A few days ago, Marcos reported on the Infinite Frontiers website about the upcoming release of the Nintendo Switch Lite. It isn’t intended to be a replacement for the main console. This cut-price handheld model is intended to complement the main system. The aim is for this to be an alternative for those who use their Switch on the move or for those thinking of buying one, but who are attracted more to the idea of portable gaming. While there are gamers still loyal to the PS Vita, is this the step that Nintendo needed to take that will make gamers move over from Sony’s device?
Sony’s Big Mistake?
Contrary to what the mainstream media would have us all believe, the PS Vita wasn’t the abject failure they would lead us to think. In it’s lifetime it has managed to achieve a respectable 16 million sales worldwide, and has a strong and loyal user base. There is a high attach rate when it comes to game sales which is why it is still a profitable platform for developers who choose to support it. Now while I won’t go into details about why Sony failed the PS Vita, there is one fundamental mistake that they made in the West that could have helped the console. Branding.
During its lifetime we have seen four core PS Vita models, ignoring colour and regional variants. Two versions of the original 1000 series in a wi-fi and wi-fi/3G models, the 2000 slim model, and the PlayStation TV. Throughout that time, Sony refused to spent time promoting the fact that the PS Vita had a huge library of digital games running alongside its physical library. More importantly,the fact that it could access a huge range of digital PSOne and PSP games was seldom, if ever mentioned to the public at large. A console with access to over a dozen Final Fantasy games would be an almost guaranteed success, but if you asked any Sony representative that fact was either ignored or glossed over.
But it was the final release of the console that showed the biggest marketing failing for the system. The PlayStation TV. In Japan it was clear to prospective buyers what it was. Under the moniker PS Vita TV it was clear that the microconsole was a PS Vita that could be connected to a television. Bundled with a controller, you had everything you needed to get playing right out of the box. Sales figures reflected this with the unit managing to sell significantly more than any of the current offerings from Microsoft at the time.
In the West, things were different. Re branded as the PlayStation TV stores simply didn’t know what it was. Shipping without a controller, it became relegated to the accessory shelves in the PS4 areas in games stores where it remained until it was offered at discounted prices. People believed that it was just an add-on for Remote Play streaming instead of its true nature as a PS Vita in a box. Gamers who did take the plunge were missing out on playing hundreds of great Vita games because most simply had no idea what they were buying. By missing out a single word from the system’s name, it’s place in history was locked in before it even reached the shops.