Sony sold 321,000 PS Vita units in its first two days of release, but failed to match the two-day sales of the Nintendo 3DS.
Sony sold 321,000 PS Vita units in its first two days of release, but failed to match the two-day sales of the Nintendo 3DS. Reuters/Kim Kyung Hoon

Since the device debuted in Japan on Dec. 17, Sony has reportedly sold more than 321,000 Playstation Vita units within the first two days of release. The PS Vita won't be officially released in the U.S. or Europe until Feb. 22, 2012, but so far, Sony has outdone its previous portable gaming system in early sales estimates. The Playstation Portable, which debuted back in 2004 and has sold about 73 million units to date, only sold about 166,000 units in its first day of release.

The PS Vita failed to outsell Nintendo's newest portable, the 3DS, which sold 371,000 units in its first two days on the market. On the other hand, launch sales have had little impact on a device's overall success. The Amazon Kindle Fire, and even the Nintendo 3DS, had sold incredibly well in its first few days of release but neither are considered to be breakthrough hits.

Many new owners of the PS Vita have already reported several bugs and glitches. Some users have taken YouTube videos demonstrating the issues, which range from frozen screens from devices that refuse to shut down.

Sony released a statement apologizing to customers for any inconvenience, and the company also offered a few simple workarounds for the most common issues.

The PS Vita, which integrates aspects of mobile and console gaming, features a 5-inch OLED screen, front and rear cameras, dual analog sticks, Six-Axis motion control, front and rear touchscreen controls, a GPS, and runs on AT&T's 3G/Wi-Fi Mobile Broadband Network. The system also accommodates downloadable apps like Facebook, Twitter and Skype, and also includes a nice feature that allows gamers to upload and backup their PS Vita games, photos, videos and music to the hard drive of their Playstation 3 console.

The PS Vita is Sony's attempt to transition into mobile gaming. Everything about the system, from the blend of analog sticks and touchscreen controls to its slim smartphone-looking form factor, demonstrates how badly Sony wants to put a dent in the mobile gaming market.

Roughly 77 percent of the world's population now owns a cell phone, and as a result, mobile games have exploded in popularity and profitability; in fact, the mobile gaming industry is expected to report revenue of $8 billion this year. The best example of mobile gaming potential is Angry Birds, which has already surpassed 250 million downloads to become one of the most popular games of all-time, not just in the mobile category.

The fact is, the advent of the iPhone in 2007 and the App Store in 2008 completely revolutionized the gaming landscape. Downloading apps is an easy and rewarding experience; so far, the more than 500,000 apps have been downloaded 18 billion times from the App Store, with games making up the vast majority of user downloads. A Nielsen report also reveals that 93 percent of mobile users are willing to pay for a game, while 64 percent of users who downloaded an app over the last 30 days have downloaded at least one game.

Sony's prime competitor in the games space Nintendo has long resisted the temptation to go mobile.

This is absolutely not under consideration, said Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo. If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo. [Making mobile games is] probably the correct decision in the sense that the moment we started to release games on smartphones we'd make profits. However, I believe my responsibility is not to short-term profits, but to Nintendo's mid- and long-term competitive strength.

As the company chooses to instead pursue 3D technology, Nintendo's loss in the mobile space leaves an incredible opportunity for Sony. The PS Vita is more expensive than most iPhones and other Android smartphones, but with the ability to synchronize content between Sony's handheld and PS3 devices, customers will no doubt be attracted by the system's unique features and exclusive games.

Sony released 24 games for the PS Vita's launch such as Little Big Planet and ModNation Racers, and the company will release even more games by the time the portable launches in the U.S., including new Rayman, Dynasty Warriors and Uncharted games.

The Wi-Fi-only version of the PS Vita will sell for $249, while the 3G option is available through AT&T for $299.