Things haven’t been going so well for Nintendo and the 3DS lately. By slashing the price of their latest handheld within the first six months of its release and releasing a circle pad add-on that looks ridiculous, Nintendo has made it clear that the 3D-centric handheld is not doing as well as they hoped. With the PlayStation Vita set to release in Japan later this year and the rest of the world in early 2012, Sony can really take advantage of the lack of momentum that is currently plaguing the 3DS.
What is Nintendo thinking?!
First off, Sony has a few hurdles to overcome, one being the price. With Nintendo’s handheld now priced at $170, a whopping $80 cheaper than the entry level Vita model, many believe that Sony needs to ask themselves whether or not they should launch with a lower price tag. However, when considering all the value and technology that is packed into Sony’s new device, it is hard to argue that $250 is too expensive. The Vita is undeniably the superior handheld, boasting an OLED touch screen, rear touch pad, dual analog sticks… need I go on? The best thing for Sony to do right now is let the hardware speak for itself and once people get the device in their hands, let the public evangelize the product for them.
Another issue that many believe will lead to the detriment of the platform is that fact that its not releasing in time for the holidays outside of Japan. Seeing as how the 3DS has just seen a price drop, it will no doubt be the system on every kid’s wish list. And while that may be the case, Sony is better off waiting until after the holiday craze, when they have a solid lineup of launch titles. If there’s one thing Sony can do to capitalize on Nintendo’s 3DS issues, it’s to learn from their mistakes. The 3DS launched with a pathetic library of games, and, even though it was unique and exciting tech, not a whole lot of people cared enough to pick one up. Sony is making the right move by waiting until there are enough games to give the system a strong launch. If they were too hastily push the platform out in time for the holiday rush with a weak launch lineup, many would dismiss the system as simply being another PSP, lacking a robust library of interesting titles.
Uncharted on the go is a huge win for the platform
Sony has always found success when they stick to the basics and focus on fundamentally good games. Nintendo often takes the “gimmick” approach and, while it has paid off for Nintendo with the Wii and the DS, it will be best for Sony to leave the gimmicks at the door and focus on delivering compelling core franchises to the platform. Gamers love Sony because of all the platform’s quality exclusives that cater to the hardcore. If Sony wants to succeed, they need to take advantage of those dual analog sticks and give gamers the core experiences they so desperately desire.
While I previously mentioned that Sony should leave their gimmicks at the door, I don’t mean to say that they shouldn’t innovate. The rear touch pad will bring all sorts of new game experiences into the fray, and judging by how titles like Little Deviants and Sound Shapes are coming along, there’s a lot of fun to be had with this new innovative hardware. The difference here is that these games are birthed out of unique gameplay concepts, not tacked on for the sake of making use of the hardware. Nintendo’s 3D capabilities have yet to introduce anything compelling from a gameplay standpoint and this has ultimately lead to their detriment. If Sony wants to succeed, they need to let the core titles make use of the game’s more traditional controls, while leaving the wacky innovative stuff to new and unique franchises built around the hardware.
In the end, Sony still has one heck of a fight ahead of them, but if they can learn from their own shortcomings with the PSP and Nintendo’s 3DS debacle, they’ll be headed in the right direction.