PlayStation Vita has been rejuvenating itself with a slimmer body and the connectivity with its big brother PlayStation 4. The slimmer version of PlayStation Vita was released in Japan in October 2013. The sales numbers of PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Vita Slim in Japan has been great since the launch. Despite being much more expensive than Nintendo’s counterparts, it sold really well throughout the holiday season. Today Sony announced that the PlayStation Vita Slim will be released in the UK on February 7, and pre-orders are being taken now.
The original PlayStation Vita launched in Japan on December 17, 2011. Although it was critically acclaimed by game pundits and gamers, the sales numbers were relatively dismal. At one point, it sold about 4,000 units in one week in Japan; in comparison, Nintendo sold about 12.7 million units of the 3DS or 244,000 units per week in 2012.
The major reasons for meager sales for the PlayStation Vita were its high price, the rise of tablet and smartphone gaming, and the lack of blockbuster games often called “killer apps” among hardcore players. Casual players were flocking to smartphones as their choice of gaming platform when they could do so many things with smartphone while the PlayStation Vita was a standalone machine designed only for gaming. Also, there were no killer apps that could make the PlayStation Vita a must-buy gaming console. Meanwhile, Nintendo was churning out blockbuster games one after another, all based on its strong brands such as Super Mario and Zelda. Within the business circle, the PlayStation Vita was labeled as one of the biggest “flops” of 2012. However, Sony was determined to stay on with its only portable gaming machine and found its new usage in 2013 and beyond.
When Sony announced the PlayStation 4 and its functionality, it mentioned that a player can play PS4 games with using the PlayStation Vita as a secondary screen. The company also announced various updates to the original PlayStation Vita, which lacked some modern standard features such as internal storage. These announcements were followed by more leaks on its functional connectivity with the PlayStation 4 and slimmer body design, the PlayStation Vita almost instantly rejuvenated itself as the 2013’s most-anticipated machine. Sony also introduced the PlayStation Vita TV that allows players to play their games on TV whenever they want. Lastly, Sony released several highly anticipated games that fully utilized new features in the PlayStation Vita Slim. God Eater 2, which fully uses the PlayStation Vita TV, was awarded during the Japan Game Awards 2013 during the Tokyo Game Show.
With the UK release on February 7, Sony is more cautious than before with expanding markets for the PlayStation Vita Slim. It is likely that Sony is staggering the release of the PlayStation Vita Slim to assess the reception in each region and actual sales number before it decides to release into another market; in contrast, Sony released the PlayStation 4 to most of major markets within a month of the North America launch date on November 15, 2013. There is still no announcement on the North American release date for the PlayStation Vita Slim.
After years of failure with PlayStation Vita, Sony appears to have learned its lessons and is pressing all the right buttons for now, while its main competitor in the portable gaming, Nintendo, is going through some difficult times. By implementing small tweaks like slim body to the PlayStation Vita and introducing a useful connectivity to the PlayStation 4 to its other consoles, Sony may have also rejuvenated itself.
By Jonathan JY Jung