News Article

This Sony Boss Thinks People See the Vita as Gaming's Equivalent of the iPod

Posted by Kell Andersen

Do they really?

There's no denying that the PlayStation Vita is in a tough position. Our beloved handheld may be doing a roaring trade in Japan, but the rest of the world doesn't seem particularly interested in its rear touchpad and OLED display. Most point the finger at the rapidly expanding mobile market, while others blame a lack of truly compelling advertising. Whatever the case, something must be done to get the struggling portable back on track.

Sony UK's gaffer Fergal Gara believes that the onus for the handheld's poor sales falls squarely in the former category. “The truth is that the number of people that want the core experience [that the Vita offers] is not as big as the number that simply want any sort of game available on the move," he explained in an interview with VG247. “Really, I think that the reason that it hasn’t sold more is that it comes down to people thinking: ‘Do I need it as well as these other things that are taking my money?’”

Interestingly, Gara also noted that while the platform holder plans to push the Vita's compatibility with the PlayStation 4, it's equally concerned that the handheld doesn't get shoehorned into being perceived as purely a companion device. He stressed that it's the Japanese giant's responsibility to "make the message clear to people so that they understand that the Vita is a console in its own right and also a great partner to the PS4".

But arguably the most troubling section of the interview sees the director discussing how he thinks customers view the device. “Compared to the PlayStation 3, the Vita has had a higher percentage of games bought digitally since it was first launched,” Gara continued. "It’s interesting and it demonstrates how many people look at it as the iPod of handheld gaming. More Vita games are still consumed through physical game cards than they are through digital, but things are increasingly moving the other way."

We would argue that this assessment is perhaps a touch ill-advised. To be blunt, we think that the general population probably just sees the iPod as the iPod of handheld gaming. However, it's not too difficult to appreciate the executive's sentiment, especially when it comes to the Vita's stellar digital marketplace. What do you think that Sony needs to do to drum up interest in its flagship portable? Do you think that a stronger focus on the platform's ability to act as a companion to the PS4 would do the trick? Sound off in the comments section below.


User Comments (28)



Xaessya said:

The difference between Vita and iPod is that Vita has games I want to play.




Bizarre statements there. Surely a far higher percentage of the Vita's catalogue is digital anyway?

He's right on the money regarding the economic choice though. People with only a handheld as their primary system are likely to be younger, worth less money of their own and possibly more
attracted to the 3DS



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

I know its a one dimensional suggestion but I honestly think that maybe a screen around 7 inches might be a lot more appealing?



rastamadeus said:

"What do you think that Sony needs to do to drum up interest in its flagship portable?" Stop clowns like Fergal Gara being allowed out in public would be a start. Sadly it's gone past the point where Vita can truly be saved now and everyone seems to agree we should just enjoy it over the next eighteen months before it's discontinued.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

@rastamadeus there are a few things that might save it. Continued ps4 sales, PS now, more & better titles, japan sales and possibly Chinese sales. I think they'll give it at least 2 -3 years before they give up if it does carry on as is.



eLarkos said:

I guess my definition of "roaring trade" is slighty different.
Vita needs solid exclusives and lots of them. Not ports, not indy games that are available on PC for a fraction of the price. Hardware is driven by exclusives.



charlesnarles said:

@RyoHazuki I think 5" is perfect for qHD resolution. Another inch on each side might be nice for remote play or improving touch accuracy, but it'd stretch games out and either make them fuzzy or pixelated. It's 960 × 544 qHD @ 220 ppi. You don't want 220 on a 7" : )



Punished_Boss_84 said:

Your right mostly, it does need exclusives but i wouldn't mind others having the ports and indies.

Point: I was right. I was goddamn right. I made this prediction that if Sony kept going on this pathway that we would have less physical games incoming. Not sure if i echoed it here but i knew this would happen. LOL iPod Cynical at that time? Yeah i know. Well whose laughing now?

No-One, not even me.



