“Is the Vita on life support?” “Will the Vita really die?” It’s fair to say the irony of its name hasn’t been lost on critics of Sony’s portable. Such headlines may be a little premature, but nor are they entirely wide of the mark: twelve months after its Japanese bow, Vita is undeniably struggling, faced with the twin threat of a resurgent 3DS and Apple’s continued dominance of the mobile space.
It all started so promisingly, too. Around 325,000 units were sold in Vita’s first 48 hours on sale in Japan last December: slightly less than 3DS’s 375,000, granted, but given Vita’s position as a premium device – with a game and accessories, many were paying ¥40,000 (£328) for their new console – it was considered a very healthy start.
Second week sales weren’t quite so robust: Vita sales dropped by 77 per cent in the week before Christmas. Not only was it outsold by its forerunner, but, more gallingly, by a ratio of almost 6:1 by its closest rival, Nintendo’s 3DS. By the third week in January sales had dropped to 18,361 units, as Vita reached just over 450,000 sales. In its first month on sale, it had shifted over 40% less than 3DS in its first month, and we needn’t remind you that Nintendo considered its own sales in that time so disastrous that a massive price cut was deemed the only solution. Sony had been selling Vita at a loss since day one: following Nintendo’s example was clearly out of the question.