Yesterday, we posted an article musing on the number of reasons why Sony's new handheld, the PlayStation Vita, might end up meeting an untimely, low-sales end. Of course, things are never quite so black-and-white, and at the very least, you don't get to make a successor to your video game system if you don't know what you're doing, so there's hope for the system yet. Here are a few reasons why the PlayStation Vita could be a big success.
Smartphone for those without a smartphone
We, as a nation, love cool things, and let's face it: the Vita is really, really cool. Not only is it a very powerful piece of hardware, but it has multiple touchscreens, several media players, internet capabilities, and an innovative method of interacting with other Vita owners with Near. Those who have a smartphone probably have access to some of those things already, but those who don't might be attracted to buy this cool gadget.
One of the best features of a smartphone is having portable Internet capabilities, which the Vita definitely brings to the table; not only does it have Internet, but a 3G model is available for those who want to browse wherever they go. The device also doubles as an audio and video media device, and frankly their online store is a lot cooler. The Vita is the halfway point between a handheld multimedia device and a dedicated game system; if it were also a phone, like the Xperia Play, we might not ever need another device. In fact, if Sony could somehow add free Skype support for anyone paying for 3G service, it would literally be one of the coolest smartphones anywhere.
Powerful in-house franchises
As noted in the previous article, Sony might be losing third-party developer support to Nintendo, and a game system without games is going to have trouble obtaining momentum. If the 3DS launch showed us anything, however, it's that you need to start with excellent first-party games, which Sony is definitely not lacking in.
The ultimate example is Uncharted: Golden Abyss, a sequel to one of the most popular PlayStation franchises of all time, and the one that will best show off the system's capabilities. Other in-house titles include Wipeout, ModNation Racers, and MLB 12 The Show. There are also some strong Sony-focused franchises on the way such as Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, and Zone of the Enders. Once the Vita library is established, sales will likely pick up, thereby ending the problem of losing third-party developers.
Lots of resources
At the end of the day, if there's any company strong enough to take on Nintendo, it's a powerhouse like Sony, which makes pretty much everything. Their total assets and revenue are ten times that of Nintendo when all is said and done, which means that when it's time to get advertising space, online servers and more, the Vita has a serious upper hand.
These additional resources give Sony another advantage, though; it has the wiggle room to make mistakes, and correct them. Unlike Nintendo, video games are only a portion of Sony's overall business strategy, so immediate success is not critical to the life of the company. Like Nintendo did with the 3DS, Sony can compensate for any rough start the Vita might have, and eventually transform it into a must-have machine. There's a longer window of opportunity for the Vita to gain momentum before it's doomed to failure.
Looking at all the factors, there are a number of things that could lead the Vita to success or doom it to failure. We'll learn more about the future of Sony's new handheld when it's officially released in North America on Tuesday.