You may have heard this before. X game system that isn’t selling so hot will have sales pick up steam once good games start coming out. Its a logical assumption because good software does indeed sell hardware. But in order to have developers put their best effort into developing software for any platform, that platform must be a good bet for them financially. This is the PS Vita’s problem right now.
I haven’t met a single person who wasn’t impressed by the Vita’s hardware. Everyone drools over the OLED screen and amazing visuals. It is a fantastic piece of technology that no wants to buy right now. That’s not because the hardware is bad, its because there isn’t a lot of must-have games on the Vita at the moment.
If Sony wants to move more Vita units they need better games on store shelves. Apparently they believe downgraded PS3 ports of Playstation All-Stars, Sly Cooper, and an utterly terrible version of Call of Duty will do the trick. It doesn’t seem like that is working out for them right now. So if Sony doesn’t plan on delivering any system selling software themselves then third parties will need to step up to save the Vita.
Once again, that brings back to our catch 22. The Vita can’t sell better if it doesn’t get a significant boost in quality games. But publishers can’t afford to risk making new, original and exclusive Vita projects if they can’t recoup development costs. The simple fact is that PS Vita software, for the most part isn’t selling very well.
This is obviously due to the low install base. Third parties can’t justify Vita projects if there isn’t a large market ready to purchase their games for $40-$50 on day one. Sony seems incapable of delivering first party software that can move systems, thus putting the most powerful gaming handheld between a rock and an even bigger rock.
How will the Vita get out of this situation? Unless Sony can secure a great third party exclusive then it doesn’t look like third parties will help any. Perhaps a portable GTA or exclusive Final Fantasy would steer the ship on course. We all know Monster Hunter and Dragon Quest aren’t returning to the Playstation brand anytime soon.
Sony has no other choice than to come out with some big name IPs for the Vita only. No PS4 or PS3 installments one year later or up-ports down the line. Sony needs to be releasing nothing but unique software that can’t be found on their home consoles. This is similar to how Nintendo segregates certain IPs between their home consoles and portables.
Advance Wars, Legendary Starfy, Clubhouse Games, Nintendogs, Pokemon RPGs and Brain Age don’t appear on Nintendo home consoles. Battalion Wars, Pikmin, and others don’t appear on Nintendo handhelds. There are cross-over titles, for sure, but for the most part Nintendo keeps IPs separated by platform.
What Sony needs to do is develop some new system selling software with broad appeal and market it exclusively for the Vita. I know that is a really general way to describe it but they need to be working on the “next big thing” in terms of gaming right now. They need a new IP that will catch on like Pokemon, Monster Hunter, Skylanders did.
Perhaps a few franchises that normally appeared on the PS3 need to go Vita exclusive and no longer appear on Sony home consoles. This would make the Vita versions more “must-have” since consumers wouldn’t have a superior, better playing version on the PS3 sitting under their television.
Sony needs to do something quickly about the PS Vita. Its not that people don’t want to buy it or that developers don’t want to make games for it. Its that there isn’t enough reasons to buy it or make games for it yet. After one full year on the market the handheld has barely sold over 3 million units worldwide. The PS Vita is in one hell of a catch 22 and something has got to give. The sooner things improve the better.