On December 17, the PS Vita launched in Japan. Sales were mixed: the Vita failed to surpass the 3DS in launch sales, but about half of the units shipped were sold. However, those who purchased the system at launch were greeted by numerous problems. A common issue was intermittent screen freezes, during which the touchscreen would be completely unresponsive. A video of this issue is shown below.
It doesn’t necessarily always fix itself; and when this occurs, the power button cannot be used for a normal power down. Instead, the user must hold the button to force a shutdown. There were also some reports of users being unable to turn on the system again even on a full charge.
There have also been issues with the launch day update, with some users experiencing an error and system freeze upon attempting install it. The exact message is shown in the video below:
In addition to this issue, there has also been a problem with using a pre-existing PSN account to update to the latest firmware. For some reason, the system will not allow the user to link a PSN account unless they have the latest firmware. However, it still asks the user if they’d like to use one, providing a confusing message that doesn’t directly tell them what they’re doing wrong. In order to circumvent this, the user must select the Do Not Use option when prompted whether or not they have a PSN account. This will then set up a temporary account to receive the update, and then you can link your PSN account once that’s complete.
To address these problems, Sony released a day one firmware patch, updating the firmware to v 1.50. This did not, however, prevent users from experiencing the issues before they got a chance to update or in the process of doing so in the case of the update failures. On the PlayStation web site, they apologized for the numerous problems and posted a troubleshooting guide for issues that can be fixed without an update.
Analysis: Well, Sony’s really screwing their launch. Their initial sales aren’t too bad, although the fact that they’ve failed to surpass the 3DS in initial sales is somewhat alarming considering the 3DS is generally held to have had a miserable launch. Despite this, the bad press generated by the numerous hardware issues will undoubtedly hurt their initial sales.
The Vita has some promising hardware and the largest number of launch titles Sony has ever had for a system. This gives it a distinct advantage over the 3DS, which suffered from barely any good launch titles. However, the Vita has numerous hidden costs and hardware issues are not helping its case. The system will likely do at least moderately well in Japan, but as we’ve seen with the PSP, it’s quite possible it could flop in the US. Sony needs to make sure these types of issues are not present in the North American release, which is likely ensured by the fact we’re getting it 3 months later, and also price things properly. The system is looking pricey to break into, and the economy here is terrible.