Thursday, January 12, 2017

Vita owners laugh in the face of statistics

As with any relic or collectible, the Vita is more of an emotional proposition, just like baseball cards, classic cars, stamps or build-an-R2-D2 part works. There is barely an economic case these days for teams to develop a game, or for gamers to buy increasingly rare, limited or costly boxed copies of them. Yet, delightfully and amazingly, people do, with sizeable effort on both sides.

I have no idea why, but am truly impressed when, developers choose Vita as a target platform. Or when Vita owners help a game reach some distant stretch goal or encourage a developer by weight of passion to bring a version out for us.  

Stick Your Statistics

However, for those into their numbers, according to the new Game Developer Conference survey report, only 2% of developers currently have the Vita in mind (and the data could be quite old). Fortunately there are many hundreds, if not thousands of developers out there, and only 3% (quite possibly the same crowd) are focused on the upcoming Switch. 

Over in the sales data column, the Vita captured just 0.2% of the UK retail market revenue and 0.4% share according to GfK data. UK retail sales hit £776 million in 2016, so Vita earned £155,200 of that pie, according to the data. Still, not bad for a device Sony killed three years ago, and you know what they say about statistics! So why are the games still coming? Clearly the numbers don't add up.

I'm assuming that sales from online publisher stores like Marvelous and NISA don't count toward that total. All those limited editions that people keep sharing on Twitter must add up! There's also digital, which if Sony would ever let a publisher mention them, should shunt sales, value and revenue a lot higher, otherwise this blog would have been left intentionally blank back in 2014. 

Analysts are wanking themselves silly over sparse data points, based on incomplete numbers and fragmented information, captured using increasingly out of date methods. Why? Because that's their job. 

Reasons to be Cheerful

Over in Japan the Vita still makes up 15-20% of its home market in hardware and software sales. Already this year, we've seen plenty of new games announced for the Vita, that will probably make their way here as the Japanese publishers need to sell more copies now to justify development expenses.

Also there's the release list, it looks pretty healthy, even if a few titles get cancelled or developers fail. And as we wade into 2017, the games keep coming with new announcements from western devs starting to trickle through, yep, only a trickle but that's all we really need.

I think this basically means us Vita owners, and the few newcomers who can find a unit are finding themselves part of a slightly crazy family, 

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