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.