PlayStation Vita – officially abbreviated as PS Vita – is electronics giant Sony’s official successor to the PlayStation Portable handheld gaming platform, but it might not receive the acclaim and success that its predecessors had. While the touchscreen handheld gaming console is selling better these days, that doesn’t equate to its owners being overjoyed by the mobile video game device either.
The device was launched in Japan in December 2011, but did not get that much attention. Sony has since tried a new tack, giving the Vita a price drop early this year – both the Wi-Fi and 3G versions are now available at 19,800 yen (approx. 200 US dollars) in Japan. That has livened up demand for the Vita, Sony selling over 200,000 units of the portable in Japan during the month of March, the best month Sony has had since the launch. The system has an estimated user base of around 1.4 million systems in Japan. But the rise in demand doesn’t really mean that the users are happy with the systems either.
According to a survey by Famitsu.com a couple weeks ago, 46 percent of users said they were more or less “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the PS Vita hardware. About the same percentage were satisfied with the software lineup, leaving a majority of the surveyed owners feeling negative about the Vita’s game library than the system itself. “Sony seems to be pushing the social features of the device, but to me that’s a lot of functionality I don’t need,” said a 38-year-old male respondent. “Also, the interface is non-intuitive and hard to use. It’s difficult to tell what the icons mean, and what little text-based explanation there is includes a lot of Vita-specific jargon that’s easy to get confused with,” he added. The survey asked owners to rate their overall experience with the Vita on a scale from 0 to 100. The average score came out at 74.92, coming from 1,500 replies.
Overall, there is cautious optimism for the handheld gaming platform, but not the sort of success that the PSP received, nor the kind that would make Sony particularly happy. Games like Persona 4, Soul Sacrifice and the upcoming Dragon’s Crown are attracting attention, but some Japanese gamers still don’t feel there is enough variety. “If you actually try it out, you realize that it’s really kind of like a tablet that happens to be good for games,” one user concluded. “Being able to play fully fleshed-out titles like these on a portable system easily is really great; I don’t use my PS3 much any longer. I’m hoping for better things from it in the future, in apps as well as games.”