The Vita’s troubles aren’t a secret to anyone, but this is a huge sign that the struggling handheld is in need of some serious help. In Japan, where the PSP has historically outsold even the Xbox 360, Sony’s Vita is struggling to find a foothold. This previous week, the main system’s competitor, Nintendo’s 3DS, outsold the system 47-to-1. In layman’s terms, that not good.
Most of the trouble comes from the system’s lack of games. 21 3DS games appeared in the top 50 charts in Japan, whereas the Vita doesn’t have a single one. 16 PSP games also made the list. On the hardware side of things, the 3DS sold 187,077 units, while the Vita sold a meager 4,021. This is in part due to the release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on 3DS.
What will it take to sell the Vita, not only in Japan, but across the world? The obvious answer is games, which the Vita clearly does not have. A new Call of Duty may appeal to some audiences, but low review scores won’t help the system’s cause. Irrational Games is still reportedly planning a game “set in the Bioshock universe”, but the company is more interested in finishing Bioshock Infinite first, and has even considered outsourcing development. Surprisingly, we haven’t heard anything of a Monster Hunter coming to Vita, as the series is what helped drive PSP sales in the East. It will take something massive to get Vita doing well. It isn’t cross-play, it isn’t halfway done shooters or PS3 games dumped onto the system. If Sony wants the Vita to succeed, they need to stop repeating the PSP’s mistakes and look at the handheld market as a whole. I want the Vita to do well- it has more than enough potential. But if Sony doesn’t feel the same way, then it may become just an expensive footnote in gaming history.