PS Vita vs Nintendo 3DS: the Successes and Failures so far
by Joshua Williams (PS Vita editor)
Sony will never go on the record and admit that they’re competing with the 3DS, but without a doubt, the two handhelds are indeed vying for handheld gamers’ interests. When examining the successes and failures of the Vita, one cannot just ignore the 3DS. This is NOT an article suggesting which handheld you should support but rather an observation of how this off-the-record war is being waged. Before we get completely caught up, though, let’s take a step back and see what’s happened up until now.
The 3DS Launch
The 3DS launched March 27, 2011 in the US but it wasn’t exactly flying off the shelves. Nintendo’s response was to drop the price from $249 to $169 just five months later. Combined with popular games to put that shiny new gizmo to use, such as Super Mario 3D Land, sales picked up and damage control went into effect to appease those early adopters. Giving them VIP status and calling them Ambassadors, Nintendo offered them 20 free retro Nintendo games. Essentially, it was an apology as the 3DS only had begun its success half a year after it was originally released.
The PS Vita Launch
The Vita launched a little less than a year later in February 2012. With a higher price point than even the original 3DS price (3G version) and an even higher price ($349) for those gamers that opted to get an early release bundle. It has been the Vita’s price tag and additional cost such as memory that has made it slow out of the gate. What Sony can be commended on is the large and varied software lineup at launch. Gamers had many games to choose from at the get-go, and this contrasted with the 3DS’ pale launch lineup which didn’t come with any of Nintendo’s most popular franchises.
2 Screens, 2 Circle Pads
Even before the Vita launch, Nintendo released the Circle Pad Pro which adds additional battery life and buttons, most importantly a second circle pad, to the 3DS. In Japan this release coincided with the release of Monster Hunter which is explosively popular amongst the Japanese. If Sony didn’t see this as a wisely-timed move by Nintendo then maybe they ought to take a look at their sales data.
Hey Sony, where are the games?
Shortly after a healthy launch lineup, the Vita games slowed to a trickle. This led to premature declarations of the Vita’s demise. But, slowly, titles like Mortal Kombat, Resistance (maybe not so much Resistance), Metal Gear HD, and Gravity Rush helped to restore confidence in the Vita’s future.
Very soon Nintendo will release a redesigned 3DS that for some reason does not incorporate the much-demanded second circle pad. The 3DS XL is bigger and has a longer battery life, as its name implies but how will fans react to the obvious omission? But, maybe it won’t even matter as the original 3DS prices drop and more Mario and fan favorites titles continue to be released.
The Vita Bundle
Taking a page out of Nintendo’s playbook it looks like Sony has a plan to undermine the 3DS XL launch. Two weeks later when Madden makes its first Vita appearance, it will also do so in the form of a Vita bundle. At $249 gamers can get a WiFi Vita along with a copy of Madden 13 which at the very least will offer a console Madden experience comparable to Madden 12.
Madden is a big deal in the States but will it translate into Vita sales success? Will it take an Assassins Creed or a Call of Duty arrival before the tides truly turn in Sony’s favor? We’ll have to wait and see!
Regardless of whether they’d like to admit it, it benefits gamers when Sony and Nintendo compete. Prices drop sooner, bigger games get released and technology gets pushed to the limit. Even if you are the most diehard fanboy, to a degree, you owe it to the other guys for the experiences you get to enjoy. As the months and years roll by we’ll look at the numbers and we’ll debate back and forth as to who won and who lost-but so long as you can get your gaming fix in the palm of your hand, you’re the winner.