Sony’s Q2 report suggests 10m PSP/vita combined sales by March.

Sony have published their Q2 financial report, and I guess as Vita fans the bit we are most interested in is the Vita sales. As of June 30th 2012 we had been told that worldwide we had seen 2.2 million units shifted since the launch and these latest figures are a little trickier to decipher as Sony have again seen fit to lumber the Vita and PSP sales together.

They have seen 1.6 million shifted in three months, versus 1.7 shifted in the same period last year, although that was just PSPs on their own. Sony have also reduced their sales projections for the Vita, stating that they now expect to reach 10m combined units by the end of the financial year in March.

But this is now the second time they have reduced the figures, after originally stating they expected 16m in May and 12m in August. Stripping through the figures is difficult, by VGCharts suggests worldwide Vita sales at this point of 3.04m sold.

Given that we are amidst a global recession, my question is simple. Why is this a bad thing? It is of course disappointing to find a platform struggling to make its mark, but it isn’t even a year old yet. It was only around this point in the life of the 3DS that it started taking off, having percievably “flopped” with sales of around 3.6m after a poor start and the global estimate for it is now 22m as it approaches its second birthday.

The 3DS is also struggling to measure up the the incomparable success of the original DS, which is on the brink of becoming the best selling system of all time. By the same point in that life cycle, the DS was around 50m units. Considering that the PSP has around half the total sales of the DS, and the Vita has around half the 3DS sales at the same point in its life, it would appear that reports of a demise may be a little premature.

When the DS and PSP were out, there were no mass market tablets, smart phones were not as widely available or as affordable as they are now, and people had more disposable income to lavish on whatever they fancied. With all of the competition that handheld gaming now has, it is still an achievement that that Vita has hit the sales figure it has, and we have Christmas around the corner. I have seen marketing taking a big improvement here in the UK, and hopefully this momentum will see them continue beyond christmas, as people still do not know enough about the Vita.

There are still elements of strategy that need to be worked on, and although we are told that many unannounced titles are in development, it might be helpful for some names to be dropped in to give something to those looking beyond 2012 releases to give buyers cause for optimism in early 2013. Sony also probably aren’t helping with the continued support for the PSP. Outside of big release weeks, the PSP is currently outselling the Vita in Japan, and has done for many weeks this year. Perhaps a decision needs to be made here.

We are right in the middle of a games release explosion, and titles such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted showcase exactly what can be done and that the Vita can handle multi-platform releases, and we have quite a few more games to look forward to between now and the end of the year to go with the great selection already available.

I stated before on PS Vita Forum that with the current momentum in sales that the Vita will probably be around 6-8 million sales by the end of the financial year, which will require at least double the number sold in 8 months in just 6. But if this happens, the Vita will be at about 8-12% of the lifetime PSP sales in around 10% of the time.

Which in the current climate is surely not a bad thing. And neither is a little optimism.

 

  • Vittorio

    Hi Paul!

    While I mostly agree with you when you say that it’s not such a bad figure to start with, and that we should keep a positive angle to look at on this matter, I cannot look at the big picture in such rosy terms as you do. Yes, you can look the whole day at DS or 3DS numbers and look for a possible positive comparisson, but I’m telling you: there is none. Vita numbers are falling short of 3DS (And of course DS) ones. By much. What I think is neither possitive nor negative.

    Listen, the way I see it, Sony knows they are not targeting the same demographic that Nintendo, and that is something to think about. Wii numbers were always a lot better than the others, because they were going for the general public, and that, if it goes as it should (as it did), guarantees you lots of money. Another thing is if these people bought a lot of games after playing Wii Sports and buying Wii Fit again. I suspect they did not. Because Big N is going the other way with Wii U. And they wouldn’t have if everything was so good with Wii. But they are not turning around with 3DS, wich goes after more or less the same people that had the DS. It is only bigger, (slightly) more powerful, and in 3D. Perfect. Money-making machine.

    You cannot look at the numbers and be succesful in stablishing a comparisson were Vita gets the higher hand. But you can skip the comparisson altogether and say “Wow, 3 million people got Vita. At its original price. And buying more than one or two game each”, because that’s what hardcore gamers do. And that’s who this console is specifically made for.

    And in the moment we’re living, historically, economically or whatever you want to call it, that’s the public you want on your console. The ones that save in movies/going out/clothing, but not in the ocassional game for their systems. I’m not exactly rich, but I have 9 games for my 2 months old Vita. Because I love games.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Yanikun

      The 3DS is more than slightly more powerful than the DS. The 3DS is more powerful (but in a comparable league) as the Wii, whereas the DS was more powerful (but in a comparable league) as the N64.

