In a move that’s been on the cards for over a year now, Sony has announced that it will slash the price of the PlayStation Vita from 28th February in Japan. The unexpected revelation was made during a surprise press conference overnight, in which the platform holder also showcased a batch of upcoming software for the struggling handheld. But is the initiative enough to resurrect the platform’s fortunes, or is it simply too late?
Japan is easily the most important region for dedicated handhelds, so it’s no surprise that the manufacturer decided to act there first. Following a string of shrewd business decisions from Nintendo, the 3DS has been left to dominate the region over the past 18 months, with the Vita left out in the cold. Something needed to change, and bringing the system within the same price range as its closest competitor is certainly a good start.
It’s the timing of the discount that’s arguably most important, though. Ever since the system’s launch, its software catalogue has been criticised for being far too Western-centric – but that’s about to change. The price drop coincides with the release of Phantasy Star Online 2 in the region, while Soul Sacrifice – arguably the system’s biggest local launch to date – follows just seven days later. The combination will almost certainly prompt a surge in the region, but it’s important that the momentum is maintained.
It will need a solid string of software to achieve that, and thankfully there are a number of releases in the pipeline. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus, Tales of Hearts R, and One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 are all due out within the next couple of months, with the likes of God Eater 2, Final Fantasy X HD, and Dragon’s Crown on the horizon. But we’re still not convinced that it’s enough. The problem is that these are all either ports of games available elsewhere, or multiplatform releases. The handheld needs exclusive titles that it can hang its metaphorical hat on, and sadly none of the above fit into that.
Last night’s announcements were positive, there’s no question about that. But the Vita is not saved, and it still faces an uncertain future in its most important territory. The good news is that the console’s moving in the right direction – let’s hope that it continues to follow the same path.
What else do you think that Sony needs to do to strengthen the Vita in Japan? How much of an impact do you think that the price-cut will have? Let us know in the comments section below.