Nintendo's 3DS price cut and analog stick addon seem poised to compete with the PS Vita.
The PS Vita might just be the handheld gaming device that could unseat Nintendo's substantial lead in the market. Nintendo's continued sales lead - having sold 147.86 million units worldwide since the DS debut in 2004 - is threatened by the flagging sales of the 3DS. Nintendo decided to slash the price of the system by almost a third soon after Sony's PS Vita received acclaim at E3 in June. A proposed addon would also provide a second analog stick to the control scheme similar to the PS Vita, ostensibly for Capcom's Monster Hunter 3G, but Sony Computer Entertainment President Shu Yoshida believes that Nintendo is trying to correct perceived problems with the 3DS design.
"It's clear that they didn't believe a second analog was necessary when they designed the 3DS, so I can only guess it was requested by Capcom's side," Yoshida said. "Maybe a Capcom producer told Nintendo that to play Monster Hunter we need [dual] analog sticks."
Was it directly in response to the strong reception of the PS Vita? "Well, it's not like they looked at PS Vita and said 'we need to do that as well.' I don't know," he said. "I can only guesstimate. It was a bit shocking to see what they came up with."
Yoshida also doesn't believe that the price cut by Nintendo was in direct response to the PS Vita either. "My personal guesstimate is that they have their business plan and goals to sell a certain amount of 3DS units, and they realized post-launch was that the pricing was not helping them to achieve the goal that they set," he said. "I don't personally believe that they dropped the price of the 3DS to respond to our pricing."
According to Yoshida, the two Japanese companies are vying for a piece of the same market, but that's exactly what will drive the industy forward. "I like to see healthy competition between Nintendo's system and ours because it helps innovation. It's always a good thing to have," he said.
Of course, that's a nice way for a company to act when the momentum seems to be in its favor. Perhaps Yoshida is too wise to gloat over Sony's favorable position because he knows that perception is a fickle mistress.
Only a short time ago, we game pundits were still impressed with the debut of the Nintendo 3DS at E3 2010 and poking fun at Sony's PSP Go. All it took was a botched launch coupled with a strong showing and suddenly the PS Vita is the end-all be-all of human portable gaming existence. Will we never learn?