"We want more people to play with the PS Vita" said Hiroshi Kawano, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan. In an interview with Weekly Famitsu, Kawano talked about the reasons behind as well as the timing of the recent decision to not only drop the price of the PS Vita, but to make both the 3G and Wi-Fi models the same price.
While everyone is getting their rocks on about the PS4 news, let's take a step back to last week when Sony announced that Japan is getting a price drop on the PS Vita (but not the US (at this time)). Starting next week, on February 28th, both the Wi-Fi and 3G version of the PS Vita will be priced at ¥19,980 (US$214). In his interview, Kawano talked about Sony's consumer research on the Vita. "According to our company's research, there are mainly 2 reasons for people who ‘want to by a PS Vita, but have not yet.'" Kawano explained. "One is that they are waiting for a game they want to play. The second is that the price tag is a little too high."
Sony's research revealed that most people who own a PS Vita were very satisfied with the console, and so in order to allow more people to try it out, after much deliberation, Sony decided to lower the initial price tag hurdle. By making both models of the PS Vita the same price, Sony is looking to streamline the image of the PS Vita. Rather than having different models with different functions and prices, Sony has opted for the single simplified image of: The PS Vita is ¥19,980. "Our customers can then choose which model they want depending on their own lifestyles or play styles." Kawano said, adding, "For those planning on purchasing one, the 3G/Wi-Fi model will probably be a better package deal."
As to Sony's timing on the price drop, with heavily hyped titles like Phantasy Star Online 2 and Soul Sacrifice just around the corner, the decision to initiate the price change now was done to hopefully encourage people to go out and try these new games. While both games have gained a significant amount of attention, whether they'll be the savior of the Vita or not is still uncertain. When the interviewer pointed out that some have expressed concern at the lack of killer titles on the Vita, Kawano replied that, while Sony appreciates and treasures each and every title developed and released on the Vita, what's more important than simple sales numbers is how to capture the hearts of users. "We'd like to work with developers on trying new challenges [like the free-to-play model] on the Vita. Without such challenges, the gaming world itself can't expand" Kawano explained. "If such challenges lead to a new million seller and a killer title is born from the PS Vita, well, I couldn't ask for anything more."
The PS Vita is a little over a year old and over the past year even Sony admits it has not performed as well as they would have hoped. Overall, the reasons behind the decision to drop and unify the price of the Vita sound reasonable. Soul Sacrifice comes out in the US on April 30th. Considering their reasoning for the timing in Japan, maybe they'll have a Western price drop around then.