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Sony on Vita: "Sometimes you've had slow starts which have suddenly sprung into life"

Plus: "We've got more developer engagement on PS4 than for any previous console."

Has Sony given up on Vita? The big spend on big games appears to be over, save Killzone: Mercenary, and last week Sony predicted just 5 million Vita and PSP sales - combined - for the financial year ahead, which is significantly fewer than it managed during the year just ended. In other words, Sony expects things to get worse.

By contrast, Nintendo expects 3DS to sell 18 million units during the financial year ahead.

Sony's senior business development manager Shahid Kamal Ahmad answered Gamasutra's concern about all of this last night.

That's his listening face again.

"Sometimes things can happen," he said, "and they can dramatically change the evolution in terms of sales of a platform."

He added: "What I can say is that looking back at the performance of different consoles over the course of history, sometimes you've had slow starts which have been suddenly sprung into life by a number of activities.

"What you don't say ahead of time is, 'Oh this will and that will happen, and suddenly we'll have a massive spike in sales.' It's not the sort of thing that companies do."

3DS got off to a slow start and then Nintendo lowered the price and announced new Mario and Mario Kart games for Christmas and everything turned out OK. No doubt Nintendo hopes the same thing will happen with Wii U this year.

Sony's tried a Vita price cut in Japan but not in Europe and the US. Vita sales spiked temporarily and then settled at around 20,000 units a week - a bit higher than pre-cut. Mind you, that's still a third of what 3DS posts each week.

Ahmad's comment about not predicting a sales spike suggests Sony maybe believes something will trigger Vita will be lifted out of the doldrums - it would rather forecast a worst-case scenario rather than what it believes the console could do.

That 'something' appears to be indie games which, depending on how you look at it is either a refreshingly hip tactic or a sign that Sony's no longer willing to invest the big bucks in games - after all, Vita was touted as the device that delivered home console-quality gaming on the move.

"So it's not like last year we went, 'OK let's get indies to go onto PS4.' That's not the case at all."

Shahid Kamal Ahmad

Whatever the underlying message, Sony's indie push is admirable, and it's a topic we delved into in depth in April. It has resulted in Vita welcoming some fantastic titles such as Hotline: Miami, Thomas Was Alone, Luftrausers and Spelunky.

Ahmad insisted Sony's approach was more about establishing relationships with developers rather than signing individual games. Recently, Sony courted Jeff Minter on his farm, and secured his Tempest-like game TxK for Vita.

Not only this attitude of fostering indie relationships exciting - and vital - for Vita, it's also encouraging for PlayStation 4.

"I guess what has happened over the last year is that we've just engaged with a lot more people that we previously have," Ahmad said, "simply because there are more people to engage with. It's meant that we've had to reach much more broadly that we've ever done before.

"So it's not like last year we went, 'OK let's get indies to go onto PS4.' That's not the case at all. We like working with developers, we like working with publishers, and we're active.

"Now, we don't currently have any plans with them to do PS4 stuff, but who's to say that they won't be the next people to bring content to PS4?

"We've got," he concluded, "more developer engagement on PS4 than we've had for any previous console, so that's a really healthy sign."

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About the Author

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Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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