      • Paul

        I have a hard time believin that bro, i like the 3DS but it looks more gamecuby to me

        • Yanikun

          It is, but I think since its power hasn’t been used very well or very consistently yet, you’ll notice it more as time goes on (you should start noticing that more pretty soon, with Sonic & All Stars Racing and Castlevania for example). I know what you’re saying, I had a hard time believing it too originally, when so many of its games looked more like PSP.

    • Hi Vittorio, thanks for reading and for your comment.

      In terms of figures, I agree that there isn’t a way of making 3m Vita sales seem impressive against the 3DS’s sales, but that wasn’t what I was doing here. I was highlighting that at the same point in time we are half the 3DS numbers. By also pointing out that overall the PSP was half the DS.

      The Vita was never going to outsell the 3DS and anyone that thought it would is just kidding themselves. Nintendo have the dominance in this market and the experience and most importantly right now, they have more developer support.

      But with all the negativity around the Vita and this 3m sales figure, I just thought I’d portay it in a better light.

      🙂

  • red

    There is no conceivable way to construe Vita sales, as of right now, as anything but dismal. Sony itself has been forced to cut the forecast several times in the past year, and has had to send talking heads out to the press to reassure investors that it isn’t a complete disaster.

    The Vita is selling worse than the Dreamcast sold in its first year, and combined sales of the PSP and Vita this year are less than the PSP alone last year. For reference, the PSP sold at more than double the rate of the Vita in its first year, and a large chunk of current Vita sales were launch window sales, the numbers showing sales falling off a cliff thereafter. This is something that is incredibly important to note, and no one ever seems to.

    Meanwhile, in the same economy, the 3DS sells gangbusters. Vita sales have seen no Sept/Oct bump whatsoever, while the 3DS has consistently sold 200k+ units every week since August. Blaming the economy, even in part, for the Vita’s failure on the market while its only direct competition sets sales records (fastest selling system of all time there, even faster than the DS) seems a bit disingenuous.

    Beyond all this, though, the reason why Vita sales thus far have been a bad thing (since you’re asking) is because Sony believes it to be a bad thing. Sony has slashed forecasts twice in the Vita’s first year, and has gone into all out damage control mode hoping to calm the investors down on several more occasions. The Vita in its launch year is selling worse than the PSP did in its 6th year, and Sony is losing huge amounts of money because of it. Third parties are fleeing the party publicly, and being outsold 5-8/1 every week by the competition is not helping matters.

    It’s fine to be optimistic, but this isn’t optimism. No true gamer wants something to fail, and I’m sure most of us hope that Sony can right the ship before it’s too late, but things are about as far from good right now as they’ve been since for any system since the Dreamcast. Denying this doesn’t do anyone any favors.

    • Yanikun

      Exactly, loving the system and wanting it to succeed have nothing to do with looking at its sales performance objectively and realistically. You summed things up very well.

  • The more sales, the more games, when the Vita reaches a set adaption point then more games will be developed and in turn more people will buy one.
    Personally I think the Vita needs to get to 10 million as quick as possible, hopefully by this time next year. If it does then it’s future should be ok as developers will invest in masking games for a possible audience of 10 million or so. If by this time next year sales are 6 or 7 million at best then the Vita could really struggle and lose dev’s left and right.

    2013 is make or break for the Vita IMO.

  • Yanikun

    “By the same point in that life cycle, the DS was around 50m units.”

    Subtract about 30 million to get the correct number. The 3DS is still outselling the DS at this point in time.

    Also, you seem to forget the weapons Nintendo has in its arsenal to keep that momentum, which would be Mario, Mario Kart, Monster Hunter, Dragon Quest, Zelda, Pokemon, Smash Bros.

    The weapons Sony has in its arsenal to create momentum: Uncharted? Already used. Hot Shots Golf? Already used. Resistance? Already used. LittleBigPlanet? Already used.

    • Did you click the 50m? It links to a figure around 18 months into the DS life, November 2007, which is where we are now. So I’d say that is accurate.

      Also Yanikun, sure Sony doesn’t have the arsenal you mention, but they didn’t have it on the PSP either. They do have franchises not yet used, but again like I mentioned to Vittoro it doesn’t have to all be doom and gllom.

      3m is a solid install base, but Sony need to see themselves through a solid christmas and beyond. If we are at the figures suggested by March it will not be the end of the world.

      Like I said, the Vita was never going to outperform the 3DS, so the fact that it struggles from a sales point of view is hardly a surprise.

      And the 3DS is more powerful than the Wii? Really? Where the proof of that? The DS was basically a more powerful N64. Nothing on the 3DS has convinced me that it is more powerful than the Wii. Gamecube perhaps is on a par.

