CRank: 20Score: 0

For The Greater Good

I must start by saying this will be an unpopular position that, I expect, will get some backlash. With that in mind I believe the Vita needs to die to bring greater prosperity to Sony. Before you go down into the comment section to prove how wrong I am here me out. But before I explain my view point we must first look at where the Vita and handheld gaming is right now.

The Vita has struggled ever since it graced the market. In Japan sales dropped by 78% in its second week on the market [1] and it dropped further in subsequent weeks [2]. In recent times the Vita has picked some traction but this traction hasn’t been an event worth celebrating. Shuhei Yoshida had an interview with Polygon back in June about the future of the PlayStation Vita. In this interview Yoshida was asked if there will be less first party in the future of which Yoshida responded "I would say, yes, that's correct" [3]. This caused a huge raucous amongst the gaming community; some hailing the death of the PlayStation Vita and other directing their anger at Sony for the lack of support. Yoshida clarified what he meant in an interview with GameReactor, “The question I was asked was, ‘going forward, [will] the number of first party will be smaller?’, and I said ‘yes, number of projects will be smaller.’ I never said we won’t make any games on PS Vita” [4]. What Yoshida said makes a lot of sense. Currently, the sale figures of the PlayStation Vita is unknown since Sony lumps its PSP and Vita figures together but the, ever unreliable site, VGChartz sits the Vita at around 8.6 million units [5].

Sony has a done a lot of restructuring even since Kazuo Hirai became CEO of Sony Corporation in a battle to plug the holes that are bleeding the ship dry. They have sold their PC business to Japan Industrial Partners [6] and they have spun off their TV business [7]. Sony has also done a lot to streamline services ever since the PS3 started to struggle. Back in 2010 PlayStation Plus was launched and ever since then it has become a very popular [8] and profitable [9] service. The whole service is an indication about bringing platforms together (with Vita, PS3 and PS4 support under one monthly fee). Sony recently took the PlayStation brand one step further with the announcement of PlayStation Now [10] and the on demand box PlayStation TV (though PS Vita TV in Japan) [11].

The problem is this progression has left the Vita in a vulnerable place. The system seems to have relegated to a cross buy/remote play device for the PS4. This isn’t such a bad position to be in but this position could best be served by a better product; which is Sony’s Xperia line. The Xperia line has been quite profitable for Sony. This profitability is especially noticeable for the months of April till June of last year where Sony saw $3.8 billion in revenue [12]. Despite the profitability the sale numbers are a lot lower than Samsung and Apple (see [12]). But Sony could out maneuver these companies by bringing remote play and PS Now to their Xperia line. PS Now on Smartphones has already been confirmed by Sony when they unveiled the service [13] but little talk has been made about remote play appearing on the Xperia line. I feel the reason for this, and the reason why PS Now is taking a long time to appear on mobile devices, is because of the Vita.

I feel the Vita is holding back Sony’s progression as Sony will not want to take another feature away from a system they are trying to save. But is this really the best route for Sony as a company. They anticipate their Xperia line to rise by 28% [14] but this rise could be further boosted by taking features away from the Vita. The PlayStation 4 has been well received with recent figures showing it has sold over 9 million units [15]. The Vita saw a bump as well which was put down to the PS4 [16]. The issue is the Vita is still an unattractive device for many and it really has not held much ground against the 3DS which has shipped around 44 million units [17]. The PS4 momentum could be best used in promoting Sony’s more attractive products, like the Xperia line, as it could be used as a Trojan Horse to sway more users away from Apple and in particular Samsung (who have the Android image down to a tee).

No smart phone or tablet manufacture currently has the capability to do what I am proposing in a meaningful way nor does any other console manufacture. Microsoft has the best opportunity as they have already looked into streaming services [18] and also they have a mobile ecosystem they need to push [19][20]. But this isn’t something that can be released quickly (see PlayStation Now) and they have never talked about remote play. The PS3 suffered from remote play issues because it never was built with that in mind which was corrected for the PS4. Bringing meaningful remote play would be difficult for Microsoft. It is also next to impossible for Nintendo to make such a move. Nintendo enjoys the high life of the mobile gaming market and shows a reluctance to move away from this. They also have no smart phone/tablet products/ecosystems to help promote such a move. In a nutshell Sony is in the best position to make this happen.

