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Sony: 'We have to do a better job in promoting the Vita'

PS Vita Screenshot - PS Vita announcement

Just about a year old now, the PlayStation Vita has struggled to catch fire in the handheld gaming market. Back in January, Sony Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai admitted sales are "on the low end" of the company's expectations. On top of that, Sony, for a third time, has revised their estimated sales forecast for the Vita. In today's Q3 earnings report, Sony announced that they now expect to sell  a combined 7 million PSP and Vita devices by March 31, 2013, down from the late November forecast of 10 million combined. 

I firmly believe it's too early to call the system a flop, but sitting around and waiting for it to pick up steam isn't going to cut it anymore. Even the 3DS required a price cut before it began selling to the masses. The point is, something must be done and Sony recognizes this, admitting today that they need "to do a better job in promoting the PlayStation Vita."

"Gaming business software is the name of the game. So as a fundamental measure, we are putting all -- a lot of resources, not just first party, but also asking third parties to put out more attractive software," Sony's Chief Financial Officer Masaru Kato acknowledged. To be fair, the Vita has had its fair share of quality titles, Gravity Rush and Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation to name a few. But it has also had a good amount of flops: Black Ops: Declassified and Resistance: Burning Skies come to mind. 

The good thing is, looking ahead, the Vita has several promising looking titles coming up. In September of this year we have Killzone: Mercenary and sometime in 2013 we'll see the launch of Tearaway, a charming adventure game that sees you interact with a papercraft world. Of course, it can't just be up to Sony to support the Vita, third party developers have to join in as well. Sony is seeing the same thing with the Vita as Nintendo is with the Wii U. Until they get a substantial user base, it will be tough to attract third party developers.

Of course, it doesn't just come down to games for the Vita. As Kato said, "That's just the basics."

"The other thing, well, marketing, pricing of the product, et cetera, I cannot talk about pricing of this platform, but those are the things that we are looking into to improve our profitability in the mobile handheld gaming business."

Sony recently unveiled the PlayStation Plus Instance Game Collection PS Vita Bundle. This included a Vita 3G Wi-Fi system, 1-year PS Plus membership, a Unit 13 game voucher, and a 4 GB Memory Card for $299.99. But is that really enough to attract consumers in a down economy?

Despite being a year old and failing to generate the buzz the company had hoped it would, the Vita has not yet seen a price cut. Sure, Sony has had some great ideas, especially with the Cross Buy promotion. For those unfamiliar, this is a great offer that, when you purchase a PlayStation 3 game, gives you a free copy of the Vita version -- provided there is one to give. Unfortunately, this promotion is limited by the Vita and PS3's technology differences.

Who knows though, with the PS4 presumably being announced this month, maybe it will have development environments similar to that of the Vita's. That would certainly allow for more games to take advantage of this promotion. 

One thing is certain, though. Sony must act on the PlayStation Vita. At least they recognize something must be done.

Matt-liebl-profile
Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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