Punished_Boss_84 said:

@RyoHazuki No! PS4 and PS Now SHOULD not be helping PS Vita, because it is that type of thinking which will cost us physical games. These are further reasons to end physical support when PS Vita sales inevitably increase. PS4 already proved that.

Already cost us i should be saying.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

@Big-Boss but there ain't enough physical games and it isn't going to suddenly dramatically increase. Vita sales need to increase first off, any which way possible really. A bigger sales base is going to increase the likely hood of further vita exclusives.



Punished_Boss_84 said:

"A bigger sales base is going to increase the likely hood of further vita exclusives."
Through which method will this be achieved? Because depending on the method there would either be an increase or a substantial decrease in physical games. If Exclusives did it increase. If PS4 and/or PS Now did it decrease. Because it is that type of thinking which put forward in front of certain parties will believe this is a more viable approach for PS Vita. And why would third parties respond to making exclusives through an increase in install bases, which was caused non-exclusives.

Also Sony shouldn't give a rat ass about install bases in regards to providing exclusives seeing as its their own product. Nintendo haven't taken that route with the Wii U, similar state to PS Vita nor did they in the early life of 3DS. Furthermore they have less studios, they don't use the "its not planned" in regards to franchises/developers. So it really is inexcusable.



Enobmah_Shards said:

We can only hope this year that Sony will announce 20 games at the Taipei Game show which I hope doesn't include indies and some exclusives here and there.



get2sammyb said:

@Enobmah_Shards I'd be very, very surprised if anything was announced at the Taipei Game Show. New demos and trailers? Possibly. Actual game announcements? Nah.



Sutorcen said:

The difference between Vita and iPod is that Vita has actual games and dual sticks. The Vita IS the best portable gaming device out there. A few AAA games and it will find its spot in the sun. Also a revision (PS Vita 2) with more Ram, a better CPU and a better battery, around 2015 will do wonders for the device. We haven't heard the last of the PS Vita. It is only getting started.



eaglebob345 said:

@Sutorcen It is the most advanced portable gaming device but far from the best. Sony left the Vita out to die and they expect their most hardcore fans to keep buying an overpriced machine with overpriced accessories. If they wante to make more sales mak a fully backwards compatible Vita and make the proprietary (money gouging) memory cards dirt cheap. I have not upgraded from th psp because of that.



JuanitoShet said:

...And that's why the 3DS outsells the vita every week, world-wide, about 30,000 to 1. XD



NPB said:

People prefer playing games on ios/android than 3Ds or vita. Why buying gadget that only could playing games, if you could buy multi purpose gadget that can playing games & AND many more feature like social media, instant messenger, media player, & camera.

if Sony want PSVita survive, I think they must added that feature on Live Area Social media (Twitter, FB, Youtube, instagram), instant messenger like WhatsApp, media player, navigation & camera.

It will give powerfull selling point: great handheld gaming device with tablet functionality +Lower price.



Paranoimia said:

I love the Vita, but I want more 'proper' games like Uncharted Golden Abyss and Killzone Mercenary. Those are the reasons I bought the system.

For me, the problem is that they're mostly treating it like yet another mobile gaming platform, with silly little throw-away titles - but at stupid prices. Look at the Vita version of Angry Birds - a game you can play for free elsewhere, but which Sony saw fit to allow Rovio to ask an eye-watering £35 for! Not that I personally want Angry Birds, but it's a prime example. I will pay that for a Vita game, but only a triple-A title.

I've got no interest in the retro indie stuff they keep throwing at it, nor have I any interest in playing PS1 or PS2 games on it. I certainly have no interest in ports of 'mobile' games as they're 99% garbage.



Slapshot said:

No. Just no.

The iPod is pratically oboselete to the iPhone these days and the Vita and the iOS Marketplace are all but entirely different markets. If this is what Sony thinks of the Vita, the longterm sustainablility of this fantastic piece of hardware is looking grim.



