As Nintendo have been finding amidst the 3DS’ recent price cuts, launching a gaming handheld in a world overrun with smartphones is no easy nut to crack. With high street retailers slashing the 3DS’ price down as low as just £115, Sony’s Vita has lots of lessons to learn from Nintendo’s failings if it wants to convince the world there’s a place for it in its manbag.
But even with Sony claiming at E3 that “virtually every publisher” is on board to make games for the handheld, some folks still don’t believe a successful launch for the Vita is possible: “All due respect to Sony and Vita,” said Matthew Seymour of game developer Heavy Iron, “[Vita]’s a car wreck.”
Lyle Hall, president of Heavy Iron, backed up the claim, saying that “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.”
For Hall, the price of the Vita will be a serious sticking point as well. “If people aren’t willing to pay $249 for a Nintendo 3DS,” he asks, “why would they pay $299 for a Vita?” It’s a good question, especially as we’ve yet to see whether, in the wake of recent 3DS price cuts, people are willing to spend even £115 on the Nintendo handheld. Sure, the Vita is more powerful and comes with a more ‘hardcore’ gaming pedigree than the 3DS does (think PlayStation vs. Wii), but with so many games available for pittance to play on the smartphones people already own, the question stands as to why someone would fork out another £200 for a games-only machine, where the games themselves cost another £20+ a pop?
Sony’s answer launches early next year, by which time who knows what will have happened to the 3DS and the state of smartphone gaming. Here’s hoping the post-Christmas launch won’t further damage its chances.