Face it, the PSP was trounced by the Nintendo DS, and all its variations, in the United States. The system may have done exceptionally well in Japan, but the rest of the world loved the DS more by leaps and bounds. The price and the ergonomics of the unit, the software library and the UMD format worked against Sony to keep the PSP so far from the top spot in the States.
Fast forward to today. The Nintendo 3DS is, by all accounts, under-performing. Nintendo poorly elected to bolster the hardware with a weak software lineup leaving gamers with no real reason to buy a unit. The 3D aspect of the device is far from its greatest asset, and the cost of the system kept the frugal and fence-sitters away.
Then came news of Sony’s release schedule for the PS Vita. The system will only be releasing in Japan this holiday, it won’t be out in the United States or Europe until 2012. Our own Killian Bell touched on this briefly in his initial report, but I feel it absolutely must be hammered home that this move is a bad call by Sony. Really.
With the price cut from $250 to $170, the Nintendo 3DS has become a lot more attractive to potential consumers. In the face of mobile phones and the current economy, the new $170 price might be sitting directly in the sweet spot for a slew of would-be-buyers.
Still, an early cut is a sign of weakness in product for customers. That’s a market Sony should release their hardware to. Now, Sony’s giving Nintendo and their new, low, attractive price wide open space to breathe. Anyone that wants a brand new portable system this year will be able to turn to the Nintendo 3DS. The PS Vita will not be directly in front of everyday consumers when it comes time to shop for the holidays.
Sony was poised to vault over the 3DS come fall. The system has hype, a great price, a nice roster of games and a purely sexy look. It would have sat on shelves next to a portable that has a tumbling price in the eyes of buyers. And, carrying the Sony brand would have done it even more justice given the success of the PS3.
Now? The hardware will release in a dead spot in the calendar year. Holiday consumers won’t be interested. Will it perform? I hope so. But the space Sony’s given Nintendo may be hard to overcome.