Lyle Hall and Matthew Seymour from Heavy Iron Studios recently expressed concerns over the upcoming launch of Sony’s PlayStation Vita, specifically mentioning that the device will have a hard time at retail due to competition from smartphones and the Vita’s high price point.
Hall stated, “If people aren’t willing to pay $249 for a Nintendo 3DS why would they pay $299 for Vita? People don’t want to carry more than one thing in their pocket, that’s why Android and iPhone have done so well, they are the devices of choice, they offers multiple functions outside of gaming… People don’t want it. That’s Nintendo huge challenge – how do they add value to that?”
Seymour, formerly with 2K Games and Microsoft Games Studios, was even more direct adding, “With all due respects to Sony and Vita, it’s a car wreck. And how about Xperia Play? I’d love to pull up the numbers on that.”
I think there is still a market for a dedicated handheld, but there is no doubt that the market is now much smaller than it used to be. Additionally, the Vita seems to be making some of the same mistakes that hurt the PSP. Specifically it is being marketed as a handheld that will deliver “console” like games on the go. I don’t believe that is what the majority of people have ever looked for from handheld gaming, especially now with the huge success of smaller smartphone games.
Aside from problems with Sony’s target market for the PS Vita, Hall has pretty much hit the nail on the head. The Vita’s price is too high and unlike Nintendo, Sony doesn’t have years of profits to fall back on to drop the price much further.