Sony explains why PlayStation Vita has come up short

"Games on tablets and phones have changed the marketplace, and people can't carry too many things around at one time," says executive Fergal Gara.

The rise in popularity of mobile games for tablets and smartphones has negatively impacted the sales potential for dedicated gaming devices like the PlayStation Vita, Sony has said.

"In all honesty, higher sales would have been what we had hoped for," Sony UK managing director Fergal Gara told VG247. "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."

"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 smartphone are so multifunctional in their use, they will always be very appealing," he added.

The bottom line, Gara said, is that Sony has not been able so far to convince shoppers that they need a PS Vita in addition to the smartphone or tablet they already own. In the interview, he didn't offer much in the way of explaining how things may improve for the PS Vita going forward.

However, he did say that because the PS Vita and PlayStation 4 were in development at the same time, Sony has been able to foster greater connectivity between the two platforms, especially in the Remote Play department.

The PS Vita launched in North America in February 2012. Sony has not disclosed sales numbers for the device, but sales reportedly spiked substantially following the PS4 launch. After a price cut in August 2013, the system is now currently available for $200.

Meanwhile, Mario maker Nintendo is enjoying healthy sales of its 3DS family of dedicated game systems. Last week, Nintendo announced that sales for the system in the United States alone passed 11.5 million, which led the company to label the device a "powerhouse."

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
441 comments
aryanbrar
aryanbrar

pity the ps vita such an innovating hardware at the mercy of the worst manufacturer. mobile gaming lel top kek. games on cellphones suck compared to the ones on handheld console. better question is why isn't sony dead yet. 

Atrimis
Atrimis

I love my Vita, but it came up short only because of the memory card. They're like 4 times more expensive than micro SD cards. If they'd just made it accept Micro SD cards, then the systems would fly off the shelves.

archlvt
archlvt

Seriously they're blaming mobile gaming?  Maybe they can explain to us why the 3ds is still thriving, an avalanche of sales then.  Mobile gaming still exists in Nintendo's world and it hasn't stopped them.

sharpshooter188
sharpshooter188

@archlvt  Kids typically don't have smart phones. Or at least good ones. 3Ds is prime for them I suppose. A lot of cartoony like games.

Brando008
Brando008

Just bought a vita a week ago and I'm loving every second I get to play it. There is a plethora of great indie gems, some fantastic bigger games (still don't agree with the harsh reviews over BL2, as it's a great port considering the limitations), and to top it off there is a healthy amount of quality Japanese games (P4, Danganronpa, Zero Escape, and the inbound Freedom Wars). I seriously hope Sony starts marketing the Vita beyond the appeal of remote play (which is still awesome). 

feraldrgn
feraldrgn

Mistake number 1, saying it was a "console" (PS3) in your pocket.
Mistake number 2, initially trying to be too clever with their TV advertisements.

Mistake number 3, making proprietary memory cards with maximum profit in mind (any profit is good).

Mistake number 4, telling the audience that there won't be as much 1st party focus on the Vita anymore.

It has quite a lot of great exclusives 1st & 3rd party, why not advertise them?

As for a few criticisms,
you can buy a case or screen shield to protect the screen & (I like & play Nintendo) both the DS & 3DS damage their own screens.
Secondly, how much you play which games on which handheld is all subjective, I play & love my Vita games but it doesn't mean it's better objectively, the same as I grow tired of playing DS/3DS games & struggle to find titles I appreciate.

Case in point, it's slick, it's brilliant to use, pause & resume, flip the game away to close & bam you're straight back to the menu.
I have money to spend so the only criticism I would give it is the back touch has only been useful & nice to use in Tearaway, everywhere else it's awful.

Retroxgamer0
Retroxgamer0

ps vita is a poor portable device, it doesnt even protect its own screen. its only good for around the house, with a wrist strap securely on. also, nobody wants to spend 80 dollars on a proprietary memory card. sony should have kept costs lower.

Atrimis
Atrimis

@Retroxgamer0 Smart phones and tablets don't protect their own screen. I will admit, though, that they were stupid for not just going with a micro SD card as their memory option.

Bubbagum_Bish
Bubbagum_Bish

I bought one almost a year ago now and haven't even put 100 hours on it yet. The 3DS just keeps getting great games while my Vita just sits there collects dust. I'm not saying the Vita doesn't have great games, the 3DS just has games that I'd prefer over most other games.(Smash Bros, Pokemon, Fire Emblem, etc.)

kojack_stewart
kojack_stewart

The PS Vita would most likely have done better if Sony didn't treat it like a damn tablet or phone.  Stop trying to compete with a market you don't belong in!  People bought the PS Vita because they thought you'd make great games for it like you did with the PSP. NOT stupid "indie" games that merely helps us pass the time.  You want to jumpstart your PS Vita GET MONSTER HUNTER BACK FROM NINTENDO!

