PlayStation Vita Faces Fierce Competition from Game-Friendly Smartphones, Report

PlayStation Vita Faces Fierce Competition from Game-Friendly Smartphones, Report
Sony's PlayStation Vita still has several months before it's released in the United States -- but that hasn't curbed a pair of video game developers from foreseeing the next-gen handheld's failure, dubbing it a "car wreck."

Heavy Iron Studios' Lyle Hall and Matthew Seymour told GamesIndustry.biz (registration required) that the PlayStation Vita will have a hard time competing with a market that's drenched with casual games packed into smartphones.

(See Related: Hands-On with Sony's PlayStation Vita: Impressive Hardware, Game Play)

Hall contrasted the PlayStation Vita's eventual launch (coming to Japan later this year and arriving in the US and Europe early 2012) with that of Nintendo's 3DS, which was plagued with dismal sales, forcing Nintendo to slash the price of the 3DS by almost half, from $250 to $170, less than five months after the handheld hit shelves.

PlayStation Vita Faces Fierce Competition from Game-Friendly Smartphones, Report

"If people aren't willing to pay $249 for a Nintendo 3DS, why would they pay $299 for Vita?" Hall told GamesIndustry.biz. The PlayStation Vita comes in two flavors: $299 for the Wi-Fi and 3G (which is powered by AT&T) version, and $249 for the Wi-Fi only version.

Though sales of the Nintendo 3DS have soared in Japan since the price cut, having to cut the price in the first place -- a mere five months after launch -- is an embarrassment, if not a gloomy omen, to the handheld gaming industry, and Sony may have to do the same with the Vita.

"People don't want to carry more than one thing in their pocket, that's why Android and iPhone have done so well, they are the devices of choice, they offer multiple functions outside of gaming," Hall said.

Sony also hasn't had much luck recently in the handheld market. Sony's successor to the original PSP, the PSP Go, struggled with paltry sales and had its retail price reduced to move seemingly unmovable units. And as games on the iPhone and iPad made big bucks, the PSP Go was discontinued less than two years after its release.


Hall and Seymour also compare the Vita to assumedly poor sales of the PlayStation phone, the Xperia Play, though that's a little off the mark since the Xperia Play is a phone and therefore supports multiple functions.

You may be wondering where two dudes who pump out UFC Fighting titles and forgettable movie tie-in games get off damning the Vita to failure. The answer is they aren't ... necessarily. Hall added that the Vita's "technology is sweet," but that his harsh statements come from the perspective that gaming devices are going the way many believe single-function e-readers are headed. "I can't see why you would want to put a device out that only does games," Hall said.

Whether you believe there's a market for gaming handhelds anymore, or whether you think the dudes at Heavy Iron Studios are full of it, at least they only said car wreck, not train wreck.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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