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PS Vita Launchreport

February 15th, 2012 by Arjan Olsder Posted in Platforms: Playstation Vita | 2 Comments »

Last night we travelled down to the centre of Holland to experience the PS Vita launch event. Next to providing a large amount of information, Sony also found another way to make this a launch to never forget…

Benelux Playstation Sales

The original Playstation (or PSone) was introduced in 1994 and managed to sell off 1.6 million SKU’s. Still it was hardly as popular as the Playstation 2, introduced in 2000 selling 2.3 million SKU’s. The PSP(go), introduced in 2004, sold 1.2 million SKU’s followed by the Playstation 3 in 2006 by 1.5 million SKU’s.

As Sony pointed out, all Playstation releases followed big technical achievements. The PSone was the first console to support CD-Roms while the Playstation 2 was the first connected console allowing multiplayer gaming. With the introduction of the PSP, Sony claims the first Wi-Fi connected gaming device, but Nintendo launched the first iteration of their DS family two weeks before the PSP went retail. The Playstation 3 is the first console to go big in blu-ray and still the powerhouse in console gaming today.

PS Vita is Mobile Gaming

One thing that was interesting to notice, is that Sony didn’t really speak about console gaming or even handheld gaming when talking about the PS Vita. Instead, they constantly used the term ‘mobile gaming’ for the Vita experience.

Sony believes strongly in the position of the PS Vita as a mobile gaming device. They brought up numbers from IDC showing a slightly increased demand for mobile phone games in 2012 and a fairly big demand for dedicated handheld software. I must say, I am not sure how to read that one though.

Gameplay All Over

It must be said, the PS Vita has gameplay written all over the device. The screen is absolutely great and touch-support on the front and the back allows you to interact with the games without having your fingers in front of the action. To top it all off, there’s the second analogue stick and a huge amount of sensors and camera’s that can be used in all sorts of creative ways.

Next to the availability of the camera’s, Sony also includes a set of 6 AR cards with the PS Vita. This means developers of AR games don’t have to worry about getting consumers to print and cut out custom cards. To lower the barrier for consumers even more, Sony also packs codes for three AR games with the PS Vita. A smart move.

Online vs. Retail

When Sony introduced the PSPgo, the entire device turned out to be a failure. Consumers turned out not to be interested in paying €100 more for a device with a smaller screen, no support for lots of official PSP accessories and lacking ‘cheap’ UMD support while only adding Bluetooth (haven’t seen a game using it) and 16GB of memory. At the same time, retailers had no interest in selling an expensive device with a €5 margin and no way to earn money from game sales.

With the Vita, Sony clearly took a good look at the past and came up with a more interesting mix for retailers. Though margins are still low (from what we heard), retailers will be able to sell boxed games and a special type of memorycard that only works on the PS Vita. Interestingly, those same games are also available online at the exact same price retailers are offering them. Though it is comfortable to buy them without leaving the house, there is a big drawback for consumers. The boxed versions come on their own memory modules while the online versions have to be installed on those that consumers need to purchase at the retailers anyway. In other words, online purchases are more expensive to consumers.

We spoke with several retailers during the event and most of them have been really satisfied with the amount of pre-orders they managed to pull in on the device. The non-3G version seems to be the most interesting to consumers as they don’t want to be tied up with unexpected costs.

PS Vita 3G Partnership

One of the interesting bits we have seen is the tie-up with Vodafone NL (in Belgium, Sony works with Proximus). Vodafone is carrying a big part of the promotion and has something interesting to offer to consumers that purchase the 3G version of the device. Not only is there a sim-card present in the box, it also holds €12,50 internet credit. When consumers purchase another €20 in credits, they get a free code to download the new Wipeout 2048 game. That same title is also on the shelves with retailers. Several retailers we spoke to during the launch event where not too happy about this deal.

At the end of the evening, one question remained for many present. What will an hour online gameplay cost me on 3G?

PS Minis

One of Sony’s strong key marketing strengths is the availability of games. Not only do they have 16 new titles at the release, they also have a strong back-catalogue of gaming content consisting of over 500 titles. In these are the PSP, PSP Essentials, PSone and the PS Minis that will remain available for the Vita. Minis have been developed for the PSPgo platform, which of course has less to offer than the Playstation 3 and PS Vita can handle. Platforms and Services manager Bernard Groeneveld agreed that lifting the Minis platform to the technological level of the Vita and PS3 is an obvious step to take; there are no plans for that right now.

Game Pricing

Yesterday, we already reported on the US pricing of games on the PS Vita. For Europe, retail games will be priced between €29,99 and €49,99. Pricing levels for the games on PSN were not announced. Wait, PSN? Sony turned that into the Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) right? Yes, but no mentioning of SEN at all last night…

Partyreport

So, back to last night. We were there together with some other journalists and lots of retailers. Though we have been at many launch events before, Sony is the only one really putting press and retailers together.

As Sony is performing their biggest marketing campaign ever, I was expecting a lot more Sony’s PS Vita launch than Nintendo’s 3DS launch. To give you a feeling, Nintendo’s launch was stuffed with press plus some of Nintendo’s closest fans. The day after the event, a free 3DS with launch titles landed at our office. Sony took a different route altogether.

Both the press and retailers present that night got a ‘sweet’ deal. The PS Vita 3G version that will retail for €299 discounted to €299, but you get 4 free games and a pre-order pack… Though many retailers where happy with this discount, me and some of the other journalists have been experiencing a bit of a downer. I personally don’t mind spending the money on the device, but I already have a stack of PS Vita games and accessories laying around as developers want me to write reviews for them and the invite to the event was giving me the hope I would have the device early (perhaps with a small discount). According to the team handling the orders, I will have the Vita on Feb 25th, only three days after the launch. Kudos!


    2 Responses to “PS Vita Launchreport”

    1. Rascal says:

      Lol, so you were told to get a sweet deal and then you’re f’ed because a regular pre-order would have gotten you as a journalist the device faster? Great PR Sony…

    2. Jeroen says:

      I am from Holland too. I share your pain. Linden & Barbosa is the worst PR company to work with. Can’t work with them, can’t work without them :(

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    Arjan Olsder is the Vice President of Pixalon Studios. Opinions expressed on this publication do not have to represent those of Pixalon Studios.

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