March 13, 2013, 8:30 AM —
With the reveal of the Playstation 4 fading in our rear view mirror, it's back to gloom and doom in the world of video games.
From CNET comes a report on Wii U sales numbers. According to Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter (who is something of a controversial source in the eyes of many gamers), the Wii U sold just 80,000 units in February, compared with 165,000 units of the Playstation 3 and 225,000 Xbox 360s. All of those are Pachter's numbers. NPD numbers come out later this week.
It's not really surprising that the Wii U struggled in February; there really wasn't anything to goose sales. Hopefully it'll do better in March since we've got a few games coming out this month. Still, Nintendo's window of having no new consoles to compete with is closing quickly. In my opinion they need a steady flow of compelling new games, or a price cut, if they want to turn things around (they've done it before and they can do it again).
I think it's way too early to count the Wii U out, but I'm not nearly as confident in the Playstation Vita's future in North America (no hate; I own a Vita and really like it). Last month Sony dropped the price of the Vita in Japan and sales jumped. According to an article at Gamasutra week to week sales of the Japanese Vita jumped from 11,456 units to 62,543 units after the cut.
So it's obvious the Vita needs a price cut in North America too, right? Around the same time as the PS4 reveal Sony said "No" to a North American Vita price cut. But on Monday we had a gleam of hope. Joystiq noticed the 3G Vita bundle getting a price cut of about $100 to $199.97 at Sony brick and mortar stores. That's about $50 less than the WiFi model and it comes with an 8 GB memory stick and (if you sign up for 3G coverage) a free game. Sony's online store shows a price of $249.99; $50 off retail.
Retailers such as Best Buy and Gamestop haven't followed suit but neither list the 3G version of the Vita being available online. So is this an early sign of the price cut we're all waiting for?
It seems not. According to some of the retailers Joystiq spoke to, Sony is discontinuing the 3G model of the Vita, so (assuming that info is correct) they're just blowing out inventory. While it might help Vita sales a little, I can't imagine it'll be enough to matter.
Sony seems to think Playstation 4 integration will drive Vita popularity but I find that unlikely. The only action I can see turning the Vita around is a price cut. Unfortunately I'm not running Sony's Vita division. I think the Vita is a real nice piece of hardware but until it gets an install base that'll attract a lot of developers, it's never going to take off. The old gaming console 'chicken and egg' dilemma, and the longer the Vita languishes, the less confidence developers will have in it. A damned shame.
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.