Jago-Vs-Fulgore
Jago-Vs-Fulgore

I remember waiting and willing to buy a Ps Vita because i was really enjoying Ps3 Twisted metal and was looking forward to remote play.. Sadly a confirmation of it working with my favorite games never made the list of remote play compatible games there for i never bought one. Fyi.. those games to date still has failed to make this list.. lol.. I was going to buy one anyway in hopes that things would TURN UP. So glad i didn't buy one for sure i'd been a paper weight at this point. Sad to see such a well designed powerful device go down the toilet like this. #SegaDreamcast 

Nev3rtime
Nev3rtime

Nintendo just seemed to be putting far more effort into their handheld with so many great exclusive games that justify it as an addition purchase for any serious gamer. With a few notable exceptions the Vita was always billed as a PS3 in your pocket, but less powerful and with a focus on ports of games you'd rather play on home consoles. Maybe it was partly bad marketing, but I own a PSP and DSi. I bought a 3ds but not a Vita and I have no real regrets about that.

surfwalrus
surfwalrus

Ummm its simple...the psp was perfect, it had tons of awesome games, it could play all our ps1 classics we downloaded, and it was dirt cheap. The vita was a cash grab sony thought people wanted. Oh look my ps4/ps3 can link to my vita.....but can only play 1% of the games. The thing I dont get is that there are ps2 classics but neither the vita or psp can play them lol small oversight eh? I got a vita but barely play it, luckily I got it used for $130. If sony makes ALL of its games compatible for remote play on it, then it will see a huge increase because I love being able to play games remotely while my gf watches tv, or take my game with me to the toilet lol

quebec946
quebec946

ps vita could have been an awesome handheld it just sony fault's: like deciding to to make a overpriced exclusive 1st part sd format for ps vita only instead of going micro sd, lack of integred memory storage, overpriced games and not being 3rd party friendly, poor res screen , overpriced handheld lack of 1st party support,unswitchable battery and many other things.......

atopp399
atopp399

Terrible explanation.  Maybe someone should tell him the overall price of the system along with the outrageous price of the memory cards at launch were part of the reason?  Add to that the fact Sony isn't giving resources toward first party games.  Then you have statements like this that pretty much show Sony now thinks of this as a PS4 peripheral and you pretty much have a total failure of a handheld.


The icing on the cake is that the 3DS is killing it in sales and yet they are facing the same challenges Sony is facing from tablets and phones.


Why is this guy employed with Sony again?  His statements make him seem very uneducated and out of touch with the products he is supposed to be selling and supporting.

dkdk999
dkdk999

Well I can tell you straight up why I didn't buy it. You guys didn't allow any emulators to run on it.

Braddick
Braddick

Cut the crap Sony, this is ALL your fault. You overpriced the machine in the beginning and have practically given up first party support for it. This has nothing to do with "mobile gaming", give me a freaking break.


Dark-Exsphere
Dark-Exsphere

Vita user base = small
making games for vita = costly

small user base = low sales

low sales = less games.

If sony made more first party games and showed some legit support like they are for PS4 where games like Bloodborne, 1984 are being made the Vita user base might rise.

i got rid of my white assassins creed vita because AC Liberations is on PC.... Dragons crown is on ps3.... the only other game for it i had was Uncharted Drakes Fortune which is something i can miss out on.

93ChevyNut
93ChevyNut

It's been stated before that the Vita lacks games and that's absolutely true.  But I think there is a little validity to blaming the phone and tablet gaming market. It's not that they're direct competitors to the Vita, but the mentality about mobile software has shifted.  When the app store originally came out, the majority of those games cost no more than $0.99.  

Since then, many phone and tablet games have adopted the free 2 play model and people aren't even willing to shell out $0.99 for a game (even though their double mocha frappucino cost them $5).  Even though Vita owners aren't expecting $0.99 AAA games, it's hard to ask someone to shell out $40 for a half-a$$ed AAA game.

I hope Borderlands 2 changes that.

maniaxe613
maniaxe613

Here's what I don't understand: It is easier to control some games with a digital pad than with a touch-screen and a perfect example is fighting games.  It is a lot easier to control a fighting game with a digital pad than a touch screen.  Most smartphones don't have a digital pad and the touch digital pads are very difficult to control.  I should also mention that the PSVita has graphics that are far superior than any smartphone on the market right now.  And not only that, but it has a much longer battery life than most smartphones.  So why would people stick with a smartphone and tablet and forget about the PSVita, the more superior gaming system?

daviz88
daviz88

i'm with you 100% . i think what turned people off initially was the price, hence hindering its sales and greatly reducing third party support because developer won't support a system that isn't selling similar to what is happening to PC. sad tough because its an impressive gaming platform

jmartin1016
jmartin1016

The Vita is the best gaming system ever. It's a shame that people believe it to be overpriced. It's not. It's worth every penny.

daviz88
daviz88

people fail to understand the better the quality the higher price. 

graigsmith
graigsmith

the problem is 1 fold.   GAMES!!  not enough games.   i want to play more aaa games on the vita.  borderlands 2 is a good start.  whenever they get around to it.   


make skyrim happen. make fallout 3 happen.  more games like this.   


