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PS Vita ‘Risks Major Failure’

by William Schwartz

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The recent announcement of the forthcoming price drop for Nintendo’s 3DS handheld definitely threw a wrench into the plans for the PS Vita, well at least into the outlooks from some gaming analysts.  With Sony’s PS Vita getting set to launch in Japan later this year, and worldwide in early 2012, some tend to think that for Sony to have success with the handheld they’ll need to lower the price of entry.  It’s debatable at this point what has caused Nintendo’s 3DS to see lackluster sales in its short lifespan, but many believe that the increased competition from other mobile devices such as the iphone/ipod touch/and ipad have a big role in this declining demand for gaming centric handhelds.

Analysts seem to be split on the fate of the Vita’s success at this point.  Hideki Yasuda of Ace Securities Co, believes that Sony will indeed need to slash prices or risk “major failure”.

“Gamers are increasingly anticipating Sony to lower prices, especially after the 3DS cut,” said Hideki Yasuda, a Tokyo-based analyst at Ace Securities Co. “Sony is under major pressure to cut the price of the Vita or risk a major failure.” the analyst told Bloomberg.

Right now, Sony plans to launch the next generation of their family of handhelds in multiple models with differing price points that correlate with popular features.  The core PS Vita will start at $249.99 with a 3G version of the device available for $299.99 as well.  Hitting the open market at $249.99, Sony will be in the same predicament that Nintendo was in just a few short months ago.  The PS Vita is no doubt a powerful machine.  The handheld boasts graphics that rival Sony’s home console, and a feature set that is sure to have gamers of all walks salivating at the potential for the device.  Sony is also confident in these features and Kaz Hirai tends to disagree with the analyst.

Hirai, who also spoke with Bloomberg about the recent price cut from his competitor told them:

“We have a very good product at a very affordable price,” Hirai said. “There’s no need to lower the price just because somebody else that happens to be in the video game industry decided they were going to.”

Echoing this sentiment, not all gaming analysts believe that Sony faces failure with the PS Vita.  Some recognize that Sony is attempting to go after a target consumer who is willing to fork over the extra costs because of the inherent benefits and features that the PS Vita comes equipped with.

“The customers Sony is targeting with its Vita are those willing to spend a lot of money,” an analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc. told Bloomberg. “That’s a valid strategy even if the volume’s low as long as it can sustain the higher price.”

Regardless of the marketing strategies, most consumers are going to have to make tough decisions going forward.  With a lower and more easy to swallow price point, the 3DS is going to be looking awfully good to consumers that are in the market for a handheld gaming device.  Sony which faced a similar problem with launching the PlayStation 3 at an exorbitant $600 price point saw many passing on the opportunity to own the home gaming console in lieu of less expensive and comparable alternatives like the Xbox 360.

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