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5 Reasons Why PlayStation Vita Will Fail

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Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) next portable gaming system now has a name. PlayStation Vita will hit the market later this year, hoping to give the beleaguered electronics giant a new shot at wooing die-hard gamers on the go.

It won't. Let me go over the reasons why Vita is dead before it was even officially birthed.

1. The name is silly
Vita? Is this a handheld or a new brand of vitamin water? Vita sounds more like fitness gear you'll see on a late-night infomercial, or a senior assisted living facility, than something you want to play with.

"Junior, did you remember to pack your Vita?"

That doesn't sound right, unless mom is talking about some chewable vitamin.

I realize I may be nitpicking here. We all laughed when rival Nintendo (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) went with "Wii" as the name of its console a few years ago, and it wound up revolutionizing the industry. I still don't like the name Sony went with.

2. The price is too high
When did handhelds begin costing more than consoles? Vita will hit retailers in time for the holiday shopping season at $249 for the Wi-Fi version and $299 for the 3G model.

Nintendo's 3DS already costs $249, so Sony isn't even trying to undercut its larger rival in portable gaming. Perhaps more importantly, Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) more versatile iPod touch sells for as little as $229.

Sony and Nintendo will argue that Apple isn't really a competitor, given the light nature of App Store diversions. But Apple now has 100,000 games and entertainment titles available, with many offered up by attention-seeking developers for a buck or less, if not free. There are now 200 million iPads, iPhones, and iPod touch devices running Apple's iOS, and 50 million people on Apple's GameCenter gaming platform.

Sony could've turned heads at $199. Instead, it will just shrug shoulders.

3. Sony blew it with its 3G carrier
Reports indicate that E3 attendees openly booed when Sony announced that AT&T (NYSE: T  ) would be Vita's exclusive 3G provider. Why would Sony go with a network frequently vilified in attack ads? AT&T is also expensive, limiting its appeal to cash-strapped teens.

Bulls will argue that years of AT&T exclusivity didn't get keep Apple's iPhone from becoming a trendsetting success, and that AT&T is making strides in improving its network. However, there's an even bigger reason why AT&T was the wrong choice.

Xperia Play -- the PlayStation-centric smartphone that Sony teamed up with mobile partner Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC  ) to put out last month -- is exclusively on Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) . Hard-core PSP fans are therefore flocking to Verizon Wireless. Now they're being told to buy a new handheld on a different wireless carrier? That just doesn't make sense.

4. Counting the days until the Vita hack
I'm not sure who has been hacking Sony's network over the past few weeks, but I don't want to bet against them.

"Nobody's system is 100% secure," Sony CEO Howard Stringer said in a Bloomberg interview last month. That's true, but Sony's been made a target, which could well be a dealbreaker for folks who've grown fond of keeping their personal information and credit card data secure.

One of the games announced, Ruin, will be available for both the PS3 and Vita. Server-stored saves will allow gamers to keep playing as they go from one platform to another. Folks normally get excited about any cloud-computing initiatives, but for Sony, this cloud's looking ominously stormy.

5. Handheld platforms are a dying breed
The 3DS may have sparked some initial interest, but smartphones, tablets, and media players have redefined the portable gaming market.

If you don't believe me, just watch Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) . I have my beefs with Mr. Softy, but the world's largest software company has at least gotten gaming right. The Xbox 360 is making the most of Sony's hacking fiasco and the Wii's flimsy spec sheet. Microsoft gets gaming. So where is its handheld?

Microsoft could have easily morphed its Zune into a PSP-DS rival, but it didn't. Instead, its handheld efforts rest largely on mobile operating systems.

Critics will argue that Microsoft isn't an innovator -- that it copies the success of others on a larger scale. Well, what does it tell you that Microsoft isn't paying attention to the 3DS or the Vita?

When even Mr. Softy's laughing at you, you know your technology's doomed.

Is Rick wrong? Does Vita have a shot? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of AT&T, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy, and it's more vital than Vita.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz doesn't even know where his PSP is, though he does use his PS3 often to stream movies. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

Read/Post Comments (16) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2011, at 1:14 AM, Trapper02 wrote:

    You sir are not a gamer.

    All systems have been hacked, iphone, Wii, 360, PS3, PSP, iPad, DS. That point is moot it will be hacked just like all the others before it.

