The PS Vita is in a pickle right now — in Japan. For the second straight week since the new handheld launched, sales for the handheld have continued to fall. Is the PS Vita pulling a Nintendo 3DS, where slow sales, after an initial launch bonanza caused Nintendo to slash $80 off after about six months on the market?
We didn't want to freak out and decree the PS Vita a fish in trouble after dropping from a launch high of 325,000 units to 72,479 in Japan, but sales fell again. The PS Vita only managed to move 42,648 units in Japan for its third week. That's a 77 percent drop and then a 41 percent drop.
Did somebody say, uh oh?
If you recall, the 3DS was faced with the same outlook. Hot initial sales. Not so hot follow-up sales. The price cut really did wonders for the 3DS.
I would even go as far as saying Nintendo's quick, but upsetting (for early adopters) reaction to the poor sales helped turn the 3DS around from going the way of the Virtual Boy.
Nintendo realized $250 was too much for a handheld that only does gaming and it realized that its launch window games were weak. Thanks to the price cut and a strong lineup of games like Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 and Monster Hunter 3G (Japan loves this franchise to death), the 3DS has literally done a 180 turnaround.
For the PS Vita, it could be the slightly boring launch games, or the game prices (some of which cost nearly $50 and up) or the price of the PS Vita itself, which is now considerably more than a 3DS.
Or, it could be that gamer choice in the mobile market has changed significantly thanks to smartphones and tablets; that standalone handhelds dedicated primarily to gaming aren't hot commodities anymore.
It could be a lot of factors — some which might not be so obvious at first. The PS Vita isn't necessarily a failure...yet.
Will Sony give the PS Vita a price cut to quickly boost sales back up? Not likely so soon. Sony didn't give the original PSP a price cut until nearly a year after it was released in Japan, and that was only a $50 one from $250.
Remember, the PS Vita is a device with near-PS3 quality capabilities, two touch panels and cameras. Like the PSP, Sony's vision for the PS Vita is that of the marathon, not the sprint.
The only thing that's more depressing is that the PSP actually sold more units than the new PS Vita. But then again, the PS Vita doesn't have Monster Hunter...yet.
It's still too early to count the PS Vita out. We can all start making predictions after the handheld launches in U.S. and Europe on Feb. 22, agreed?