Reports suggest that the PlayStation Vita saw poor sales when it launched in Japan in December, but have these fortunes changed since the handheld was released in the rest of the world in late February? We take a look at some charts and graphs to see how the Vita has sold compared to other handhelds in their first week.
As the charts above (via Statista) show, the sales in each region are significantly different with Europe being the keenest adopters of Sony’s latest handheld. Only the PlayStation Portable sold more in its first week in Europe although conversely the Vita is the least popular selling console at launch in the U.S. Another chart, showing the above condensed into a global sales view follows:
So what do all these numbers really tell us? At this stage it’s hard to tell as there are numerous variables to consider.
Naturally the launch price and line-up are huge factors as people don’t want to buy a console with very few top games to play on it, nor do they want to spend a lot of money on a handheld. The latter being especially poignant with the Vita since its base model (Wi-Fi only) retails at £229.99 whereas a PlayStation 3 160Gb model can be bought for less than £200. This may be seen as a sticking point for many potential customers despite the fact that the PS3 was £425 at its March 2007 launch and has been subject to many price reductions since then.
Another matter is how many of the above unit sales are actually kept by their original owners. With the trade in of consoles increasing in popularity, how many of the above have already been traded in, maybe even to use as credit for another one of the handhelds. On the same topic, how many of those have been purchased second-hand and how many are sitting in shops waiting to be sold? Even initial sales don’t translate to satisfied or consistent customers who will continue to pay out for games for said device.
Probably one of the most important points is how much the world of portable gaming has changed following the rise of smartphones. In a world where people can get a fun little game for mere pence there’s the likelihood that less customers want to pay a premium price for an extra device to play with, despite the gaming experience being far closer to home consoles than most phone app stores can provide. The mobile phone market was certainly not as mature at the time the Nintendo DS and PSP launched so this no doubt worked in their favour.
In summary it’s far too early to conclude that the Vita is destined to be a success or even a failure. Sales figures simply don’t give the full picture. After all the original PlayStation Portable wasn’t exactly embraced by Japan at launch but has ended up being a hugely popular console year on year even against the newly released Nintendo 3DS in 2011.