    Serously the name is a reason for FAIL? Gamers would by a console "Happy Brown Dog Poopsie" if it had awesome games.

    Price? $250 is is not bad for all the tech sony has put in it. $250 for 3DS and $500 for a iPad I'd say Vita is priced just right based on its specs. $200 would be great but lets be realistic.

    ATT ehhhhhhh have to agree-ish. my solution simple, get the wifi only version, ad use PDAnet as a wifi hotspot and boom your PSV is now connected no need for a 3g model. I know this will not work for everyone but will probably work for alot.

    Finally handhelds dying? Nah, smartphones, tablets are that, handhelds that all play games. If I want a good engaging game on a portable I look to Nintendo and SONY. Not another rehash of angry birds or desktop defender. As long as car rides are long, flights are long, or trips to grandmas still exist handhelds will be there to entertain the masses cause you can't take your home console with you.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2011, at 11:07 AM, nokternal wrote:

    I agree with the first comment made by Trapper. The name of the console or gaming device will not deter gamers, if you really believe that this is the case you need to do more research. You can not compare apples games to console games because they are totally different. I cant imagine trying to play a game on the iphone for hours without putting it down. Apples games are meant for short burst of entertainment such as commuting on a public transportation. Good luck trying to play Uncharted or call of duty on Apples device.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2011, at 2:52 PM, ghdkowwfjfh wrote:

    what a terrible article. really? in an era where a console named the Wii outsold traditionally named consoles like the 360 and PS3, you're gonna try the lame-o early criticism of the name. i won't even get into the rest of it, but starting off your article with such weak arguments when you are claiming "here are 5 reasons it will fail!!!" is hilariously sad.

    oh, and no, i won't be buying one myself, but for real reasons, not the silly things in this article.

  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2011, at 4:59 PM, Ibmformat wrote:

    Gameplay on the Apple products leaves a lot to be desired. It's a small screen and a lot of the real estate is taken up by your thumbs (thinking a FIFA or driving game), Vita will be a winner because it has more processing power and better controls, additionaly as a parent I'd rather buy into a product that has a lifecycle of at least 4 or 5 years, whereas apple phones change every 12-18 months.

  • Report this Comment On June 10, 2011, at 1:18 PM, salarus wrote:

    Well Rick, your article is pretty much awful in every conceivable way. It makes complete generalities for every person on the planet. You are obviously also not aware that PSP and DS are huge in other parts of the world...I know, it's amazing that not every product launched is not specifically targeted to Americans, can you believe it!

    Most of your points are beaten down by the first poster, so I won't rehash. Suffice to say, you may want to look for another profession. Your journalism skills leave much to be desired.

  • Report this Comment On June 11, 2011, at 4:36 PM, intelx1000 wrote:

    1vita isnt that bad of a name

    2price is fine have you seen it ever in your life

    3you dont have to (and probably wont) get the 3g version

    4you dont have to get on the internet.

    5handhelds are going to be around until people dont leave there house any more.

    -research things next time instead of posting random bull crap : P

  • Report this Comment On June 12, 2011, at 3:01 PM, JoTwo wrote:

    I can't argue with any of the other comments, but to say if your investment advice is as wrong as your theory on the Vita, you are sir, a very Motley Fool. Keep your opinions on things you know nothing about to yourself.

    1. name? Ever hear the expression 'book by it's cover'? I'm not PLAYING the NAME. IPOD, now there's a good name!

    2. You obviously haven't been shopping w/anyone with a hobby they love.

    3. Choice is a GOOD thing. CASH STRAPPED TEENS? Most serious gamers are in their 40's.

    4. Hackers, pirates, politicians: protect yourselves.

    5. A dying breed? Are you mad; you yourself just mentioned enough gaming devices to blow YOURSELF out of the water.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2011, at 10:31 AM, TrtL06 wrote:

    Let me guess you have absolutely no knowledge or experience dealing with anything remotely concerning gaming unless it has something to do with the iPod, iPad or Wii Resort or Wii sports series. Your editor then assigned you a deadline for an E3 or gaming industry related story, and this was the best you could do....Right?

    1. as a consumer when it comes to the name of a system, I couldn't care any less if it was called the ps CaCa, as long as I can enjoy a quality gaming experience.

