11:57 PM

      It's a poor excuse for absolutely rat shit marketing.

      Sony have no fucking idea how to market the Vita, which is strange because even a tv commercial would help...

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      January 14, 2014 2:02 AM

      It's a wonderful handheld that has two great games, Little Big Planet Vita and Tearaway.

      But still, two game are not enough for me to buy the console. Though, if I lived in Japan permanently, I could've still gotten it last summer for 5000 yen when one electronics shop was selling it for that price for one day.

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        January 14, 2014 2:10 AM

        There are actually a few case points why Vita is a failure.

        1) No games (Just LBP Vita and Tearaway like I wrote in my previous message)

        2) Horrible proprietary memory cards which are way too overpriced

        3) Too expensive handheld console, also now that the price is finally lower, it stil doesn't have games so case 2)

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          January 14, 2014 2:22 AM

          Sorry, last part of course should be "still doesn't have games so case 1)

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          January 14, 2014 2:49 AM

          4) No crossbuy for PC indie games.

          Well for me at least.

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          January 14, 2014 3:42 AM

          I don't get the "no games" argument. I have more games on my Vita than I have times to play, and all the games I played so far were great. Or is it a troll post, as you listed just 2 games. Stop being silly.

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            January 14, 2014 4:59 AM

            It's just another case of someone that doesn't own a vita having absolutely no idea about what is actually available on it.

            The thing also went through a significant price reduction, and the cost of the memory cards has dropped massively in the 2 years the device has been out.

            The gaming community honestly has no fucking clue about what stage the Vita is at.

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          January 14, 2014 4:56 AM

          Yep, the Vita literally has no games other than the two you mentioned. None at all, yep sure okay cool derp.

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      January 14, 2014 6:15 AM

      I won't buy one because I remember how my hands cramped playing a PSP. Vita isn't much better.

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      January 14, 2014 10:06 AM

      It's ok it's real value is remote play. No big deal. Don't care if they ever release another Vita game for it.

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