Sutorcen said:

@eaglebob345 and the rest.

I had the same reservations as you did. Then I sat down and calculated everything the Vita had to offer and it's shortcomings. One year after its release it was a good time to get one (now it's even better to get one). So I sold my PSP with some games around 100 Euros, as a result the Vita didn't cost that much, and I only spent some money on a bigger memory card after many months. I preferred to buy the physical copies of the games and resell the ones I have finished or didn't like. When the time came instead of buying a game, I bought a memory card. I tried to keep the cost of owning a Vita at a minimum and it wasn’t THAT hard. It all comes down to how one sees things. Nobody forces you to buy a big memory card on day 1 and besides you can buy second hand memory cards very cheap if you search.

Is the Vita THAT overpriced? I keep hearing that for over a year now actually form day one, when it kind of was. At 200 Euros now usually with a game or a memory card, is it still overpriced? Compared to what? It's Bill Of Materials, the DS, the PS3? What are the standards? You cannot get a portable gaming device as good as the Vita at that or a lower price. Sorry I respect Nintendo but I don't like their products, or their games (except a few). Tablets which cost more (except the Nexus 7) don't count since most people put them on a surface and play with a joypad, sorry again, but that's not portable gaming and phones are a joke as a serious gaming device. So it all depends on how you look at things. So how is it overpriced?

I have some questions too. The same line of "reports" and articles come out for the past one and a half year, as if the Vita hasn't sold a single unit over that time, as if it didn't get any games. Could it be that we, gamers and mostly the reporters, are perpetuating a rumor and a distorted reality about the Vita? How many units must it sell to satisfy the press and make you (the owner) feel good or trendy? How many and what games must it get to satisfy? If it's not the games it's the memory cards, if it's not the memory cards it's the indies, if it's not the indies it's the ports. There is always something to complain about the Vita isn't there? Just let it rest. Two years of whining and bitching from the press is enough already. The pounding this device has received from the press from day 1 is beyond unfair, it’s downright war. I bought a Vita and I have never regretted it for a moment and I've been playing games since 1985, so believe me when I tell you I recognize a good device when I see one. People I gave the Vita too prefer it over a buttonless tablet or phone.

No AAA games. I agree, but… Let's be honest, if you are a gamer chances are you have a PC or another stationary console. Do you really want to tell me, that you waited for the Vita to be able to play 60+ hours games? While you have your big screen just sits there? Why do you have the need to play a Call Of Duty or an Uncharted game on a 5 inch screen? Why? Yes it is cool. Period. Apart from that, why? It is very tiring, if you play it outside you probably can't enjoy it because of all the sunlight or the bumps while in transit. How many of you travel for more than 3-4 hours daily or during the week to justify the need of a long AAA game on the go? A very small percentage. Most of us play our Vita indoors a few feet from our PC or main console. I would also like to see some AAA games in the Vita, but I will not die or dislike the device if I don't get them. Instead I expect the Vita to give me fun and unique gaming experiences and it manages at that, considering the time I spent with it. which is 1/4 of my gaming time and I play a lot. I can name more than 10 AAA games the Vita has that are great to play between PC or Console sessions or on the go.

Every product has its shortcomings. You just have to be honest with your needs and what the device you are buying can deliver and if you can workaround those shortcoming. Fortunately for the Vita, you get an almost perfect gaming device, that has all the controls you could wish for (except physical L2 & R2 triggers) and all you have to do is manage your games (digital vs physical) and what you play. If you haven't played Uncharted or Killzone (or any similar game) on your PC or home console, and you whine about the Vita not getting an Uncharted like game, then my fellow gamers it's your fault and not Sony's because clearly at that point your are just a greedy customer and nothing more.

The Vita will find its way, but not if you keep bashing it in the head and please don't mind the rumblings of a clueless bureaucrat exec who has probably never held a dualshock in his life, as is the truth (little insider info) for most people working at SCE UK. They have nothing to do with gaming, not even community managers. lol

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