      • Paul

        That links to an article from 2007 wen the DS was like 3 yo… the 3DS ain’t 3 yo yet and you gotta consider that the DS sales only started t skyrocket after the dslite was lanched so the guy is right

        • That may be correct actually. But the DS was still ahead of the 3DS at the same point.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_DS_sales

          • Apparently, only very slightly. Paul (not you, Murphy :P) is right but we can indeed see that from around the 2 year mark the DS started selling much more, and I doubt the 3DS can keep up with that.

          • Yanikun

            Your 3-year article has already been mentioned as incorrect, but evem your very own link right now proves you wrong:
            The DS at 19 months was at 21.27m units.
            The 3DS at 19 months is at 22.19m units.
            (http://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/en/sales/hard_soft/index.html)

            Also, at 19 months, the DS had already gone through two holiday seasons, versus one for the 3DS.

            As for the 3DS being more powerful than the Wii, it’s obviously impossible to explain in quickly. Do you have a friend who’s very good at specs maybe? He’d explain to you in detail much better than I could. But even before Nintendo unlocked more power inside the 3DS (that happened at some point after summer 2010), at least I can give you a few links quickly explaining where its superiority lies:

            1) http://hdwarriors.com/3ds-more-capable-than-the-wii-developer-commentary/
            2) http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110331191540AA4acRv
            3) For this, you have to know that Capcom said the Wii couldn’t even handle Resident Evil 5’s title screen. http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2012/01/capcom_had_resident_evil_5_running_on_3ds

            I think the reason people who don’t really know that much about the system have trouble believing it is because, for one, a couple of its blockbuster titles started development before the unlock in power I’m talking about, but most importantly, because a lot of devs simply didn’t make their engine for the 3DS, unlike Capcom who used their MT Framework Mobile engine from the start (mobile version of their home console engine). That’s why if you like at any of their 3DS releases (Super Street Fighter IV, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries, Monster Hunter Tri G or Resident Evil Revelations) you’ll see that those games look better than the Wii. The easiest comparison would probably be Monster Hunter, since MH Tri was a Wii game, and Tri-G is an update of that and it is graphically superior.

            But like I said above, you’ll begin to see that from other developers more consistently, as soon as Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed and Castlevania (the lighting in Castlevania in particular, just like RE: Revelations, is the most flagrant way you can see the difference with the Wii).

          • The 3DS on a technical level may be powerful than the Wii in terms of specification, but depending on how you look at the Vita specs, you could say it’s more powerful than the PS3, but it isn’t. I certainly haven’t seen any indication that the 3DS has that kind of power. And it certainly won’t be realised by the majority of the developers if it does. I look forward to seeing evidence of this though.

            But really though, this article was just supposed to highlight that 3m Vita sales isn’t the end of the world, not how good the 3DS is. There are 3DS site for you to all do that. 😉

          • Yanikun

            ^ Sorry for the spelling and grammatical errors up there, but I think you’ll get it.

          • Yanikun

            Okay, no problem.

            That still leaves your article with a major error. 50 million instead of 21 million makes a huge difference. Of course, the 3DS most likely won’t surpass the DS (because lightning rarely strikes twice and the market has shrunk), but it’s nowhere on the level of 22m vs 50m already so that gives a completely false idea of the situation that renders your article’s argument invalid. Your reasoning hinges on the Vita and 3DS both doing half as good as their predecessors and that’s not true, so maybe you should edit your article.

            I think 3 million in that amount of time is abysmal, in particular because, as Red above pointed out, the fact that it did 300k+ in its first two days (major opening) then dropped right away is important to note. Sony released the PSP coming off the incredible success of the PS2. Third-party devs and gamers alike had a lot of confidence. The DS and the PSP were pretty much night and day — I bought a PSP and not a DS, that’s how different the propositions were. Two propositions for two kinds of gamers. The DS could not handle the types of games that could be, and were, made on the PSP. For that reason, the PSP was competitive.

            But now look, the 3DS and mobile devices are all powerful enough to handle complex 3D games. Who would have thought 8 years ago that GTA III and GTA Vice City would come to smartphones and tablets? So with mobile devices being that strong, the 3DS being strong enough to handle complex 3D games, and the fact that Western devs are a bit more hesitant about the handheld games market than they were 8 years ago, that eats a lot into the strengths Sony had with the PSP. They can’t rely that heavily on third-party developers, and they didn’t take advantage of the PSP years to create new handheld-exclusive first-party IPs that they could continue this generation.