Mobile games are not the problem. Theres already a ton of mobile fad games. yeah crappy mobile games are selling a ton of 1 dollar games.   but no ones going to pick up a vita for a ton of 1 dollar crap games.   they need to get more really compelling games on this system.  by compelling.  i mean the experience has to be better or equal than old games on the ps3. 


why buy a portable gaming console?  because when your on the road and flying to some hotel, it's kind of ridiculous to throw a ps3 in your suitcase.  now put the ps3/ps4 games on the vita.  it's that simple.

reefernet
reefernet

I've had my ps vita for over a year now and it's the best handheld device EVER in my opinion. Beautiful oled screen great interface runs relevant apps like Netflix YouTube ect.

Fits really well into the playstation ecosystem. Not something I would compare to an android gaming device bc the games are way better just doesn't have the wide variety of games compared to a 3DS but the games look really good and play surprisingly well. Unfortunately it's been pretty much overlooked and people seem to be badly misinformed about how good this piece of hardware really is.

Sure it's got it's shortcomings and yes I agree the memory cards are way too expensive, but 200$ Is too much ??? That's half the price of a cell phone and 1/3 of the price of an iPad. I think people are just complain too much and expect sony to perform miracles. They deserve more credit than this.

jordanlund
jordanlund

The problem is two fold and it really has nothing to do with mobile gaming:


1) Sony is pushing digital titles that are not unique to the Vita. People need a reason to open their wallets and hand over $200, when they research the Vita and see mostly the exact same games they can already play on the devices they already own then that's not an incentive to buy new hardware. Sony stated that there's already an effective 1:1 relationship between Vita owners and PS3 owners, why buy new hardware to play games you can already play on the PS3?


2) The dark side of digital titles is a lack of titles on retail shelves. People still buy the hardware in stores. When they go to the store, they see the same shelf of stale games that have been sitting there for more than a year. Are there new games? Sure there are, barely a half dozen or so in the past year, for the retailers bothering to stock the new titles.


The way Sony can fix this is actually pretty easy - they need custom game branded PSN cards to deliver to retailers at no charge. These will work just like the PSN points cards they have now except they are for specific titles and are branded for that title.


It will make it seem as though the Vita got a bunch of new content overnight and it might entice people to buy digital titles that they may not already be aware of.

tightwad34
tightwad34

Okay. Why does the 3DS not have to say the same thing? Think about it Sony. It sounds like the Vita won't be able to give the 3DS any sort of real competition which is fine by me. All I need is my PS3(soon to be PS4) and the 3DS.

daviz88
daviz88

can you explain why its sony's fault

igorphoenix
igorphoenix

@daviz88 they made what on paper seemed like an ultimate portable platform and then f**ked it up with lack of support. Don't get me wrong, I love my Vita but let's be honest - there aren't too many games on it, let alone exclusives.

I got mine to play Persona 4 Golden but there aren't that many people who would buy console for one game.

I can understand the lack of third-party support - too low user base for budget. But that's where Sony failed - they should've give Vita that initial push with some great first-party exclusives. It has nothing to do with tablet gaming.

3DS had a rough start too with much less advanced hardware, and some questionable design choices, but Nintendo kept making games for it and eventually it payed off.

igorphoenix
igorphoenix

@daviz88 the other issue was the price - 400$ (300 for vita and another 100 for memory card) is way too much for portable (you could get 500GB PS3 for $300 at the time)

tightwad34
tightwad34

@daviz88  It's not Sony's fault. I am a Playstation guy over Xbox(though I don't have any hate for Xbox). But the 3DS just has so many more good games or just games in general and it is or was so far ahead of the Vita, but look at the problems the 3DS had at first and where it is now. There's no telling the Vita can't do the same.

Takeno456
Takeno456

Kind of sounds like the blame game to me.

StokeMeAClipper
StokeMeAClipper

I bought the PSP close to launch. One problem for me was that my lifestyle didn't really call for it, though I was really impressed with it as a piece of hardware.

The biggest problem I found was how uncomfortable it was to use and the poor analogue control. They made games which were basically scaled down PS2 games, but for me the poor ergonomics and controls spoiled the experience.

