It’s true that the PlayStation Vita is struggling outside of Japan. In a post-smartphone world, the handheld has found it difficult to match the hardware sales expectations put upon it, and it’s become an afterthought for most major publishers as a result. Despite this, though, the system remains a haven for indie outfits and smaller developers – and that, according to Drinkbox Studios gaffer Chris McQuinn, is because the handheld has an outrageous software attach rate.
“Honestly, Vita owners are the best,” the Mutant Blobs Attack maker told Games Industry.biz. “People rag on the Vita so much, and I think that people who rag on the Vita don't understand, at least from a business perspective, the purchasing power of Vita owners. Vita owners are serious purchasers of games. It's an amazing system.” The comments mimic the platform holder’s own, in which it stressed that the average developer makes more money on the portable than on iOS and Android.
“The split in sales for Guacamelee between the Vita and the PS3 wasn't quite even, but it wasn't far off," McQuinn continued. "I think that speaks to the strength of the Vita as a console to sell your game on, because there are so many more PS3s than Vitas. For us, the sales on the Vita were really, really strong. It was a great system for us.” To highlight the install base discrepancy, Sony’s signature handheld sits at an estimated 5 million units, while its former flagship home console recently surpassed 80 million units.
According to McQuinn, the Vita’s perception problem comes down to hardware sales rather than software numbers – a flawed perspective. “If people don't see the Vita doing the same number of sales as the 3DS, then it's automatically a failure,” he said. “I think what people fail to understand is the purchasers of Vitas are very, very engaged game consumers. For them, the attach rate with games is very high. There might not be a lot of Vitas out there, but the people who do own Vitas are very serious consumers; they buy a lot of games.”
But does that mean that its recently announced touchscreen title Severed will be coming to the console? Well, the developer’s certainly a bit wary of mobile right now. "For us, I think that we're still going to be a bit hesitant about that market until we can see the market to be a bit safer with regards to you making a good game, putting it out, and people buying it," McQuinn said. "I feel that if you put out a really good game on the Vita, people will buy it. So until we see that stabilise a bit, we'll probably be a bit hesitant."
That sounds like a ‘yes’ to us...