It’s a strange time for the PlayStation Vita. Sales of the handheld system aren’t anywhere near as high as the hardware arguably deserves, but there have been signs in Japan that the device is really starting to pick up speed. Furthermore, while the install base is admittedly low, the attach rate is reportedly uncharacteristically high, evidencing Sony’s own statements that the portable is a well-loved platform despite its disappointing sales.
For industry analyst Michael Pachter, though, the positive news is outweighed heavily by the negative – and he thinks that the format is going to fade out as a result. “Vita is a little bit too elegant and a little too expensive,” he told Game Informer. “I always feel like I'm going to break it. But then it has relatively few games because they are complicated to make and the market is so small. You’re just going to see it die a slow, painful death.”
Pachter believes that the portable is too high-end for the market, with many preferring smartphones to dedicated devices – and he doesn’t believe that the compatibility with the PlayStation 4 via Remote Play will solve anything. “I don't quite get it,” he admitted, adding that while the features are “cool”, he doesn’t really see the off-screen play as a selling point. “I think that most people who have competing concerns about the use of the console versus watching TV have their console on a different TV.”
So, what’s the future of Sony’s handheld business? There isn’t one, according to Pachter. “I just think that they misjudged the size of the market and launched it into this storm of mobile destroying the casual end of dedicated handhelds. And Nintendo's not giving up much share on the hardcore side, because they have three games to every one Sony game, and they are good games.” Feeling depressed yet?
In truth, it’s hard to really argue with the suit’s sentiments – but we still have some hope that the handheld’s rabid fanbase will continue to be supplied with software for the foreseeable future. Given that the release schedule is starting to look a bit meatier these days, publishers are clearly seeing opportunities on the system, even if they’re not enormous ones. It may not have the brightest future ahead of it, then, but we don’t think that a “slow, painful death” is quite on the cards.