This is why I feel the Vita needs to take the fall. Without it I suspect these moves would have already been made. Sony is in a unique position they must not squander. They need to move away from the mobile gaming market now and capitalise on their PlayStation brand.


The story is too old to be commented.
randomass1711394d ago

I can't say that I want to agree with this and that's mostly because the Vita hasn't been given a software lineup that really takes advantage of it. But a lot of your points are valid as the Vita seems to be pushed as a companion device and not a standalone handheld. The Playstation TV seems closer to Sony's vision for what they wanted and that is clearly a more dedicated competitor for Apple TV and Google TV and even goes in tandem with Sony's other products. That all said, there are still roughly over 8 million people with Vitas who should not just be abandoned. Yoshida's position on Vita support was not the most uplifting, but business wise it could be Sony's best move if they are serious about game streaming and PS4 appeal. Good blog.

SonyPS41394d ago

Sony needs to keep supporting the Vita for a few more years before they drop out the mobile gaming market...a little fan service and what not. Pulling the plug now would only hurt Sony further than they already have by admitting to support it less.

I've said this years ago on somewhere else that the Vita may be Sony's last handheld. Between the predecessor's poor software sales/high piracy rate, PSVita's poor hardware and software sales, a good percentage of the somewhat small library of retail games being mediocre ports and spinoffs of console franchises, overpriced memory cards still to this very day, and the constant re-purposing of the system from being a portable PS3 to a PS4 companion accessory and finally to a streaming box competitor, things are pointing to Sony dropping out of the handheld business after the Vita had run its course.

SilentNegotiator1393d ago (Edited 1393d ago )

Yeah, if they just kill it, it will leave a bad taste in a lot of mouths. They will have burned their bridges in creating handheld systems, even if they decide to make a new one 10 years from now (it will still have a bad stigma). Even future CONSOLES could be affected; if they don't launch as successfully as PS4, people will think "how do I know Sony won't just kill it off if sales don't pick up?"

Nicaragua1394d ago

I think Sony should release a phone with a large touchscreen and a separate (reasonably priced) add on controller shell that gives it all the functionality of a vita.

If the phone is a decent handset then people will buy it and then maybe buy the add on, vita fans will buy it anyway.

iamnsuperman1394d ago

That already have a line of phone that does that (I believe it is the ultra Xperia version but don't quote. E on that). All the really need is a clip case that puts a DualShock and the phone together because all Xperia phones support the DualShock 3

Nicaragua1394d ago

Im thinking more of a vita shaped shell that you slot your phone into to provide the screen, processing, and controls.

Although i think you are correct in that certain phones can use a DS3 i dont think its particularly practical for mobile gaming to carry a lumpy DS3 around in my coat pocket.

rainslacker1393d ago (Edited 1393d ago )

You offer many well linked references to set up your argument, but the jist of your arguments are all opinion and assumption and presumption. What's worse is that the reasoning for your actual opinions on the reasons are woefully lacking in long term appreciation of what Sony has in PSNow. You briefly reference profitability, yet you offer no evidence that the Vita line is not profitable, or what Sony's projected revenue/profits are for the system, particularly when it comes to the extension of of the Vita line with PlayStationTV. The most I've ever seen on this subject is that Sony's projections were not met, and they lowered predictions a couple quarters in a row...which has nothing to do with if a product is profitable, although to be fair, the chances for that are slim.

Anyhow on to some argument dissection.

"but little talk has been made about remote play appearing on the Xperia line. I feel the reason for this, and the reason why PS Now is taking a long time to appear on mobile devices, is because of the Vita."

PS Now has barely just appeared on any device. The beta is only two months old and Sony haven't even figured out the final implementation yet. Sony stopped pushing XPeria as a gaming phone a while ago. It didn't catch on because people don't buy phones to be a gaming device, and the market has gone to touch, not tactile controls. The lack of convenient controls on tablets/phones will delay it's adoption there, as it will likely only be feasible in conjunction with a VitaTV type setup when the user is at home. That may change in the future, but PSNow has to become a thing first. It's the same argument as a system doesn't sell because it has no games, but it has no games because it doesn't sell. PSNow however gives them a huge catalog of games so the argument is null.

