24/7 Wall St., a Delaware corporation that runs a financial news and opinion operation with content delivered over the internet, declares that Sony’s latest handheld game console, the PlayStation Vita, which released globally this year, is one of the worst product flops of 2012.
The company says, that while its initial sales were promising, the overall sales of the PlayStation Vita are poor, compared to the Nintendo 3DS, smartphones and tablets.
Also on 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the worst product flops of 2012 is another Sony device – the Sony Tablet P.
Released first in Japan in December 2011 and then globally in February 2012, initial sales of the PlayStation Vita were encouraging. By the end of February, the company announced it had sold approximately 1.2 million units, followed by an additional 2 million units of software for the handheld game console. Yet sales quickly declined. From its release date to June 30, just 2.2 million PlayStation Vita units were sold, far less than the 3.6 million units Nintendo 3DS sold in just its first month. Recently, Sony has clumped sales of the Vita and its predecessor, the PSP, together to avoid highlighting embarrassing sales figures. Frequent complaints about the Vita were that the $300 price tag was too expensive and that its game lineup was both weak and small, especially given the availability of cheaper gaming through smartphones and tablets.
Vice president of mobile development for Activision, Greg Canessa says that both Nintendo and Sony can’t ignore the looming rise of smartphones and tablets. Canessa argues that while you can’t get console quality experiences on either of those devices, you can get great games. These games cost a fraction of those found on Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita.
“There’s no doubt that that space faces challenges. They are more directly competitive with what’s going on in the tablet and mobile space and there’s a lot more overlap there, to be honest.
“It is a challenging market, and challenging in a number of ways. From a gameplay immersiveness standpoint, from price point and business model standpoint, I mean it’s $40 for some of those games and you can get great experiences – not necessarily comparable experience, but great nonetheless – for seven dollars on a tablet.”
“Our relationships with Sony and Nintendo are important and we continue to support them by creating games on both [Vita and 3DS] platforms. Beyond that the market’s going to speak ultimately as to the viability of those products.”
Out of a total of 715 games that were at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, 507 were for smartphones and tablets. In comparison, there were a mere 41 for Nintendo platforms – 34 for Nintendo 3DS, five for Wii and two for Wii U, which will launch in Japan on December 8th.
Games At Tokyo Game Show 2012:
- Smartphones & Tablets: 507
- PlayStation 3: 57
- Nintendo 3DS: 34
- PC: 32
- PSP: 30
- PlayStation Vita: 24
- Xbox 360: 24
- Wii: 5
- Wii U: 2
Despite the growing rise of smartphones and tablet devices, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata remains convinced that the dedicated gaming handheld market isn’t shrinking or vanishing. Iwata also went on to say that as long as the company can make compelling software for portable gaming machines that can’t be replicated by tablets or smartphones, then Nintendo will keep producing them.
“I think that if we are able to provide experiences on handheld devices that consumers cannot get on another device, then we will continue creating software and hardware going forward, and if it comes to a point when we’re not able to do that, I think, yeah, you will see portable handheld gaming devices go the way of the Dodo, I guess.”
“I think a lot of this discussion is based on the premise that the handheld gaming device market is shrinking or vanishing and I don’t think that is true and I’d like to address that,” he said. He turned to his MacBook Air as he began to cite some stats.
Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli has warned that current video game consoles face the danger of becoming unused as higher spec tablets become more and more mainstream. Yerli says that this generation has gone on too long, and there’s an increasing likelihood that gamers will reach for their ultra-powerful tablets, rather than traditional video game consoles.
“The current generations are drying out, and the longer we wait for the next generation of consoles, the higher the likelihood that they could fall behind tablets in terms of being the first thing people reach for when the time comes to play games. Tablets are putting pressure on the gaming industry, and taking over in some ways, so that should be kept in mind.”
According to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, the Wii U will be released this year because “it’s going to be important for the world.” Iwata explained that portable touchscreens, such as tablets and smartphones, are common household items that consumers use on a regular basis. Iwata believes that the Wii U GamePad, which will be bundled with the Wii U console, will be an important device for people who use electronic devices at their homes.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has admitted that the rise of smartphones and tablets have ultimately changed the video game industry. Iwata says that the company can no longer offer some kinds of games experiences that couldn’t also easily be offered on a smartphone, so they need to differentiate and offer something exclusive.
There has already been touchscreen-to-TV gaming before Wii U but, according to Pocket Gamer, Nintendo’s upcoming console will solidify that experience. The Wii U GamePad is very responsive with a television display and, unlike other touchscreen-to-TV gaming devices on the market, its image does not lag behind the TV. Two Wii U “tablets” can be used on a single TV and up to five players can play simultaneously on a Wii U. According to Pocket Gamer, “The multiplayer possibilities instantly elevate the Wii U’s tablet gameplay above anything else out there.”
“What Nintendo has managed with Wii U works on several levels. Firstly, assuming the lag has been conquered (I say ‘assuming’, because the Wii U’s tablet was actually tethered to the device), the general responsiveness thrashes Apple’s implementation.”
“Secondly, two tablets can work on the same console, and several of the minigames I tried involved five player multiplayer, with one person in charge of the Wii U tablet, while the remaining players viewed the TV and controlled their characters via Wiimotes.”
“The multiplayer possibilities – even from brief tech demos – instantly elevate the Wii U’s tablet gameplay above anything else out there.”
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, has told Games Industry that to better manage costs of Wii U development the company will port its Wii U projects to smartphones and tablets. Guillemot explained that while its difficult to port Wii U games to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, there’s more opportunity to recoup costs if a title isn’t successful on a single touch-screen platform.
“The new content you can’t port on the other machines but what you can do is to port it to mobile phones and to tablets. So it’s a way to create content that you will be able to port on the generations of tablets or phones that work well – if you don’t monetise it there you can monetise it on many other platforms.”
“You have to do specific content to be monetised by the Wii U itself but it’s also an opening to all the tablets and phones because it’s a same system in in a way, the touch screen.”