Although plenty of early-adopters worldwide have already pre-ordered the Play Station Vita for $349.99, optimistic penny-pinchers may want to hold their breath in the hopes that Sony or its retailers will drop the price in the weeks following the PS Vita's global release on February 22nd.

The PS Vita's sales figures in Japan since its release on December 17 indicate that, although the handheld gaming console will be met with early enthusiasm, global sales may drop significantly in the following weeks.

Following a hugely successful opening weekend in Japan in which Sony sold 321,000 units, PS Vita sales began to plummet. In its second week Sony sold 72,000 units in Japan. The downward trend continued as Japanese customers purchased around 40,000 units in the fourth week and again in the fifth week.

By week five, sales had dropped to 18,000 units. That's a 95 percent drop from the first week. Sony actually sold more units of their previous 2005 model, the Play Station Portable (PSP), than the PS Vita. Meanwhile, Nintendo's 3DS maintained a huge lead, selling 100,000 units despite the post-Christmas consumer decline. Reacting to sluggish sales, Japanese retailers have slashed the PS Vita's price by as much as 20 percent.

Back in 2005 when Sony first released the PSP they sold 3.6 million units in the first nine months. Sales did not start to decline significantly until 2007. In 2007 Sony dropped the PSP's price from $200 to $170, and were consequently able to maintain sales of 3.8 million units per year for two years. If the PS Vita's global sales decline as sharply as they did in Japan, Sony may have to consider lowering the price earlier than they did the last time.

Despite a weak response to the PS Vita from Japanese consumers, there is no evidence that Sony has any plans to lower their price, or is even considering the option.

There's no chance for a price cut, analyst Michael Pachter told Forbes. The price points for software are what I expected, and highlight the disparity between casual smartphone games and premium console-quality handheld games.

Pachet may be right. Then again, this is the guy who claimed Netflix was done for back in November.

Sony's best shot at strong sales for the global release on February 22nd may be its stable of unreleased high profile games. New versions of Assassin's Creed, Mortal Kombat and Call of Duty will be made available in the weeks following the PS Vita's release in an attempt to sustain profits.

If you can't resist pre-ordering Sony's newest toy than go for the $350 bundle, but it may be worth holding off in the hopes that the PS Vita's prices drops in the near future, or at least until the best games came out.

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