A few days ago, Sony made big news in Japan by slashing the prices of the 3G and Wi-Fi models of the Vita. With Sony’s big meeting in New York only days later it was a no brainer to assume that the Vita would also get a price cut in the states. Last night Shuhei Yoshida, Sony Worldwide Studios president, quickly killed that assumption.
Yoshida stated that when compared to other countries the Japanese gamers were paying the most for the handheld due to the exchange rate. This may be the truth but it does nothing to win over American gamers who feel the $250 Wi-Fi PS Vita tag is already too high.
Sony’s problem isn’t with the price. Most iPhone or Mac users feel Apple products are too expensive, but will stand in line day one for whatever new product is hitting the stores. The problem is the product and the message.
The handheld itself is a great device. It has a beautiful screen, responsive controls and is durable but when it comes to games, the PS Vita is severely lacking. A year after it’s release the majority of upcoming games are “To Be Announced” or set so far in the future it doesn’t make sense to dish out the money now. After a year there still isn’t a must-have title or even a decent FPS (though some gamers mention Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath as the lone wolf holding down the fort). In a world where people have purchased XBox 360’s and PS3’s for Halo or Call Of Duty alone, to not have a must-have FPS on a handheld with dual analog sticks is a missed opportunity.
Getting people to buy a PS Vita seems to be the problem since owners of the handheld seem to love the device (just not the lack of games). Educating gamers about what the device does have at its disposal should be mission number 1 for Sony, but when they have millions of people around the world watching them, they reduce the PS Vita to nothing more than a $250 PlayStation 4 controller.
I know the event was held to announce the PS4, but when you watch an Apple keynote for the new iPhone, Apple CEO’s Steve Jobs and Tim Cook will still talk about the iPods and iPads. They take advantage of the world watching them to sell their other products which is something Sony dropped the ball on last night. PS Vita has the opportunity to be a major player in the gaming world but the way it was mentioned in passing gave me the impression that they gave up on making it compete with the 3DS and are using the Vita to compete with the Wii-U’s tablet controller.
Last night Sony demonstrated they know how to build excitement for a product. They also shown they know the focus for gamers is games. Unfortunately they haven’t demonstrated either when it comes to the PS Vita.