            So for your question of “Is 3 million Vita sales a bad thing?,” when I look at it in context, then yes, it is. Considering Assassin’s Creed and Need for Speed were just released and that Call of Duty is around the corner, it will be very interesting to see just how well they do in the next few weeks and months. But you can’t just look at a number and ignore the complexity of the context it’s in. I mean you did intend to look at it, definitely, but because you compared a 3-year number to a 19-month number, it all crumbled. It’s not an achievement that the Vita has hit the sales number it has. And while it’s fair to say that the Vita probably wasn’t going to outsell the 3DS (which I actually think was a possibility, even if slim), still, the Vita is competing with the 3DS. That was Sony’s intention all along, just like when they entered the home console market with the PlayStation and managed to take the crown from Nintendo. Maybe they weren’t necessarily thinking about outselling it, but Kaz has publicly stated they wanted to exceed the 70 million mark of the PSP (at the time) “both in terms of numbers and timing to get to that number.” (http://www.computerandvideogames.com/306215/sony-wants-ps-vita-profit-within-three-years/)
            The gap between the Vita and the PSP or the 3DS is going to be important to them for the Vita to not be a failure in their eyes.

          • Of the 3DS’ 22m sales around 15-16m have been in the last 12 months. Coinciding with the price cut and the software boom, it has gone on to be considered successful after being derided as a flop before that. That was with big hitters of its

            The Vita is getting bundles, about to enter christmas and has some more games to go with its already decent enough library. At some point in 2013 we will also see a cut. We have spoken about this before on PS Vita Forum and I don’t believe for a second that it will get anywhere near the 3DS’ or PSP’s sales. This doesn’t make it a failure.

            I’ve made a mistake in the article, but the intention was to create some positivity from the news. Nice to see that people still want to tear it down after.

            The Vita does have handicaps, the requirement of over priced memory, the prices of games in general, especially in the EU and the awful pricing on the PS store. But the biggest is explaining to everyone why they need one or what it is. Poor marketing, which is seemingly now being addressed, is also at major fault. The way it is presented in shops, the fact that the major retailer in the UK doesn’t seemingly be carrying large stocks of things Vita related can’t be helping.

            But it has still sold 3m in 8-9 months (plus Japan). Perhaps it should be credited for that, inspite of the challenges thrown in its way by whoever.

            Perhaps I’m being generous, but I wouldn’t consider it a failure if it is around the 6/7m figure by March. Would you?

          • Yanikun

            Your intention of creating positivity is laudable, and I think it’s nice to get a break from all the negativity — just like I was pissed off that everyone’s focus was stuck on the budget and box office for John Carter and rarely ever mentioned anything about its quality, so I know that feel — but positivity or negativity has nothing to do with it. Your explanation of why 3 million units sold shouldn’t be that bad relied entirely on that 22 vs 50 million comparison. So, if those numbers are wrong, shouldn’t you rethink your stance on the numbers not being that bad? That’s just what I’m trying to say. What do you truly think now that you’re aware of the error in your numbers?

            But anyway, once again, with that 6-8 million estimate, you’re looking purely at numbers. 6-8 million could be good or bad depending on the potential for momentum. Like you said, the 3DS got its success from the momentum Nintendo was able to recreate after having lost it. The Vita lost its momentum after its first two days on the market and never found it again. So now we need to focus not on just the numbers, but where it can go beyond those numbers. If the Vita is at 6 million units but by that time Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, and GTA are announced, obviously there would be a lot of potential there for renewed momentum. But you’ve got to look at the release schedule and the announcements to see if it will get more than a spike in sales here and there whenever a major title is released. They’re gonna need frequent widely appealing titles and a few evergreen titles coupled with the announced price cut for the ship to be turned around.

            I think 8 million units would be pretty good if by then there’s more on the horizon. But I don’t believe 8 million units is possible, I don’t believe 7 million is possible, and while 6 million by the end of March could happen, I don’t believe it will. Forget about Japan already as we know it has nothing to carry it until February; in the West, I don’t know, I should mention it right away: I’m not an expert in Western video game tastes (I’m out of touch with the current HD generation), but let’s hope NFS, AC, COD and PSASBR will keep selling pretty consistently for some time. I guess that could carry it. Still, I don’t know, three more millions in five months? It’s not going to be that easy, and even then, I don’t think 6 millions is a good number for it. I guess failure is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to consumers, for now at least. But I definitely think it will be a failure for Sony.

            My outlook is this: the West by itself — in the current circumstances, with even the 3DS failing to create as much excitement as it should — won’t carry it. It just can’t be successful without Japan. Can you imagine a major Japanese company like Sony losing Japan that way? That would be a failure any way you look at it. It would undeniably damage the PlayStation brand. The West, so far, has done nothing for the Vita. Those holiday titles would have a lot of carrying to do.

