Sony never officially said the PlayStation Vita would get a worldwide launch this year, only ever really committing to a Japanese launch. "Phased global rollout" was the textbook buzzword Sony used.
But we believed because it made sense. How could Sony not put the PlayStation Vita out in all major markets before Christmas? The Nintendo 3DS has been in stores worldwide for a long time, and while it's failed to tear up the hardware charts, recent announcements coming out of Nintendo regarding pricing and marketing suggest that the system's weeks away from catching fire. I'm fully expecting Nintendo to tear up the charts this holiday.
The PlayStation Vita needed to be part of the equation. It needed to be on store-shelves competing. And that's why I always believed Sony was being coy when it failed to commit to a true worldwide launch. "Of course it's going to be out this year," I told myself. "It has to be."
But business reports hitting the web this morning have confirmed the opposite. PlayStation Vita will not be out in the US nor Europe until 2012. Japan, however, will get the device before Christmas. And that's the part of the announcement that confuses me the most.
Everything Sony's shown of the PlayStation Vita thus far has had a Western appeal. Uncharted does fine in Japan, but it's a huge name in the West. The same is true of Wipeout and Super StarDust. Even new titles such as Little Deviants and Reality Fighters have a much more Western look to them. I'm not sure how they're going to fare in Japan.
Granted, games such as Everybody's Golf and Gravity Daze are likely to draw a lot of support in Japan, but they're certainly not the Asian equivalents of Uncharted.
In the mean-time, PSP continues to be at the pinnacle of the Japanese market. It regularly outsells the PS3, Wii, DS and even Nintendo's latest device, the 3DS. And the PSP does have a stand out title this year — Final Fantasy Type-0. That game alone is likely to push PSP through the roof during the final months of the year.
So Sony is essentially competing with itself. It'll be interesting to see whether the PlayStation Vita — without targeted software — can compete with the cheaper PSP with Final Fantasy. Sony is cannibalizing itself.
Admittedly, the company might have an ace up its sleeve. TGS is just around the corner, and we imagine a Monster Hunter Vita announcement would push Sony's platform to the forefront of everything in Japan. But if the platform holder is going to start banging the drum about Uncharted and Wipeout in the region, I'll remain confused.
Those games are Western titles, and will do well in a Western market. A Western market, I might add, where the PSP is flailing further into obscurity.
There's still some hope — the Vita might miss out on Christmas in the US and Europe, but a January or February release is still perfectly possible, meaning the wait will likely be short. But that Christmas period is so important. It's a time when consumers around the world go crazy and plump up for expensive devices just like the PlayStation Vita. Just being part of the equation is massively important.
No doubt about it, the 3DS is going to build up an untouchable lead this holiday. I hope it's not all at the expense of tradition and pleasing a local market that's more than satisfied with Sony's current handheld output.
Its rumoured that Twiggy has spent the past several months touring with avant-garde dance troupe Cirque Du Soleil. The anonymous PushSquare columnist is still on the run from the British monarchy on account of treason. Twiggy was last sighted eating an Asda branded ham and cheese sandwich in Grimsby.