The Future of PlayStation Vita

Sony Computer Entertainment Japan President, Hiroshi Kawano, in an interview with mynavi.jp today, outlined what he saw as the possible future direction for the PlayStation Vita. On the back of a pretty substantial price cut for the powerful handheld, Kawano remains upbeat about the system’s prospects for the future.

 

Below is an overview of the key points from Hiroshi Kawano in that interview.

 

 

Having been reduced by 10, 000 yen – a substantial 33% chunk of cash off the device, Kawano was quizzed as to why the drop now. Kawano explained that after canvasing consumer opinion they discovered that there were two main reasons behind not buying a Vita. Firstly, that there were no games that they wanted to play and lastly, that the device was too expensive.

 

For Kawano, only one of those issues could be resolved directly by SCEJ – and that was the price drop – the amount and types of title available was in the hands of developers and publishers.

 

 

After careful thought,  they decided that a sub 20, 000 price point was the correct price to stimulate sales – but why now?

 

Kawano explained that Spring was the best time to do this reduction. Tokiden, Phantasy Star Online 2 and Soul Sacrifice – which are all in the  Hunting  Action genre – will hopefully attract lots of people to Vita.

 

The Soul Sacrifice demo for example has been downloaded by 1 in 5 poeple with a PS Vita so these are very strong titles. The price reduction is to coincide with these releases.

 

 

And what about recovering costs with such a huge price drop?

 

Kawano explained that being one year since launch, Sony have found that people are using their Vitas for a very long time once they’ve bought it. They turn it on an average of three times a day – with lots of connectivity to PSN. So with that in mind, lots of revenue can be recouped via PSN, such is the high level of activity.

 

How did Hisoshi Kawano rate the console’s success so far?

 

He explained that if a console is rated poorly, it’s over straight away. The Vita however has been rated very highly – and Sony have found that many people do want this kind of console – with strong features and high build quality.

 

 

True, Vita’s reach has been lower than expected – and while reluctant to give a percentage, conceded that they didn’t reach their targets – however, they expect the price drop to remedy that. He also reiterated that, once people have the console they are enjoying it  – using apps that work well with games. This is important because it effects the way users communicate with each other – elements that create communities.

 

Users are increasingly attracted to these elements, which is very encouraging –  it shows potential in the device.

 

But what about the problem of there not being enough games?

 

Kawano felt that releasing 100 titles in 1 year after release was not lower than Sony expected. However, the problem is more to do with the fact that the titles people want to see haven’t been released – and expects this will be resolved this year. Since the two reasons people aren’t buying Vita are price and volume and type of titles – Sony needs to continue talking to game companies, to try to keep releasing titles people want – something Kawano states they are actively doing.

 

 

 

Many people feel that the lack of First Party games like Gran Turismo could be an issue – but Kawano feels this is not entirely true. Explaining that first party games tend to do better on home console rather than handheld – but Sony are trying to promote cross platform play where games can be played on both formats.

 

He went on to say that, on Playstation,  it’s traditionally been third party games that prove the attraction – not the first party games that take the lead.

 

Sony want more and more Japanese game publishers to release on Vita – and Kawano is spending lots of time trying to make sure this happens.

 

 

Once big succes has been free to play games on Vita, with Samurai and Dragon’s by Sega, performing particularly well. Kawano suggests there could be more F2P games in future – with Social Games, being an influence in this switch of focus.

 

This is relatively new territory for Sony, but Hiroshi Kawano is quick to point out that Playstation was released in 1990 – sticking to old strategies isn’t wise because things change so much as time goes on. Sony really wants to try new things.

 

Not everything will shift to free to play. Big titles have have big price tags attached – some games deserve different prices. It important to have flexibility in price. PlayStation must always challenge – to try new things.

 

If Sony is seen as being on the defensive then it’s a problem. Kawano admits that there will be some failures on the way – but Sony must keep challenging all the same.

 

 

 

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