Four days on from Saturday's PlayStation Vita launch, a murky picture is emerging in the press of an embattled Sony eager to make amends for technical difficulties with their next generation handheld games console, including inoperative touch-screens and system crashes. However, Sony today denies widespread technical issues.
Confusion has arisen about an apology (imperfect Google translation) published online by Sony. Though this has been widely interpreted as an apology for hardware problems, David Wilson of Sony UK told the U.K.'s Guardian today that this is merely an apology to customers struggling to get through to Sony's technical support department. Some had even gone so far as to suggest that, due to the speed with which Sony published the apology, the company was aware of hardware problems and prepared a statement in advance of the launch.
A guide published by Sony to assist Vita users in starting or restarting their device has been a source of further confusion, having been interpreted as a panicked response to help unfortunate users unbrick their consoles. Wilson denied this, saying that the guide featured "standard procedures" and had been published online "since before the launch."
Though Sony is yet to release official figures, video games magazine publisher Enterbrain has come up with a figure of 321,400 Vita sales in the first 48 hours after release. If accurate, this would represent a small shortfall of approximately 50,000 units compared to Nintendo 3DS launch for the two days after launch last February, though the BBC suggests that cold weather over the weekend may have deterred shoppers.
More telling will be the sales figures for the first weeks and months, which will give a stronger indication of the extent to which Vita's teething troubles (or reports thereof) will have hurt sales. It was in this equivalent period following the launch of the 3DS that the lack of triple-A software combined with an uncomfortably high price point of US$249.99 (reduced in August to $169.99) took their toll.
The Vita has the opportunity to gain ground on the 3DS on the strength of its rather more muscular launch lineup, which includes exclusive games in the Uncharted, Katamari, Marvel vs. Capcom, Dynasty Warriors, Lumines and Virtua Tennis series. The 3DS launch saw only two titles (in Ridge Racer 3D and Super Street Fighter IV 3D) of such caliber, but more egregious still was that it took until November for the release of a truly must-have title in Super Mario Land 3D (though Mario Kart 7 followed soon after). It remains to be seen if the high launch price of the PlayStation Vita (currently $249.99 for pre-order on Amazon.com) will deter the broader market.
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