            And if you look at the games that were supposed to do really well like Hot Shots Golf, Uncharted and LittleBigPlanet, they didn’t. That’s why I’m afraid the holiday titles won’t do as well as they would have done for the PSP back then.

            I’m really not trying to put the Vita down (my favorite game this gen is Gravity Rush, not a 3DS game); I truly believe that, realistically, it’s really bad, and it will remain bad for a while. I look at the horizon and, apart from the Western holiday season, I see nothing but one-week or two-week spikes. Sony’s equivalent of Nintendo franchises is strong third-party support, and seriously, to developers that want to have the best shot at making money (which would be all of them), why would they look at the Vita and think it’s the right platform for that again? They’re all switching to mobile devices already. Even Nihilistic is closing, and will now be making mobile games. Japanese developers don’t need the Vita, they don’t care about high production values like Western devs do. Why should we be optimistic about what’s to come at the moment? I’m already set to remain satisfied with the Vita for good now that I have Gravity Rush and Need for Speed so I’m not complaining, I just feel like I’m looking at it as realistically and objectively as I can. Not all systems succeed, I think some Vita owners need to accept that the PlayStation name is not invincible. Nintendo had its GameCube, too.

  • MikeRox

    We’ll know more in January. The this is the first “holiday” period for the system outside of Japan and it’s finally got a bunch of games which people interested in a Vita would consider system sellers.

    It’s certainly not had the start anyone could have hoped for, but that hasn’t stopped it becoming my primary system (over PS3 and 3DS) since it’s release in February.

  • Vittorio

    Well, everybody around here seems to focus on the figures, and I believe it is more a problem of concept. While selling 3m of anything is hardly a bad thing itself, I think that comparissons among different systems, time periods and markets is not really helping your point Murphy, and I really think you do have one, and very good if you ask me. Positivity, that’s the real thing for me on the system right now. Sales figures are what they are, and they may be this way because of pricing, games, economical situation, marketing… whatever. The thing is, while selling 6,000-7,000 unit every week at Japan is very little, games do keep coming out, and some of them may change the situation for the better, and even if they don’t, and the sales rythm keeps somewhat slow, there still is a rythm. It is true that Sony did not abandon PSP even when things look really dark with piracy issues, sales and everything, and in the end it did not turn that bad. And it is true also that Vita is the only hand held console that allows you to play the same games on the go than on your desktop. Stressing the word “SAME” here. There is a solid base for the console at 3m. Devs should not think of the Vita as a low invest-return console, because of that base, and because of the supposedly slow new launchs rate. It even may hold a very good chance of success for the right game…

    Yes, you are wrong on stablishing the comparissons. Any. But yes, you are absolutely right when you keep a possitive mood on the general state of things. I don´t even believe Sony is doing bad with Vita (Even when they are not meeting their own figures repeatedly). They are not investing as much as they (or we) thought they would in the beginning either, so… Anyway, Vita has, how many games? around 30-40? More than what any of you would own at the end of the system’s life, with some very good entries in the catalog in every genre. So, complaints are understandable in the light of fear for the future of the machine, but not sustainable if you are complaining about the present situation.

    I think Vita is a slow burning stew. And with the best ingredients, few things go wrong in the end. I, for one, don’t regret one bit my purchase. Desktop games on the palm of my hand. One thing I’ve always dreamt of.

    • You do realize Sony is selling the Vita at a loss and they have to make that up with games being sold, right? So if they sell a significant number of Vitas lower than they expect, they have less solid financial ground (to start developing more and better first party titles or to attract third party developers). Also, no game on the vita yet has sold more than 800,000, so it’s not looking like Sony is benefiting much there either. A slow sales rhythm isn’t good at all because; it’s slow.
      I think it’s the other way around. At present the Vita is selling poorly, but that may improve in the future.

      • Yanikun

        There’s no indication at all that the Vita is selling at a loss. Their projection from the start has always been to sell it profitably at a price point of $250, and they were saying at 99% of the development that they were doing good on that projection. So whether they’re selling it at a small loss, break-even or a small profit, we don’t know, but if it’s a loss it’s a small one.
        We also know the manufacturing costs and they’re not all that high (especially the 3G model; no wonder they were pushing for it to sell better, their margin on it would be pretty high as it only cost $160 to manufacture), so whatever costs they have to add on top of that, again, if it’s a loss, it’s not a big one.

        People often mistake an article that said they would make a profit after 3 years as meaning that the Vita sells at a loss, but they meant the whole venture would be profitable in 3 years (at least that’s what they thought at the time, it’s probably different now).