    2. Get checked for Head Trauma, it's a $20-30 difference b/t the iPod and the DS/Vita. If that really influences your decision to go with the former, chances are you're not a gamer

    3. Who Cares there's a WiFi and a 3G version

    4. you are aware that you don't have to supply a CC# to own a PSN acct and that they make PSN Cards

    5. By redefined you mean providing an experience worthy of a free or 1.99 purchase? Well if your idea of redefining is Angry Birds or Fruit ninja then you truly are a fool. Please don't quit your day job

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2011, at 7:49 PM, 200361 wrote:

    you stupid *** mother ****** *****, you probably dont even own a gaming system, you so lonely you made a post about something you dont even know about, i was googling stuff, and you just copied and pasted this article, yea, we got you stupid

  • Report this Comment On June 18, 2011, at 11:56 PM, vitralizer wrote:

    1. I agree 100%, as NGP is a far better name for it.

    2. I find the price rather reasonable, seeing how the original PSP was $250 when it was released. I was surprised at how cheap it was for the price, especially for the launch.

    3. No one wants to play games on 3G. I think Sony should've pushed Sprint to increase 4G coverage and gone with Sprint.

    4. The NGP getting hacked is only going to push sales of the unit, and will add so many wonderful emulators. Personally, I am speculating that Sony will incorporate Android into the NGP to avoid such problem.

    5. Not everyone wants a smartphone, and the more youthly users opt to buy the iPod Touch instead of the iPhone.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 3:23 PM, GettingtobeaGuru wrote:

    I bought a DS when it first came out, and then returned it to get a PSP when I realized how much better they were. It may be completely different for other people but at least for me for playing long periods of time (read more than 5 minutes) realism will win out over angry birds type gameplay any day.

    Also the hacks possible was one of the main reasons I bought a PSP, I never did get windows 95 running on it, but trying was half the fun.

    Now it seems to me with over 7 million MW2, and over 12 million Black ops being sold on the Xbox360 alone the hard core gamer is still very much alive and buying. And if the Vita can offer a different more realistic experience than the 3DS or a smart phone Sony will do well for itself.

  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2011, at 3:28 PM, GettingtobeaGuru wrote:

    Also if Sony sells games on the Vita for 49 dollars, and the Iphone sells games for 5 dollars, if they even sell them (for a price above free) at all. Each Sony game is bringing in 10 times the gross profit.


    This doesn't take into account developing costs, and what percentage Sony or Apple makes on games they don't develop themselves (which I believe is almost all of what Apple does), but are sold for use on their consoles (something I know nothing about, so if you have any info on how that's done I'd love to hear it)

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 11:17 PM, VolkOseba wrote:

    6) Sony is using proprietary memory again... the 3ds uses SD cards.

  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2011, at 11:37 PM, TMFNewCow wrote:

    Wow, lot of passionate handheld gamers here.

    The price point is a travesty, because handhelds are on their way out. I've been a gamer all my life and will never buy a dedicated handheld gaming device.

    Sony will never stop trying to hook people with proprietary formats.

    The Vita will fail.

    -- Evan

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2011, at 11:01 PM, trestranpryat wrote:

    You have no idea what your talking about people bought Nintendo entertainment systems for 300+ bucks 20 years ago now imagine what that's like for a price now probably 500? 600 bucks? inflation is a bitch... for this economy and that amount of tech Sony has always done an amazing job to make their products cheaper even if it means it hurts their profits a bit (doesn't anyone remember the high price for a ps3 and that barely covers their costs!!!) Sony is a business yes they want us to buy their products to make money off us just like any other company your on your knees for they mostly don't care for you Sony tries to put some love and care for their products you had absolutely no solid reasons why they will fail and verizon is barely a point to make theres other countries out there besides america you loser that doesn't have that issue... BUT HEY I GUESS BY YOUR LOGIC THE IPHONE FAILED yeah too bad that IPHONE was LOCKED to a PROVIDER and there was NO WAY TO UNLOCK IT YEAH WHAT A SHAME THAT THE IPHONE FAILED OH WELL....

    seriously who ever is running this site fire Rick Aristotle Munarriz and black list this loser make sure he never gets work again every gamer that's insulted but this article remember his name make this article haunt him for the rest of his life!!!!

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2011, at 1:39 PM, caliburner wrote:

    The name won't put anyone off. By your same reasoning, one could argue that the Nintendo Wii sounds like urine, far worse than a console sounding like a vitamin, yet the Wii sold extremely well.

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