System 3 boss and industry veteran Mark Cale explains why PS Vita has the potential to be an iPad-beater and what Sony could do to help the handheld prosper in a tough market.
PlayStation Vita launched just two months ago but today you'd never know it.
Sony has some of the sexiest technology out there. So I was actually disappointed in the launch and the marketing behind the launch that supported the machine.
It'd be great for Sony to find a way to reposition its marketing to really show off the PS Vita's hardware and performance. Vita has the potential to be a big opportunity. It is a fantastic machine. There are so many reasons for buying it but I'm unclear as to why Sony is waiting to promote these key features in its marketing plan.
Compared to the PSP, Vita is amazing. Compared to iOS devices, Vita is also amazing. Vita has a fantastic screen display. Not only is it a touchscreen device, but Sony was the first company to introduce into the marketplace a screen technology that Apple defined as a Retina display. Technology it described as ‘revolutionary'.
Vita plays games, we know that, but what else can it do? If you're using it in the same way as your other mobile devices, you can take pictures. And these pictures are actually of higher quality than mobile phones. Its quality rivals that of the iPhone.
Another key feature Sony isn't shouting about yet is the location-based services to log in wherever you are. I could do the tourist thing and log in at London Bridge on Facebook. But you don't need to be online to use these location services. Vita uses these location services to pinpoint where you are when you take a picture.
You can use Wi-Fi and 3G to go online. Vita allows you to use Facebook, Twitter and even Skype, using the machine's built-in camera. You can use screen gestures, too, on the touch pad, so it's directly comparable to the iPad.
Some people go on about the cost of PS Vita. Granted, it's expensive compared to the PS3, but it's cheaper than an entry-level iPad 2 which costs 300, and it's a bargain compared to the top-of-the-range 700 64GB model. And apart from a larger screen, the iPad has nothing over PS Vita.
That message should come through in the marketing. The consumer believes Vita is expensive because they see it as just a games machine with great capabilities, but they might not know what those great capabilities are.
The games engineered for Vita also offer a much better experience than nearly all of the titles you get on the iPhone and iPad. And even mass-market games that made mobile devices so popular with casual gamers, like Angry Birds, are on the PlayStation Network if you want them.
You've got a much better interactive gaming device in Vita than Apple will ever be able to deliver on a touchscreen-only product. This is because Sony has kept its traditional, excellent game controls built into the device, such as what all gamers would consider essential – an analogue stick for controlling the games.
For Sony to hit home these points they need, in my opinion, to be included in any and all future marketing campaigns. The video games industry needs this new device to succeed.
So just how important is the handheld market? Well, from April 16th to April 22nd 2012, the Top 10 games chart in Japan consisted entirely of 3DS, PSP and DS games.
The overall sales of PlayStation Portable in Japan, from launch to date, are nearly 19m. The Nintendo 3DS has sold over 5m units in just over a year. So don't tell me there isn't a handheld market, because there is.
The PlayStation Vita is such a great machine and essential to handheld gaming, it mustn't be allowed to fail.
This is a battle cry. It's so important for the industry. And there is a handheld market. We've seen over here in the UK how well the 3DS is picking up now. Nintendo stumbled with the wrong marketing message when it started out with the 3DS handheld, but it put its hands up and changed its marketing position, message and price point. It showed off what the 3DS can actually do in its newer TV advertisements and press campaigns, just like Apple does with the iPad.
Let's hope Sony, and everyone else releasing and promoting games for Vita, can now show off what the portable can actually do.