Sony Pushes PlayStation Vita Into 2012: Costly Mistake
Shades of the PSP launch, but this time, the company is in for a wake up call.
If you can't wait to purchase a PlayStation Vita, Sony's decision to release the system in Japan by the end of 2011 and the U.S. and Europe in 2012 (date unknown) is probably a bit disheartening.
At the same time, it's one of those glasses half full scenarios. Look at it this way. At least the launch games will (should) be up to snuff by the time the machine's ready for its worldwide debut. Besides, this same setup worked for PSP in 2004 (Japan) and 2005 (U.S.).
On the downside, the decision comes with consequences that may prove fatal from now until whenever the handheld appears on store shelves.
For starters, it's time for Japanese companies to stop favoring Japan. It's such a small country when taking into account the global industry.
That's why, when it comes to new hardware, you should do a global launch, or at the very least, send PlayStation Vita to the U.S. and Europe a month or two later.
Why? Because it's not 2004. Not only does this give Nintendo extra time to make a dent in the handheld market with 3DS, but you can bet that millions of consumers will pick up iPhones or Android enabled smart phones in time for the holidays.
Cell phone gaming is the biggest threat to Sony, and the big N, for that matter. It may not seem like it within your inner circle (friends, forums, etc.), but the millions of casual players (the ones Sony desperately needs for Vita to be successful) are just fine playing Angry Birds or Cut the Rope: Experiments without having to fork over another $249.99 for a handheld system and between $29.99-$39.99 for games. Not when the games they're addicted to cost $0.99 apiece.
For now, Sony finds itself in a catch 22. The system needs triple A launch titles, no question. Releasing it late winter/early spring 2012, though, may ruin the publisher's chance to succeed.
PlayStation Vita's 2012 launch at a glance...
+ Has the chosen month all to itself.
+ Gives developers time to polish launch games.
+ Allows Sony to manufacture plenty of units.
- System will trail 3DS by several million units.
- Smart phones will have taken an even bigger slice of the handheld gaming pie.