Sony are conceding they may have incorrectly predicted the competitive nature of the modern handheld market when launching PlayStation Vita; leading to disappointing sales.

“In all honesty, higher sales would have been what we had hoped for,”  confessed PlayStation UK Marketing Director Fergal Gara in an interview with VG247.

The Japanese conglomerate believe that with increased demand for the users attention in the mobile space, consumers tend to favour an all-encompassing smart device rather than multiple dedicated pieces of technology.

“The market Vita entered was more complicated than it was when the console was originally thought about and designed. Games on tablets and phones have changed the marketplace and people can’t carry too many things around at one time.” said Gara. “The truth is that the number of people that want the core experience [that Vita offers] is not as big as the number that simply want any sort of game available on the move and, because the likes of a tablet and smart phone are so multifunctional in their use, they will always be very appealing.” he explained.

‘Do I need it as well as these other things that are taking my money?’

Ultimately this unprecedented amount of choice afforded to those in the mobile market has led for a battle for both the consumer’s mindshare, and their wallets.

““The truth is that the number of people that want the core experience [that Vita offers] is not as big as the number that simply want any sort of game available on the move and, because the likes of a tablet and smart phone are so multifunctional in their use, they will always be very appealing.” Gara confided. “Really, I think the reason it hasn’t sold more is that it comes down to people thinking: ‘Do I need it as well as these other things that are taking my money?’” he confessed.

It’s uncertain how Sony plans to tackle this issue moving forward, however it should be noted that they recently announced their multi-hardware game streaming service PlayStation Now.

 

  • Magnumstache

    I read that article yesterday and it filled me with dread. I disagree massively with what Fergal Gara is saying and if that’s what they truly feel over at Sony then the Vita is in trouble.

    In my opinion the Vita has mainly been held back by poor marketing, a dearth of exclusives with mass market appeal (Call of Duty being mince did a lot of damage in my opinion) and the perceived high cost of the system, particularly the memory cards. The success of the 3DS shows that the handheld market isn’t moribund. If Sony support the Vita like Nintendo did the 3DS then they can still make it a success, but they’ve shown no inclination that they plan to do so.

    Magnumstache.

  • Terramax

    “The truth is that the number of people that want the core
    experience [that Vita offers] is not as big as the number that simply
    want any sort of game available on the move …”

    That may be so, but that doesn’t mean the number of people interested in video games in general, whom bought a PSP and DS in the past, has deminished. I find it hard to believe anyone other than a very small minority of gamers whom bought a PSP and DS were happy to settle with the fairly basic games available on tablets and mobile phones. it’s simple– the console has failed to take off due to its high price range and lack of titles enticing to the majority. Blaming the mobile phone market doesn’t hold water. It just doesn’t. The mobile game market was available and thriving many years before.

  • Kyle Wakeling

    Articles like this are why a lot of people shy away from the Vita, not the mobile market.

  • VitaLombax

    The mobile phone and tablet market doesn’t make a difference here. It’s a poor excuse to point to that when, for example, the 3DS was 2013’s biggest-selling gaming device in the UK.

    Negative articles don’t make a difference, either – one only has to look at the massive campaigns a number of high-profile outlets ran against the 3DS (in spite of the fact that opthalmologists were speaking positively of the device as possibly highlighting issues that would otherwise be missed), and then at how successful it is, to see that.

    The key to the portables market is really very simple: It’s all about providing a good stream of games that people want to play *on a handheld*. That is, stuff that you can play for minutes or hours, and can save and stop at any time. Whilst there is a place for home-console-type experiences, the bulk of offerings simply cannot be long-winded stuff that takes hours to make progress in and which keeps triggering off the system’s power-saving features where they take so long to deal with.

    Vita games like Spelunky and the upcoming Lemmings Touch are *perfect* and would easily be system-sellers, but they don’t seem to be promoted at all. In an ideal world, they would be promoted well, included in console bundles, and, importantly, have some sort of retail presence, since that is where they’re most likely to be noticed. Games that don’t require internet access either to obtain, or to use (I’m looking at the PS Mobile library, here, which requires online activation on each use, which isn’t practical for a device you won’t always have internet access with), are vital, as well.

    It is possible to turn things around, but that means not making the mistake of ignoring the doings of the more successful competition, and pointing to an unrelated market (there may be overlap, but the content offered shows that phones and consoles do not share the same space) and blaming that for failings.

  • aros

    Aye memory cards are what damages Vita beyond anything else – there are still so many people who want the system but aren’t prepared to pay the extreme cost for something that is worth so much less (cards.) The market has contracted slightly of course, but at least 4 AA (intentionally AA) exclusives that appeal to the mass market, cheap memory cards, proper advertising and paying shops to promote the system would make a big impact on Vita’s sales. Look at how much things have improved since they have been advertising it since the PS4’s release. It’s a shame they don’t have another AAA game due out around now as it would be a good time to strike. Simply, Sony needs to put their money where their mouth is and pay for high quality AA console quality games which can then be later ported to PS3/4 in say 6 – 12 months as the GTA Stories games came to PS2. They should be financing a new Viewtiful Joe and all the other games that were big last gen but faded this gen – Vita could become home to reboots of older franchises to set it apart from console. It’s incredibly important there are Vita games that aren’t just ‘watered down console versions’ in the eyes of the public and exclusive franchises that are also acclaimed and successful from past console games could be the way to go. Advertising since PS4 has increased sales by 65% in UK I believe? So advertising with a big exclusive title with mainstream appeal hitting the console would have made a massive difference. It’s a shame Sony didn’t compete with Nintendo for Sonic exclusivity or worked out some form of Skylanders/Disney Infinity deal. Even some kind of a PS Heroes battling/collection game using £1.99 blind bags could massively increase the appeal of the console to kids.

  • aros

    He’s also forgetting mobile games are junk basically and after a honeymoon period, very few gamers are satisfied to settle with them. What they really, really need to do is release a Vita phone, slide design, back touch on the back of the screen that slides up. It needs to be multi-processor so the phone and Android elements don’t interfere with Vita mode or ever slow it down as the phone gets older. Properly promoted they could be successful – Xperia Play was damaged due to the lack of compelling titles (mobile games with controls, nothing XP only) which would be solved with the Vita library available. Obviously top range phones sell for close to £500 so they could surely include another set of system chips to be dedicated to Android for that price.

    • aros

      My Xperia Play broke last October and I have not gone for a new phone yet as I would prefer one with gaming controls, but no manufacturer is producing one even as a niche handset. Puzzling.