The Growing Pains of the Vita
It takes only one visit to any GameStop to realize that the Sony Vita is still active in its pursuit to discredit any stigma attached to its name; unfortunately, the verity is that the Vita still combats lessened support from Sony but most importantly is being swept under the rug by most retailers. I understand that the handheld is still in its infancy to some extent, but the lighting in which the handheld is depicted is not only poor, but detrimental to boot.
A fun challenge is tasking yourself with attempting to find the Vita display at your local game store (disclaimer: I tried this at GameStop), and you assuredly won’t find it – okay, you will eventually, but it’s hidden! I visited several GameStops looking for anything for my Vita, honestly just wanting to browse, and I actually experienced a certain amount of difficulty just trying to find the displays.
Having eventually found each display, I realized that the Vita had been relegated (at one store anyways) to the old Gamecube display, and was pushed back towards the back of the store – it still resulted in me doing nearly two laps of the store AND considering the option of asking for help before finding it.
I know, I know, this isn’t Sony’s fault directly, but instead the purported support of most retailers like GameStop and Best Buy is what’s hurting the handheld the most, and that’s because of its lack of titles.
Most retailers are finding anywhere and everywhere to spatially establish a little nook for the handheld, and it’s not only confusing, but assumedly affecting sales as well. Sony and larger retailers are obviously confident that the handheld is able to stand on its own, but don’t view it as impactful as Nintendo’s 3DS in terms of sales or presence; the Vita could honestly benefit from a bit of relocation and restructured support, especially with the release of the Playstation 4 being only a few weeks ago – this is also where Sony could regain some lost footing over Nintendo.
The Vita and Playstation 4 have interchangeably cited one another to bolster current and prospective sales, and it’s long since been established that the Vita can and does offer remote play, so why don’t retailers tether the two in physical marketing? Displaying the Vita alongside the Playstation 4 in stores would not only convey an inextricable and uniform effort on the retailer’s end, but also reinforce sales since the two have somewhat smaller catalogs as of right now.
Do consumers truly need such small reminders? Of course!
When initially shopping for Vita games and accessories, I instinctually went to the newly established Playstation 4 section and blankly stared until realizing that where I assumed the games would be was instead unnecessarily occupied with cases displaying upcoming releases -it’s this type of cavalier approach that’s failing to put the console within direct view of the consumer and instead situating it wherever it’ll fit.
Despite being utterly infatuated with the Vita, it’s an anomalous feeling to walk out of GameStop feeling marginalized and wary of your newest $200+ investment (Okay, I only paid $50, but traded a lot in). Personally, I haven’t gravitated towards a handheld since the initial release of Pokemon in 1998, so finding myself ignoring my nearly new Playstation 3 along with Ni No Kuni in order to replay the Walking Dead and PsOne classics like Final Fantasy VII and IX says a great deal about the handheld – a handheld that’s obviously in need of support.
Honestly, this is the best time to campaign for and restructure support for the Vita, only because the next-gen consoles are reliant on titles that have begun to wane in popularity (e.g. Killzone, Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, etc.) and are completely bereft of must-have titles; the deficit of titles leaves a sizable gap that divides console owners that don’t yet want to make the investment, but have also exhausted their backlog of games to play on their current-gen console.
Allowing the focal point to settle on the Playstation 4 and Vita equally could associatively and intrinsically link the two and help to edge out Microsoft in the first quarter of second-gen sales.
This is also an ideal time to redirect consumer directionality in favor of the Vita; why not restore some of that zest for the console by unhinging all those Vita games from the Turtle Beach display and scooch them on down to the tail-end of the Playstation 4 games and put available games at the forefront – put them on sale!
I understand that Sony is making efforts to sway consumers with offering “free” games with Playstation Plus, but why not place a few Vita heavy-hitters on sale in conjunction with Playstation 4 for the holiday sales? Dropping the price on a few classics like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and LittleBigPlanet, as well as newer releases like Ys: Memories of Celceta and Tearaway could help to reshape the fervor that was once held for the system – shoot, even offering a discounted PSN card alongside a normally priced Vita game would be incentive enough.
Sony has already taken appropriated strides in order to contribute to the allure of the handheld by dropping the price significantly, so I’m hoping they continue onward with that mindset and offer some rockin’ deals for the Vita here in the next few weeks – hopefully that rumored PS4/Vita bundle becomes a reality as well.