Sony’s Playstation Vita launched in Japan two weeks ago to what was described as success, selling ~325,000 units and over 300,000 games (yes, that is fewer games than game systems … I’ll let you figure THAT one out). By comparison, the Nintendo 3DS launch last March sold ~375,000 at the initial $249 pricing. So in theory that was a pretty decent start … perhaps it meant that earlier predictions of it being ‘DOA’ were unfounded?
Turns out … no.
First off think about timing – a March release compared to a mid-December release. One is at a low point in the sales calendar, the other at the high point – even in Japan December is a hot time for selling gear.
Next, in week two for the Nintendo 3DS sales dropped 44%, meaning that after two weeks it had sold ~600,000 compared to <400,000 for the Vita. In contrast, the original PSP sold out the 200,000 Japanese launch inventory in two days before going on to sell 600,000 in the first week of the US launch. To be clear, the Vita had 700,000 units available for launch, so there was no sell out.
Perhaps most telling is where things shook out in last week’s hardware sales numbers according to:
1. 3DS: 482,200 (367,691)
2. PSP: 101,121 (64,468)
3. Wii: 91,176 (60,916)
4. PS3: 75,943 (65,119)
5. PSV: 72,479 (324,859)
6. DSi LL: 8,470 (5,600)
7. DSi: 5,894 (3,523)
8. X360: 4,245 (3,584)
9. PS2: 1,582 (1,400)
10. DS Lite: 32 (32)
There are three things to note here: the Vita (PSV) chart position, the 3DS sales, and the PSP. The Vita managed only 5th place this week!
The Nintendo 3DS got a huge bump when they dropped price to $169 earlier this year, which you can see by the massive 482,000 units sold – nearly 7 times as many as the Vita! But look at the number in parentheses – even during the launch week for the Vita it was outsold by the 3DS by nearly 20%!
The final interesting figure is that the original UMD-based PSP (well, actually the PSP-3000 at this point) managed to outsell the Vita by >40%!
I am not yet ready to call the PS Vita a flop, and am sure it will gain a following in the US when it launches in February, but I think that this is a very clear indicator that the system – and dedicated systems in general – face severe challenges. Nintendo took a huge hit with the $80 price drop and has seen massive returns; it will be interesting to see how Sony responds.