Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida admits that there's no question” smartphones have badly hurt” handheld sales.
In an interview with Games Industry, Yoshida also concedes the installed base of the PS Vita versus Nintendo's 3DS – specifically in Japan – has also played a big role in making the market tougher for Sony.
That said, Yoshida believes the Vita's lowered price will make it easier to compete with the 3DS moving forward. He also explained that Sony is now embracing the mobile market, instead of seeing it as a threat.
We've totally changed our approach to mobile products like smartphones and tablets,” he said.
In the past, we felt like these guys were competition to our portable games, in general – but now, everyone owns these smartphones and tablets.
We've totally shifted our way of thinking. Through the companion apps, the official PlayStation app and game dedicated apps. That's the much broader approach that we're taking, trying to embrace mobile products.
Yoshida clarified that Sony's Playstation Mobile program isn't what he's referring to, but that it would still be supported.
It's totally different from PlayStation Mobile – we'll continue to support that, but more as the entry SDK for people who are less professional. For PS Mobile, you don't need any dedicated hardware. You just download the SDK, just click certain buttons and now you can develop games on PlayStation. In that way, we believe that has a purpose. These are two different activities.”
Yoshida explained Sony's current approach to Vita won't have the company stressing to catch up to the 3DS, but will focus on just trying to increase the installed base of the handheld.
For us to be able to provide better hardware, in our mind – the new PS Vita is slimmer and lighter, easier to hold, has some internal memory from the get-go, so it's a bit more value – but the important thing is to continue to provide great games and game experiences.”
We continue to add our services on PlayStation, and for PS Vita, the enjoyment and the sources of games will expand, not just from PS Vita dedicated games. Those are the strengths that we have on PS Vita compared to other products – it's a device that you can use to enjoy PlayStation content from different sources.”