Sony’s successor to the PlayStation Portable went on sale in Japan and other Asian territories on Saturday, December 17 and even though the handheld wasn’t aggressively promoted (at least when compared to previous Sony products like the PlayStation 3) it sold 321,417 units according to various sources, which include Japanese magazine Enterbrain and Reuters. Although this number is more than significant, 500,000 units were shipped and Sony is already stating that they are planning on increasing it to 700,000. To clearly see what this represents let’s compare it to the number of other handheld systems sold in Japan over the course of two days:
- Nintendo 3DS: 371, 326
- PlayStation Vita: 321,417
- PlayStation Portable: 161, 074
It’s great to have numbers as a reference, but what do the users and developers think of this powerful new portable console? The initial reaction seems to be really positive and even when a lot of people prefer to play cheaper games and applications on their phones or iPads, the Vita is probably the perfect platform to prove that “hardcore” gaming will not perish, or at least not any time soon. Portable gaming is just changing at a very rapid pace, and this transition is happening so fast that it’s hard for Nintendo and Sony to keep up. In any case, I believe that the audience who plays games on their iPhone and the audience who plays games on their dedicated devices are completely different and want different things. Those who enjoy Angry Birds or Rolando want a quick experience on the bus or train and those who play Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII or Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker prefer to play for longer periods of time. The Vita seems to reinvent certain things at the same time it maintains the quality of its titles, but my point is that those who play on one platform or the other know the kind of gaming experience that they are going to get.
Additionally, it’s great to see that players can use their Vita’s as a media device which can hold all their pictures, movie files and music. Of course, the limited storage (which is distributed on a proprietary flash memory called “PlayStation Vita Card”) will soon become an issue and the portable won’t replace your 160 GB iPod classic, but Sony’s latest handheld can also play games in two different formats: downloadable and through physical media. One of the reasons why the PSP never became huge in America and Europe was because Sony was stubbornly trying to promote its UMD format, which was woefully inadequate to say the least. At least now and during the near future you’ll have the option to choose which one you prefer. Finally, I don’t think it’s bold to say that the Vita will soon be able to run games similar to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or similar role-playing games. The hardware is more than capable of doing something like that and while some developers will probably choose to create games like Patapon or Locoroco, some other will try to make use of the Vita’s powerful technology. I guess it’s too early to tell what the response of Americans and Europeans will be when the portable makes its debut in America on February 22, 2012, but ones thing’s for sure, the Vita is a worthy successor to the PlayStation Portable.