Former Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton sat down and talked to IGN about the the PlayStation Vita, the company’s handheld gaming device released back in 2012. Tretton said that the PS Vita was a great device, but it arrived at a time when smartphones and tablets became popular for portable gaming.
“Now that I don’t work there anymore, I think it was: 'This is a great machine, it’s just too late,'” Tretton said during IGN’s Unfiltered podcast. “The world has shifted to portable devices that aren’t dedicated gaming machines.” Tretton left SCEA in 2014 after serving the company for 19 years.
Although the PS Vita impressed a lot of people for being capable of delivering a gaming experience that’s close to what a console could do, it was released in 2012 which was around the same time that smartphone games were on the rise. Majority of consumers reportedly preferred to buy a smartphone rather than a dedicated gaming handheld device and that hurt the PS Vita’s sales.
Sony was able to ship 2.2 million PS Vita systems in the United States during the first six months of its release, but there’s no official word now on how it is currently doing in the U.S. market. In Japan, the company sold more than five million units as of June 2016, according to Dual Shockers.
By comparison, the PS Vita’s predecessor, the PlayStation Portable (PSP), was a bigger hit with 21.41 million units sold in the U.S. and a total of 80.82 million worldwide. At the time, the PSP was the only system that was able to bring a console-like experience on a portable device and that attracted older gamers back into handheld gaming, Tretton said according to GameSpot.
Currently leading the handheld gaming market is Nintendo which, as of June 2016, was able to sell 59.79 million 3DS units globally. To be fair, the Nintendo 3DS did come out a year earlier than the PS Vita, and it has a lot of fan-favorite titles that are exclusive to the platform.
Sony has not made any announcements yet on whether it will be releasing a successor to the PS Vita, which is still available for as low as $200.