Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Opinion: What do an extra 35,000 Vita gamers actually mean?

This week's Japanese sales charts rocked for Sony and Atlus. Almost 35,000 people went out and brought a Vita, taking the total ownership over 750,000 in Japan. And, 137,000 of that lot rushed out and picked up Persona 4: The Golden. Making it the Vita's first bona fide hit.

The obvious advantages for Sony are a very high profile in game stores, magazines and websites for this week. While those sales will naturally tail off next week (Atlus only shipped 150,000 copies of the game and restocking takes time), the interest generated will only have a positive effect on a platform battered by perceived weak sales.

With the Vita ownership shooting up almost 5% in a week, those new owners will probably be raiding the back catalogue for more RPGs, with the likes of Tales of Innocence R, Ragnarok Odyssey and Disgaea 3 getting a sales boost. Probably not enough to kick them up the charts, but enough for the developers to feel more confident about further Vita work.

More importantly, any new games coming out like Metal Gear HD next week, Time Travellers and Hatsune Miku next month will see a greater number of sales than it would seen without this spike, boosting their positions in the charts and increasing the overall positive feel about the Vita. It might be small steps compared to the massive 3DS sales, but if the trickle becomes a stream, it can soon become a flood, if you ignore the 3DS LL for now.

The huge question for us in the west, is what game could have a similar effect over here? For all the talk of Bioshock, Call of Duty and GTA, these games will sell millions of copies easily, but they aren't the Vita's games (even Persona 4 was an update). Sony needs one title from any developer that comes straight from the Vita's heart and has huge appeal, I haven't seen it yet, and possibly we never will. But it'd be good to think that one dev is working on something magical, somewhere.

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