Sony has barely talked about all the devices that Sony will offer PSNow on. So far, we know PS3/4, Vita, and some Sony branded smart TV's. We assume it will come to phones/tablets and other smart devices. It's only logical given what Sony's said about the service. What's more is that I feel that the VitaTV line will ultimately help PSNow reach a larger audience, that will include smart phones. Sony has no reason to limit PSNow to the XPeria line, so when it gets that far they will want to make it desirable enough to run on any phone made nowadays to some degree, which is entirely possible, and in fact the biggest appeal to PSNow...which is device independance. Sony and the publishers will make more that way...which is what they want.

Sony creating another phone OS to run PSNow is counter-intuitive to the idea of what PSNow is about. Sony trying to create yet another phone OS is only going to muddle the market, and is the exact opposite of what they should be doing. Phone OS war is already bloated, and in some ways worse than the console war. Sony would be much better served pushing PSNow, than trying to become a player in the OS market. To push it to great success means they need it available everywhere.

Cont in reply:

rainslacker1393d ago

To turn this argument around, imagine when VitaTV takes off, which it's likely to do, imagine when Sony comes out with the Xperia line that can work exactly like a Vita, which is entirely possible given how the Vita is already built. It's a merging of markets, which I dare say is where long term success for mobile gaming will come from. Even Nintendo's handheld popularity is going to fade as smartphones continue to get better. Right now, Sony is the only company poised to be able to offer an actual gaming platform within a phone, with it's own handheld gaming history. And what's best for Sony here is that it doesn't matter who makes the phone. The software will be there, the revenue will come. It's long term thinking, and is what companies like Sony have to do in order to not be left behind.

In the end, Sony absolutely has to continue with their portable line in order to keep it's handheld gaming presence. It's vitally important to achieve success with becoming a major player with phone/tablet gaming. What's even more important to their success is that data plans are going to become faster, and Sony right now is the only company that has the infrastructure to deliver AAA games to those phones without a lot of hassle, and are the only company that have the hardware to deliver 1000's of games already created to those phone/tablet users, and in the end, that is what is going to make publishers flock to them initially so they end up becoming the best known name for that type of service. Vita dying now will not change that. It will neither help or hinder. Vita's place only keeps Sony in the game so people don't forget that they do handheld as well.

Anyhow, I really don't feel that the Vita's existance takes away from the Xperia(or other companies offerings) at all. If anything, it's the other way around.

iamnsuperman1393d ago (Edited 1393d ago )

I link the articles to remove any issue of factually inaccuracy and not because as a method to support my own opinion. For example when I make a statement about PS Plus being profitable and popular I need to back that up with something since it can come across as wild conjecture.

First I know PS Now has only just appeared but the service will come to phones, and other devices, as Sony has already confirmed this. My argument is it has and probably will take a long time to appear on phones. PS Now doesn't require another OS that can muddle the market. Smart phones come will bloat wear since manufacturs take the basic Android form and add/remove whatever they want. It is a reason why different Android phones feel and act differently. Sony phones have their own app store along side google play (freely downloaded from the web).

Also I know the Xperia has been pushed as a gaming device before but it didn't get the phone part right at all. Now it has. Also all Sony devices support DS3. My Xperia Z and Xperia Z tablet both support it. If you look what Nicaragua suggest is more of bundling it with a token device (only needs a plastic cradle)

You mention merging the Vita and Xperia products to create an all in one device but ignore the cost and preformance ramifications O such a move. The Vita isn't built to be like a phone. If it was it would be a hell of a lot less powerful otherwise it would be far more expensive.

It is worth noting that what I discuss in this blog is the possibility of putting remote play on Xperia phones as it is the last unique feature the Vita has. I honestly believe it is getting in the way of Sony both making a side ways move on a slowly dying market and separates the from the pack in a crowded market

rainslacker1393d ago

Fair enough. But I think I still have a differing take on the whole situation.

