Low Vita Third-Party Support “Surprised” Sony, No Price Cut This Year

Key Sony executives spoke up about the PlayStation Vita this week, revealing that the company was expecting stronger third-party support from publishers after the handheld launched worldwide last February.

Speaking to Gamasutra, Shuhei Yoshida stated that he is both surprised and disappointed by the lack of support for the Via, and admits that the company is having to compete for third-party developer resources with mobile devices.

“One thing that was surprising and disappointing to us was the [lower] number of third parties to come out [in support] after launch… In retrospect, there are so many options for publishers now that we cannot take it for granted that our new platform would be supported by third parties, like [it would’ve been] many years ago.”

“There are limited resources that third party publishers have, and they have to diversify into new areas [mobile and social games] constantly; that’s a challenge to get the support that we want.”

“We’ve been working harder with our third party relations department to secure more content for PS Vita… As we can expand our install base and articulate what works really well on the platform as compared to others, it will get easier for us to be able get support from third parties,”

Expanding the install base is key for Sony to bring in third-party developers, however, it does not seem that the traditional method of using price cuts to move hardware units is in the cards for the struggling Vita.

SCE UK boss Fergal Gara told EuroGamer that the company is aiming “to establish price cuts”, and “the question is not so much if, but when”. However, he did confirm that it will not happen before the upcoming Holiday shopping season.

In a separate interview with CVG, Gara said that one solution might be to bundle the PlayStation 3 with the PS Vita, and offer a retail package of the two systems in time for this Christmas.

“We’d have nothing against that whatsoever, and it’s not out of the question that we would do that this Christmas if we wanted to… We put together packages for retail, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t create a ‘Vita plus PS3’ bundle, which could feature games that use cross-play, as well as include a PlayStation Plus subscription that both devices could use.”

“Is a dual-console bundle box a perfect solution to that? I’m not sure, but I think there’s scope to have deals where people buy both the Vita and PS3, along with cross-play games and get a discount.”

With new hardware from Nintendo launching in November, the popular Xbox 360 positioned as the lowest-cost HD console, and the 3DS getting more attention from consumers and third-party publishers, I’m not at all convinced that Sony will see much success for the PS3 or Vita without price cuts.

The company is clearly between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”. Their poor financial position is preventing them from cutting their hardware price points, and without price cuts they can’t grow the Vita‘s install base and bring in third-party publishers.

Whatever Sony decides to do with the PlayStation Vita, they need to do it fast and it needs to work. They simply can’t afford any more missteps.