Will Vita TV help significantly increase PlayStation Vita sales in Japan? This was the question on the minds of games industry watchers a few months ago when the device was first revealed.
As it would turn out, the answer is no, it probably won’t. Not any time soon. PS Vita TV was released in Japan two weeks ago, and sold 42,000 units in its first week on store shelves. Fast-forward to seven days later, and sales had dropped to a mere 8,000 units in the device’s second week. Meanwhile, sales of the regular PlayStation Vita mode were a little better, at 21,000 units. Not great, but better, which means that a small niche of gamers are still interested the Vita—just not the Vita TV.
So, what exactly is PS Vita TV? It’s a PlayStation Vita packed into a little box, but without a screen or any sort of controller or buttons attached to it.
The purpose of the device, in case you’re wondering, is to offer a cheap alternative to the PS Vita to Japanese gamers. The Vita TV costs just 9,954 yen (about $100), and you can plug the device into your television to play Vita and PSP games. PS Vita TV works with the PlayStation 3 controller, making it a device targeted at existing PS3 owners.
Unfortunately, PS Vita TV fails to understand the reason that portable devices are popular in Japan in the first place. They can be carried around, played on the train, taken to a friend’s house, brought to McDonald’s after school and so on. They allow one to play games at their own convenience, without being tethered to the TV.
Another reason for the popularity of portables is the existence of multiplayer games such as Pokémon and Monster Hunter.
With games such as these, players often gather together in public to play together, trade items and share experiences. While Sony have been marketing the PlayStation Vita as a device that is home to a number of games inspired by Monster Hunter—the moment prominent being God Eater 2—Vita TV fails to capitalize on this genre of titles by restricting its games to your television, thereby making it impossible for players to gather and play together in public if they own Vita TVs instead of regular Vitas.
Perhaps PS Vita TV will see more success in the west. Perhaps Sony will try another angle in Japan. For the time being, however, it appears as though Vita TV won’t be making much of an impact on the Japanese console market.