The game industry is in a hubbub about the impending announcement of Sony’s next PlayStation, and expectations are that Sony will announce the new console at a New York press event on Feb. 20. Many of the studios that have worked with Sony on signature PlayStation 3 games are starting to tease their PlayStation 4 games. Maybe it will be called Orbis, maybe it will block used games, maybe it will have some kind of snazzy new controller; most everything about the machine is unknown. What is known is this: Sony already has a relatively new game console on store shelves and it is floundering. If Sony doesn’t change something soon, the PlayStation Vita will die an early death. Its first year on shelves has resulted in dire sales numbers. Perhaps a new PS Vita model, rumored to be included in the Feb. 20 presentation, can change the device’s fate.
The rumored new PS Vita model will not address the biggest complaint leveled against the device: High price. The new Vita will be able to connect to 4G LTE wireless networks and cost $299, just like the existing 3G model supported by AT&T in the US. The Wi-Fi-only model of Vita will remain on the market for $250. The 4G functionality won’t be a major selling point for the console anymore than the 3G has, as only a handful of games like Street Fighter X Tekken are playable over the network. Based on a patent published on Thursday (via NeoGAF), the new model may allow TV output from the Vita via an HDMI cable port. It may also ship alongside an overhauled firmware for the console, offering new organizational tools.
The new model may not earn benefit current PS Vita owners, but changes to the Vita business plan may. The biggest of which is that Sony will reduce the price of the PS Vita’s unique memory cards. The astronomically high price of memory cards—a 32GB card is a whopping $100, where the exact same SD card, just minus the proprietary locks sells for as low as $25 or less—demonstrates the real cost of a Vita, since many games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss require a memory card for play.
Reducing the price of memory cards may not be enough for Sony to resuscitate the PS Vita. Anything short of a drastic price cut on the console will struggle to enhance its audience.