Michael Pachter. If you're reading this, I bet there's a good chance you're about to fly into the comment section below in order to tell us how much of an idiot he is. You'll probably tell us how you could be doing the same job, random guessing, from your couch.
We're not here to argue with you. We are here, however, to discuss the current state of gaming devices. For my money, I don't think there's anyone better at inciting sales-based conversations that Michael Pachter. Right or wrong, he always knows how to push buttons and illicit frustration and fuel fervent comments.
Case-in-point, the Nintendo 3DS and the PS Vita. While speaking with Game Informer about both systems, Pachter presented two very different situations for each handheld.
First, the 3DS will survive because it will, according to Pachter, always have an audience.
The handhelds are going to always appeal to core gamers. Core gamers can be six or seven years old. Go look at Skylanders. It's far from a casual game. There are tons of 8 and 9-year-old core gamers – look at the kids that play Minecraft. So, those kids are still going to want a 3DS, I believe that. But I promise you will not be able to find a nine-year-old alive in America who says they would rather have a 3DS than a smartphone. Kids who are hardcore gamers want both, but all kids would rather have a smartphone so they can text all their friends.
How about the PS Vita? It's not so much a picture of survival thanks to core gamers, but of a "slow" and "painful death." Here's Pachter once more:
The sales are horrible. My model says the Vita sold 4.2 million last year. It's a pretty small number and I don't think they are going to build a business selling 4 million a year — and that number could go down. Vita is a little bit too elegant and a little too expensive. 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. Very few publishers are spending money to make them. You had Assassin's Creed: Liberation, that cost Ubisoft a lot. It's a whole new adventure. Sony will spend the money with their internal studios, but you're just going to see [Vita] die a slow, painful death.
It's super high-end in the market; it's too expensive for a casual gamer. I know that phones are subsidized, but you can get a smartphone for free when you renew your contract. You can get an HTC free, or spend $200 on a Vita. It's too [hard] to pass up the free phone. They are never going to get the casual end of the market.
This is where my opinion diverges from Pachters. I don't think the PS Vita feels "too elegant," that's just ridiculous. It feels like a nice, well built device. It's miles and miles better than the PSP in terms of design, and I think he's crazy for suggesting he feels like he's going to break it.
But, he's right in that developers are going to start backing away from making games for the system. That's not because it's too "complicated," but because the install base dictates that making games for it just won't be good for business.
Oddly enough, the PS Vita shares this third party plight with the Wii U. Pubs won't come because there's not enough sales, and the sales won't come because there aren't enough pubs. It's an odd situation.
Regardless of your opinions of Pachter, what do you think of these points?