The Playstation Vita handheld system, unveiled at E3 last year, went on sale just before the holidays in Japan. It saw serious sales: around 325,000 units (500,000 by Sony’s reckoning) were sold in its opening week. Naturally numbers tend to drop after the initial rush, and the next week saw healthy sales of around 72,000. But The numbers kept decreasing, and it is now reported that for the week ending January 15, the new device sold only 18,361 units, not including online sales. That’s less than the PSP.
Other games systems like the 3DS and Wii also saw big drops in the post-holiday season, but for a brand new system like the Vita to drop to sub-20,000 numbers so quickly isn’t a good sign.
Could it be a lack of quality games, something that hamstrung the 3DS’s early days? Or perhaps people are waiting on the inevitable bundles when the device makes its debut in the US with high-profile titles like Uncharted?
Whatever the case is, it’s still too early to be calling the Vita a loser. The fact is it has a lot going for it, and it’s a long play by Sony, not a cash-in. The PS3 was slow to take off, and is now intermittently leading console sales. In two years, will the Vita be topping the 3DS? Or will it have the same fate as the PSP, simply not recognized as a mainstream gaming machine? I hope that’s not the case, because the Vita has more potential than the 3DS to be a mainstream gaming device.
February 22nd is the date to look forward to. It may be that the US launch will reinvigorate the flagging handheld, but really it won’t be until later in the year when buying habits have returned to normal that we can draw any conclusions.