I personally think if they had either designed the games with d-pad controls in mind and ditched the analogue nub or, made it less pocket friendly but with better controls, bigger battery and possibly even a larger screen, it would have been a better device. Either way, they should have put more thought into the ergonomics, even if it meant plugging into an attachment (preferably with a full sized analogue stick). I bought a Thrustmaster battery grip for it and while that improved it, it was still not great and did nothing to address the horrible little analogue nub.

My friend has a Vita. While the Vita has much better analogue sticks, it still feels uncomfortable and a little imprecise to use. Like I suggested with the PSP, I think they should have offered a means to plug it into a larger attachment with full sized controls. That way, if portability is more important to you, you can leave it as is. On the other hand if the experience is more important, you would be able to fit the attachment (with the trade-off of having to carry more with you).

TheMatrixCBC
TheMatrixCBC

Not for nothin', but my Vita sits largely unused.  The vast majority of the games I want to play on it, I've had to import from Japan, while the a good percentage of the other games I use it for are PS1 games.  Frankly, it hasn't been at all worth the money.  Every game I've purchase, aside from the still unlocalized "Tales of" series have been unimpressive, at best.

And it's amazing that this guy draws a parallel between tablet/mobile gaming and PS Vita.  Funny, I have an iPad and an Android, but when it comes to playing portable games, I pick up one of my several 3DS systems.  It's been two years, Sony - get on the freakin' ball.

Silverline62
Silverline62

Yeah well....they have to put the blame on someone else, its not like the Vita completely lacks must-have games....

dethtrain
dethtrain

Proprietary memory cards and the prices were the sole reason I didn't buy this. I've got my old PSP 3000 though. Supposedly a vita / PS4 bundle is coming out. If the price is right I might get one

coodyb
coodyb

Vita's problem? It's too good with too many expensive parts so they were forced to set the price too high for today's market. Then add the fact Sony went with the ridiculous decision to charge insulting prices for its memory cards and to a lesser extent it's games. Coupled with the fact they have all but abandoned it where marketing and advertising is concerned to the extent that non core gamers still think I'm playing a PSP when I'm on the train.

The BS excuse that is now so tired it's getting very annoying, that Vita has no games is simply not true and it's never been true. Vita launched with a ton of exclusive games and there's now countless games for it.

jark888
jark888

Upgrade cameras and reduce memory card pricing, then I'm in to get one for myself. By the way, one more thing, allow generic power bank to charge the system too.

SacredGray
SacredGray

1. Phone / tables are not competing with the Vita. Hardly the same demographic.
2. The thing's just way too expensive, especially its memory cards.

XNEXUS666X
XNEXUS666X

They should have tried to make it a portable PS3, where you could continue your console games on the go, what it turned out to be was a lesser grade PS3 that was bound to crap exclusives. I haven't touched mine for months, time to sell it.

jZangetsu21
jZangetsu21

Sony blames smartphones and tablets for Vita failure. Um...ok then stop screwing yourself over by also making Sony brand tablets and smartphones geniuses.


Seriously though, they can't blame it on that. What's the excuse for the Nintendo handhelds then? They are doing very well.

Overlord_Meril
Overlord_Meril

Really? It's smartphones? That logic should apply to Nintendo too. Oh, but you say they have a bunch of excellent games, so it doesn't count? Hmmmmm.

Sndewey
Sndewey

No it came up short because of a lack of exclusive worthy titles for the device, I think a lot of gamers would love a vita if they had a reason to buy one that being said I'm going to buy one my next pay check along with a PS4 so I got somthibg to play on it with the remote play feature, if that is the only use I get out of my vita than screw you guys.

XxXDarkness0XxX
XxXDarkness0XxX

honestly think handheld gaming systems are dead... besides the Nintendo because of the little kids and pokemon games other then that its crap, do you realllly need to bring games everywhere you go?  

Silverline62
Silverline62

@XxXDarkness0XxX There are people that have to bring their phone everywhere they go. Dont tell me you don~t have a phone and that you never played anything on-the-go because I would have to call you an hypocritical idiot.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@XxXDarkness0XxX  

"besides the Nintendo because of the little kids and pokemon games other then that its crap" Gotta love that ignorance.


Search up any Pokemon X/Y launch video on youtube and you'll see dozens to hundreds of adults lined up with barely any kids. Also I distinctly remember GameSpot naming a 3DS title as GOTY, on GameTrailers, the 3DS had the most nominees for GOTY and was named "Best software lineup of 2013." 


Whatever if you don't like it, but its success is hardly because of Pokemon and "the little kids." 

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Silverline62 

Oh, so you believe that if someone has a mobile device, that person would be playing games on it? That's quite the generalization.