Sony explains PlayStation Vita game price strategy

Admits "sweetening the deal" on 3G hardware for US and Europe.

Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida has explained the company's PlayStation Vita game price strategy - and insisted you'll get your money's worth from 40 titles.

Vita games vary in price. Namco Bandai's Ridge Racer, for example, can be bought for as little as 20. Uncharted on Vita, however, costs 40.

In the current economic climate, and with the emergence of ultra-cheap app gaming, some are worried that Vita will struggle because the games are too expensive.

Sony, though, believes in its pricing policy, and has a theory...

"We have a theory that if we create really compelling, engaging experiences that you can spend hours with, you'll see the value of spending 40 dollars against one dollar," Yoshida told VentureBeat.

"The good thing about $1 games is that people are not spending too much money on them. If you buy 40 of those, you might be spending $40, but still... Or many games are free?

"Gamers love all kinds of games. I totally understand people who like games like Angry Birds, but if you're a gamer, you're also interested in trying different kinds of experiences, bigger games."

Yoshida challenged publishers to think carefully about how much they charge for their Vita games before they put them on shop shelves.

"You saw Nintendo's 3DS, it had many software hits last December, like Mario Kart," Yoshida said. "That's the theory. That's what I'd like to see proven, after the launch of PS Vita.

"I can see, looking at the games in game stores, when you see games that you feel you can find on the iPod or iPad for five dollars, why should you spend 40 dollars? So software publishers will really have to think hard when they approach pricing their software. Is this the experience that will compel people to spend that much? Or is this something they should provide for more accessible prices, so that people will try it?"

Yoshida said Sony is trying as many different price points as possible for its Vita games - both online and offline - and insisted it will spread its attention across all types of games, from small to large.

"For the past consoles, we had a pretty rigid price range we kept to. This is a full-price game, $60, this is a Greatest Hits, $30. Like that.

"But for PS Vita, you'll see games that sell for $50, $40, $30. And on the digital, $45, $35, $23, $15, $10 and $5. A very wide variety of pricing. We're looking at each title and the value and scope of the content, and trying to match people's value perception with the pricing.

"We are not just focused on big-budget, triple-A, $40 titles. We're big fans of the smaller experience as well."

When Sony announced its Vita pricing it said the Wi-Fi only model would cost 230 and the Wi-Fi plus 3G model would cost 280.

But it recently announced a new UK deal with Vodafone that offers a 3G Vodafone Vita and a free 4GB memory card for 279.

And if you top-up the 3G SIM with 5, Vodafone will throw-in a copy of WipEout 2048 for free. On its own, Sony's 4GB memory card costs 17.99. WipEout 2048 is currently going for just under 30 quid.

This, Yoshida said, was Sony "sweetening the deal" on the 3G offering. Why? Because in Japan Sony found a much higher ratio of sales for the 3G version against the Wi-Fi version "because the core gamers tend to opt for the highest model".

"But we are coming to see more of a one-to-one kind of sell-through in Japan," Yoshida revealed.

"That's how, in the US and Europe, we've tweaked it a little bit to sweeten the deal for the 3G SKU. Instead of keeping on saying that 3G is good for you, we added some content that people can immediately see the value of, like adding the memory card, adding free game content to download.

"The hardware is a bit lower now, so they're willing to try it."

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