Vita sales have slowed to a trickle in Japan but Sony remains unconcerned.
Sony managed to sell 325,000 PlayStation Vitas in the handheld's first week of release. Unfortunately, sales have slowed since then, with second week sales dropping to an unimpressive 72,479. Many Japanese retailers are offering a 20% discount on the current RRP in an attempt to boost sales. For comparison; Nintendo's 3DS managed 375,000 sales in its first week and 210,000 in its second and that was still considered a poor enough launch to warrant a massive price-cut less than six months after launch. Sony, however, is choosing to ignore the bad and concentrate on the good.
"If you look at the word-of-mouth factor, it's really strong because people are bringing it home and really enjoying it," said hardware marketing boss, John Koller, in an interview with Gamespot at this week's CES. "That satisfaction rate is really high. But also in terms of when we funnel in additional hardware units, that'll dictate how many sales there are and how many sell through. We're still in the first couple weeks, and we're trying to get as many units into market as possible. We're going to give it some time, but overall those numbers have been to forecast."
The fact the 3DS is currently destroying the Vita in the Japanese sales charts didn't stop Koller from throwing a few barbs Nintendo's way.
"What we really wanted to do, and I think we learned from past, most recent, handheld device launches, is that you don't want to launch strongly and then go dark for three or four months and have nothing," he said. "So in subsequent months for Vita, we have launch, then we have MLB, then we got Mortal Kombat, then Resistance, then Little Big Planet, then Call of Duty, and Assassin's Creed."
Harsh, but true. 3DS sales didn't really take off until the release of the latest Mario, and Monster Hunter installments. The release of Monster Hunter Tri-G and its particularly fancy 3DS variant helped drive the handheld's most successful week to date.
The few reviews we've seen of the Vita have been overwhelmingly positive, which raises the question of whether it's the system's weak Japanese launch lineup, relatively high price or the rumors of large-scale technical issues, that are putting the damper on sales. We'll see how the Vita performs outside of Japan when it launches in the west on February 22nd.