PS Vita set for launch on Wednesday — but will it sell?

sony playstation vita video reviewFor those itching to get their hands on Sony’s new handheld gaming system, the PlayStation Vita, the wait is almost over. The device launches in North America and Europe on Wednesday.

The machine, which is already out in Japan, features a 5-inch (12.7cm) OLED touchscreen and a quad-core graphics processing unit. The back of it is also touch sensitive. It incorporates both Wi-Fi and 3G functionality, has front and rear cameras, can play music and video, and has a web browser too.

In his recent review, DT’s Ryan Fleming described Sony’s new offering as being “clearly the most technically superior gaming device that you can throw in your pocket.”

By all accounts, it’s a neat package, and will sell in the US for $250 (Wi-Fi only) and $300 (Wi-Fi and 3G). In the UK, gamers will be able to pick up the device for £229 (Wi-Fi only) and £279 (Wi-Fi and 3G).


There’s little doubt that the PS Vita faces some big challenges. For a start, it doesn’t come cheap. Here, we can make a comparison with Nintendo and its 3DS machine — when the Kyoto-based company launched that handheld gaming device last year for $250, sales were initially good but quickly fell away, forcing the Japanese company to slash its price to  $170 in an attempt to boost sales and keep developers on board. It seems to have done the trick, with the company this week announcing that in Japan the 3DS has reached five million sales faster than any of its other devices.

Sony’s PS Vita also sold well upon launch in Japan in December last year, but in a matter of days sales plummeted by some 80 percent. No price cut has been forthcoming and such a move still looks unlikely.

Price cut ‘not on our radar screens’

In a recent interview with BBC Click, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Jim Ryan, commented on the prospect of a price cut. “It’s not on our radar screens at all at the moment,” he said. “We have our launch plans in place. We’re in the middle of a very vibrant pre-order campaign. The demand that we see coming through in our part of the world is strong and a price cut, to be honest, is the last thing on our minds right now.” The question is whether that demand will fall away soon after launch, as it did in Japan. Then Sony may be forced to take action.

Ryan claimed that Sony is happy with sales of the Vita so far, and that anyway the company is focused on looking at things in the long term. “We’ve just announced sales of 500,000 units in Japan after what is really a short period of time and that’s a figure we’re extremely comfortable with,” he said, adding, “We measure the life of our platforms in units of years and typically we look to thrive and prosper over a ten-year cycle.”

Smartphones and tablets

Analysts have also pointed towards the proliferation of smartphones and tablets as being a challenge for the likes of Sony and Nintendo, with these more versatile devices having access to app stores containing hundreds of thousands of cheap, or free, games.

A study last November by mobile analytics firm Flurry found that iOS and Android had tripled its market share over the previous three years, and in 2011 both platforms ended Sony and Nintendo’s combined mobile gaming market dominance.

If you have a smartphone, do you really want to have a Vita or Nintendo 3DS too? If you’re a serious gamer, quite possibly. But are there enough serious gamers out there to keep the Vita selling week after week?

Jim Ryan recognizes that his company needs to pull in more casual gamers for the Vita to truly succeed. “We will quite subtly but very deliberately and quite steadily broaden the demographic, go younger, bring in the more casual consumer, and hopefully also the female consumer, and really grow that potential target that’s available to us,” he told BBC Click.

No doubt this week the Vita will sell well, but Sony will be waiting and wondering how things go from next week and beyond. If, as in Japan, a slump occurs, the currently off-the-radar price cut may well move into view.

Smart Home

Cops go after porch pirates with dummy Amazon boxes and GPS trackers

Amazon is helping police in Jersey City to catch thieves who steal delivered packages from outside people's homes. Within just minutes of the operation's launch this week, cops nabbed their first porch pirate.

Firefox 64 helps keep your numerous tabs under control

Mozilla officially launched Firefox 64 by placing new features into the laps of its users including new tab management abilities, intelligent suggestions, and a task manager for keeping Firefox's power consumption under control.

Supermicro investigation: no spy chips found on our motherboards

Supermicro announced the results of an investigation into the controversy surrounding its motherboards. The investigation was launched in response to reports that alleged the motherboards were compromised with malicious hardware.

Play ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ the best way with a Switch GameCube controller

If you're a longtime Super Smash Bros. player, then you know there's only one true way to play. Alongside the recent launch of the new 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,' Nintendo has brought back the iconic GameCube controller.

Trash at 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Use this guide to train up and get good

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest game in the entire series, and it can be overwhelming for newcomers not used to the universe-colliding fighting game. Here's what you need to know when you're starting.

Where we droppin’ (presents)? Perfect ‘Fortnite’ gifts for the fans in your life

Chances are someone on your holiday shopping list is a fan of Fortnite. As the most popular game on the planet, there are plenty of Fortnite-themed gift options available for purchase in stores and online. Here are the best ones we found.

Sega Genesis classics now playable on Amazon Fire TV, no retro console required

Sega released the SEGA Classics app for Amazon Fire TV devices, allowing gamers to play Sega Genesis classics without having to buy a retro console. The $15 app contains 25 games, including three remastered Sonic titles.

Have a spooky dance party at an abandoned mansion with Fortnite's new challenges

The Fortnite season 7, week 2 challenges have arrived in Battle Royale. From searching for chests to dancing off at an abandoned mansion, here's how to do them and the rewards you get for completing them.

The Super NES Classic is the perfect holiday gift for Nintendo lovers

Whether you're a long-time Nintendo fan looking to relive the 16-bit glory days or just doing some holiday shopping, the SNES Classic -- now in stock at multiple retailers for $80 -- might just be the perfect Christmas gift for gamers of…

Turn your Raspberry Pi into a Steam streaming hub with Valve’s Steam Link app

Valve's Steam Link app is now fully supported by Raspberry PI hardware, meaning that just about anyone with a few dollars to spare can build their own Steam streaming box in a matter of minutes.

Nintendo pulls the plug on making more SNES Classic, NES Classic systems

Nintendo extended production of the NES Classic and SNES Classic into 2018, but once the current supply of consoles is gone, the company won't be making more. Instead, you'll have to use Nintendo Switch Online.

Fancy ‘Kingdom Hearts III’ PlayStation 4 Pro launches alongside game in January

A limited edition PlayStation 4 Pro bundle for Kingdom Hearts III will launch alongside the game in January. The system included has a special design on the side, as does the controller.

Want to share your Xbox One games? Here's how to do it

Sharing games on modern consoles is possible, but it takes a few steps. Here's how to start sharing games on your Xbox One console, so friends and family can easily access your library.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.