Sony engineers working on PS Vita "cost reduction" for post-2012 price cut
Points to bundles, big franchises, PS Mobile and PSone emulation for this year.
Sony engineers are working to reduce the cost of manufacturing the PS Vita so it can cut the price of the handheld - but that price cut won't happen this year.
Sony's fledgling portable has endured torrid sales since its launch last year in Japan and early this year in Europe, sparking calls for the Japanese company to slash its price.
But Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida told Eurogamer at Gamescom this week that the price of Vita will not drop this year. Instead, it hopes prospective buyers will find new bundles, such as the LittleBigPlanet Vita bundle announced during Sony's Gamescom press conference earlier this week, good enough value to convince them to take the plunge.
"People like cheap or free," he said. "Of course, cost reduction is one area our engineering team is working on. But we just launched the platform earlier this year. It takes time to do so.
"At a certain point in the future we would like to address the pricing issue for some of the people who are waiting. But this year we are trying to add value by creating different types of bundles. We announced we will provide LittleBigPlanet PS Vita bundle pack. That's affordable for people who are looking for a good deal."
So, no price cut this year? "No," Yoshida replied. "It's too early."
Another criticism Vita has endured is that there are not enough games available for it. Yoshida said Sony had noticed this perception, and the addition of new games and content was now its number one priority.
"The reaction to the hardware platform itself has been very strong," he said. "We are very pleased with the response we got. It's up to our expectations in terms of what we were hoping for in bringing PS Vita to the market.
"But the actual sales of PS Vita, obviously we would like to see more uptake. We see lots of feedback from consumers saying they would like to see more content, they would like to see their favourite franchises coming to the PS Vita.
"From our perspective, we were very pleased to launch with many titles. Many people said we had the strongest launch line-up for a PlayStation platform. But it's amazing how much more people want and how much content they consume.
"We designed PS Vita as a medium you can spend hours immersed into playing games. That means any amount of content can be potentially consumed pretty quickly. Also, we feel the expectations of people have changed since the launch of smartphone gaming. There is so much available in terms of variety and numbers.
"So we have to continue to work on bringing more content from big titles people are looking for in terms of franchises, to very small, snack-sized, intuitive casual games on the digital distribution side."
During its conference Sony revealed a raft of Vita games that are spin-offs of big franchises, including Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation, Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified and Killzone: Mercenary, and Yoshida hopes these games will boost sales of the handheld.
But another way new content will be added to Vita is through PS Mobile, Sony's new way of getting smaller games built for the Android platform on a raft of PlayStation certified devices, including smartphones, tablets and, of course, Vita.
"PS Mobile is one of the initiatives we are working hard to provide an ecosystem like the App Store, so small developers and even individuals can create content and publish on PS Vita as well as PS certified Android devices," Yoshida said.
"And anything in between, like offering the PSone emulation compatibility. We were very happy to be able to announce later this month we will bring lots of PSone titles to PS Vita. That includes lots of great RPGs that people were asking for on PS Vita. I for one am looking forward to playing Legend on Dragoon again on PS Vita.
"So, that's our biggest focus now. The best way to realise the potential of the PS Vita platform is to provide the content. That's absolutely number one."