Playstation Vita suddenly overpriced (says Japanese analysts)

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Gamers (or perhaps more accurately, analysts who report on video games) are certainly a fickle bunch.

When Sony announced that its upcoming Playstation Vita handheld gaming system would retail for $249 US, the same (at the time) price as Nintendo's 3DS handheld, the reaction was almost universally upbeat. Most pundits had expected a higher price, given the Vita's OLED touch screen, the second touch pad on the back, the cameras, graphics processing power and all the other tech crammed into the portable system.

That was before Nintendo slashed the price of the 3DS to $170, effective this week. Now suddenly, analysts are calling for Sony to drop the price of the Vita, before it even launches! Bloomberg has the report that is based off of comments from Japanese game analysts and a single Japanese gamer.

The whole piece reads a bit skewed to me. In the first paragraph Bloomberg refers to the Vita's $380 price tag. They're referring to the 29,980 yen price of the 3G Japanese model, I assume, but it sets a tone for the entire post. The money quote from the post is this:

“Gamers are increasingly anticipating Sony to lower prices, especially after the 3DS cut,” said Hideki Yasuda, a Tokyo-based analyst at Ace Securities Co. “Sony is under major pressure to cut the price of the Vita or risk a major failure.”

How did the Vita go from being a great deal to being at risk of failing in a major way, without ever shipping a unit? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The tech inside is the same now as it was when the price was announced in June.

For their part, Sony seems to be holding firm. The Bloomberg piece quotes a comment Sony's president Kaz Hirai made in response to the 3DS price drop:

There’s no need to lower the price just because somebody else that happens to be in the video game industry decided they were going to

My suspicion is that margins are very low, or more likely negative, for the PS Vita at the $249 price point; I doubt Sony has the wiggle room to lower the price even if it wanted to.

I'm still not sure there's a market left for dedicated handheld gaming systems, but I don't think the Vita will flop due to its price being too high. The $249 price still seems fair to me, same as it did back in June.

Has the Nintendo 3DS price drop impacted your opinion of the value of the Playstation Vita?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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