If you’ve been keeping up with the Vita’s success in Japan, as well as the success of the games for the new platform, you’ll know it’s not looking so good for Sony right now. The majority of the Japanese gaming public seems to feel the PS Vita does not yet offer enough to justify its rather high launch price, either in terms of hardware or games.
In order to move units, some of the retailers carrying the Vita have decided to put version that has both 3G and Wifi enabled on sale just in order to keep selling the units. Discounts of up to 20% off the initial retail price have been spotted, bringing the package down to the equivalent of $325 USD.
Another sticking point of the 3G model is that the data plans for the 3G service must be paid for. Current reports say that the Vita will use the same AT&T plans the iPad does, at $14.99 a month for 250 MB of data, or $25 for a full 2GB. I realize charging for 3G plans is not unusual in the technology industry, but when I consider the fact that my 3G Kindle does not charge for the data plan at all, it seems high to me. Add the current abundance of free Wifi hotspots in most places in the US, and I can see why the Japanese are hesitant to spend the money.
Sony is going to have to make some tough choices regarding the Vita, especially as it gets closer to the US launch date in February. Will lessons learned in Japan bring down the retail price at launch, or will they count on a different public and different launch titles to help bolster sales? We shall just have to wait and see.