As Gamescom Closes, Vita Sales Still Holding Steady In Japan

E3 already feels like it was a long time ago and it was just prior to that show when we last took a comparative look at the PS Vita’s sales performance in Japan. At the time it was broadly expected that the PS Vita would be a significant part of Sony’s E3 presentation. Instead that honour seemed to go to Wonderbook of all things.

We were certainly wrong about the PS Vita getting a convincing showing at E3 but we also fully expected the PS Vita to get a late June boost in Japan from the release of the white PS Vita and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. From our first look at the sales performance of the PS Vita taking into account the broader trends in the Japan videogames console market, the PS Vita has been maintaining around a 7% share of the overall unit sales.

The sales data is now available for the week preceding this year’s Gamescom (week ending 12th August) so it includes another eleven weeks of numbers. Why take another look now? The consensus seems to be that from a gaming perspective, Sony, and especially the PS Vita, gave a better ‘showing’ at gamescom than they did at E3.

In summing up the strength of the PS Vita’s gamescom showing it is hard to do better than Peter did when responding to a migrating troll that happened to stop by as it was passing:

  • tentpole 3rd party partnerships with massive publishers just before Christmas.
  • bundle deals to entice franchise die-hards.
  • adding system-wide features that fans have requested.
  • opening up the massive potential in historical catalogue.
  • securing a mobile ecosystem that could rain down money.
  • showcasing it as a 2nd screen strategy – the hot topic in current consoles.
  • demonstrating key franchise interoperability with LBP2 on PS3.
  • announcing it will be included in PS+ promotions.
  • announcing several new games for it.
  • scheme to buy 1st party retail titles once, play on PS3 and Vita.
  • showing one of PlayStation’s key current gen franchises (KZ:Mercs).

You, the community, seem to have been responding positively too with a number of you suggesting in the comments that you are now seriously considering a PS Vita where you hadn’t been convinced by its offerings before now.

Being a European conference, Gamescom will have a smaller effect on Japanese gamers than will the Tokyo Games Show which runs for four days from the 20th September but some of the gamecom positivity is likely to reach the shores of the Japanese archipelago nevertheless. Right, time for some graphs.

(Sales of the PS2, 360, DSi and DSi LL are not included in the figures used for this article to keep the dataset smaller. Their combined weekly sales are typically significantly less than the Wii records by itself so their absence makes a negligible difference.)

The magnitude of the 3DS’ holiday sales squeezes the other consoles together too much in the lower part of the graph so as we have done previously here are the same numbers with the y-axis capped at one hundred thousand units.

Key points on that graph are the sales boosts the PS Vita saw from the likes of Metal Gear Solid HD, Persona 4 and its white incarnation. You can see the impact that the release of the 3DS LL (known as the 3DS XL in the West) has had on sales of the original 3DS.

And the dramatic effect an anticipated game can have on hardware sales, especially when it’s available as a bundle. In this case the game was Dragon Quest X and the console was the Wii, which went from 6,750 sales one week to 41,415 the next. A sales increase of over 500%. Will the holiday season PS Vita bundles have a similar effect?

The thing we can take away from the red line on the above graph is that, until the release of the 3DS LL distorted the picture, the overall sales of videogame consoles was continuing the downward trend it’s been on for much of the year.

The big thing for Sony and its fans though will be how the PS Vita significantly grew its share of the market for the seven weeks prior to the 3DS LL’s release. While the PS Vita’s weekly sales have fallen back from their highs they have for the moment settled around the 9,000 mark which is a couple of thousand higher than it was sitting before the end of June.

We can only say time will tell on that one and remember even if the PS Vita is doing much better in Japan, sales throughout the rest of the world may not reflect it. Remember that in Japan the Xbox 360 is still regularly outsold by the PS2 on a weekly basis.

Lastly, just for fun, here is the comparison of 3DS and PS Vita sales normalised to their respective launches, so it shows launch week sales for the 3DS against launch week sales for the PS Vita and so on for each handheld’s sales following their launches.

The last time we looked at this particular comparison we’d reached that little point in week 24 when the PS Vita had outsold the 3DS. The following week the 3DS’ dramatic price cut took effect and you can see the magnitude of the change that that wrought. In comparison, the small boosts the PS Vita got at the end of June look fairly pitiful.

While you can already see that the sales volumes of the 3DS dwarf those of the PS Vita here are some numbers to help you make the comparison. In the first 35 weeks from launch the 3DS sold 2,146,713 units while the PS Vita has sold 873,186. That may sound bad enough but during the time the PS Vita has been on sale the 3DS has sold 3,450,911 units and the new 3DS LL is up to 334,386 after just three weeks.

While these comparisons are fun, remember that what is important is not whether one console is winning or losing. The important thing is building an installed base that is sufficiently large to attract both developers and other consumers.

For what it’s worth, personally I think the PS Vita is probably doing okay all things considered. Would we all, and especially Sony, like to see it doing better? Sure, but it still has time. That will change if it fails to capture consumer’s hearts over the all-important holidays though.

Do you feel a lot more positive about the PS Vita than you did before E3? Have you been out and bought a PS Vita on the strength of its Gamescom showing?.



  1. I’m not sure I feel more positive about the future than I did, perhaps more hopeful though. As a 3DS and PS Vita only gamer (no home console anymore) I’m perhaps a niche within a niche. I was hoping for more PSN games making the hop across from the PS3 but perhaps the extra development outweighs the possible gains?

    I’ll be picking up all the big games from this show eventually and although I use my Vita almost daily it has taken a back seat since NSMB2 popped up on Friday.

    I just hope both these handhelds make a big enough impact for the handhelds future to be secure.

  2. As a diehard hater of handheld gaming (pre-vita) I really want the Vita to succeed – ironic being the only handheld that I actually like (love even) it’s the handheld what seems to be in trouble.

    I guess the reason I like it so much is because it is like having a ps3 in your hand.

    And looking forward to AC3:Liberation and Killzone : Merc looks nice.

    However I will be importing Persona 4 : The Golden as no sign of Euro release as RPG’s are the one main lacking on Vita atm.

    COD I couldn’t care less about..

  3. I fear that Sony has done a “PS3” to the Vita during the incubatory period – meaning that Sony hasn’t read the market correctly and has come in with some expensive kit which is putting people off. Sure, it might blossom later on but I really wanted to see the Vita win the hearts and minds of gamers across the globe.

  4. I am a vita owner, surprisingly one of the ony consoles I have bought on launch day. I wasn’t dissapointed by the launch titles and actually play them more than my recently procured vita MGS collection.
    I was pretty dissapointed by the e3 showing, after how Sony dealt with the psp, and after moving away from that name I thought it was a fresh start but the showing was a little pathetic.
    After gamescom however I do feel a lot more positive. Mostly the reasons u cited up top, I think they heard the consumers and want to show us we haven’t wasted our money, and if enough people wanna get on board then I hope they will keep up the momentum.

  5. As a vita owner gamescom was what I hoped E3 would be. Before E3 I was hoping for PS+ for Vita, a commitment from Sony to the policy of “Cross Buy”, a look at the new KZ game and some new games to look forward to. gamescom delivered all those.

  6. as a Vita owner after watching gamescom I feel things will keep getting better, hoping for Monster Hunter & Resident Evil game announcements at TGS.

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