It seems to me that Sony is looking extremely long term with PSNow. I have a feeling that most people can not even fathom how much Sony will be pushing PSNow as a content delivery system. The reason I believe this is because it is device independent. The fact they have a phone Sony store and have PSMobile is evidence enough that they have a bigger plan when it comes to content delivery.

As far as merging the markets, it's certainly possible. Vita is two years old now. The tech in cell phones is already becoming more powerful than it, and in some cases is already more powerful. It is certainly possible to put a Vita into a phone case. The VitaTV isn't much bigger than a phone already, and that's mostly because it requires the output ports.

I'm not saying that is definitely what Sony is doing, but I can't imagine that it hasn't gone through their mind. Imagine an XPeria that has full Vita support with PSNow, that has that little pull down controller that one of the original XPeria's have, that can also run android apps, and act as a cell phone. It's the perfect mobile device for a gamer. If successful, it means others will license the tech...obviously after pushing their own half-assed version of it.

What I see is that right now, Vita is sort of in a limbo state. It has an identity crisis and only appeals to what has become a rather small market. The DS is popular, but it appeals to different market...or at least several markets.

I just feel that Sony dropping the Vita to support phone gaming applications instead would be a terrible PR move, and would cost them a lot more in the long run. For the time being, even though the Vita isn't selling well, it is keeping Sony relevant in the mobile market.

iamnsuperman1393d ago (Edited 1393d ago )

I see your point but I feel dropping the Vita isn't a sign of Sony showing support for mobiles instead. Actually combining phones and gaming devices like the way you suggest hints at that more than what I suggest. What I suggest is putting a big feature on their smart phone devices (remote play). As a consequence (especially with how the Vita is being pushed) it would neglecte the need for one. Though I feel Sony should move away from the Vita because I don't think they have the balls to do such a move with a focus on the Vita still being present.

It is more about long term prosperity for Sony. This time around Sony is not relevant in the mobile gaming scene because what they offer isn't what this reducing market wants. I don't think they could ever offer anything tangible (third parties don't want anything to do with the Vita since the market is so much more reduce that supporting unpopular systems is a major risk)

I currently sitting downstairs with my phone and typing this on my tablet. My PS4 is upstairs and my Vita is in my bedroom somewhere (I am not sure it is even charged). I am looking at my Xperia devices, of course fully charged since my phone is attached to me and I do more things on my tablet than my laptop now, and I wonder why can't I play my PS4 games on it. It supports DS3 and it is a capable phone/tablet. Purely for convenience, as a portable device, does it not make sense to have remote play on it. It isn't like it is impossible/unfeasible. It just never will as long as the Vita is there which is a shame since it could help Sony (not just there gaming side; it is a big plus since it doesnt require getting a device that really only games) make a significant impact in a crowded market and offer a solution to a decreasing one.

Combining phones and a Vita could work but people don't want thick phones (comes with devices of this nature) and downloadable content gaming devices historically have never worked (also you basically talk about putting another market place on a smart phone. That is okay but it will not do favours with Google nor does it do favours with Sony since their £20 games would be compared with Google's 69p games regardless of quality differences). What I propose is best of both worlds. Mobile pick up and play content for when your travelling/commuting then more serious stuff when your near wifi or in a more grounded location like your own home (with the latter being essentially what the Wii U offers but with an actual tablet you can do other things with)

MightyNoX1391d ago

I'm not sure what the issue is. In many ways, Sony has abandoned the Vita. They're refusing to supply the demand in the US (even an increase of 50k might have helped, as Abdiel from Neogaf would support), they're no longer wasting precious first-party resources on it and don't spend any marketing money in advertising it.

What else can they do? Kill it?

Right now, all indicators seem to show that the Vita's a nice little sideshow for Sony. Low-risk, low profit kind of thing. It's doing well in Japan (outselling the dedicated consoles), it sells moderately in Europe and has an admirable attach rate and with Sony and Samsung's JOLED deal, their profit margin on Vita's screen may increase.

Ergo, Vita exists in this paradoxical state where it exists and doesn't exist for Sony (schrodinger's handheld?) that outright killing it wouldn't change the landscape that much.

Show all comments (15)