Sunday, February 19, 2012

How the Vita Should Have Been Released

Later this month, February, Sony will be releasing a new mobile gaming device to the market, the PlayStation Vita. With sales of the Vita in Japan really low, one has to ask why Sony has not jumped on board with making a handheld console that is also a phone? Consumers have shown that they want this as the Mobile gaming market is going strong. Developers from major publishers to indie developers are also jumping board. "What about the Xperia Play", you may be thinking. Well, here's the thing. The Play was built with one major idea in mind, gaming. What have gamers wanted with their phones? Controls. However, reviews of the Xperia Play, like this one, say that the "gaming controls are unresponsive".

So the main goal of the Play failed horribly. How should a true gaming phone be made, announced and released then?

If Sony wants to take over the handheld market and gain a percentage of market share, they need to make a Vita phone, or hand held phone. However, the current market of smart phones are controlled by Android and iPhone, with a 89% market share between the two of them. Should they make a custom OS or run on Android? Then you have to contend with the users having contracts for their current phones.

Before development, there should make an announcement, something short, that they are making a handheld phone. This will get the hardcore market talking, i.e. starting early buzz. During this time, they should work with the major and indie developers to determine the three levels of needs, "love to have", "should have", and the "bare essentials". With this list, find happy medium point that delivers as much as possible while maintaining a solid market price.

Next, start lining up the all star developer team and have them start developing games for the device, similar to Uncharted for the Vita. Even surprise the consumer by including a free AAA mobile phone game, like the Gameboy did back in the 80's. Yes this will be a money sink at first but it is time to show the consumer some love, especially from Sony. The more attractive we can make this product, the more likely the consumer will come to it.

Once they are about a year out from release, announce the date to the consumer market so they can start getting prepared, i.e. not re-up their contract. Also, start to have press events where the press can play with the device and get feedback from the consumers. What are they liking about it and not liking? Why?

As far as platform is concerned, in order to play nicely with more developers, it would be wise to have the Android platform installed with not wonky custom shops. Have everything built in natively and work with the Android market place for releasing games. By simplifying the purchase process will ease consumer annoyance with multiple shops and programs. This would be nice if Sony and Google can work out a deal that splits the royalties from the 30% that the Android market place takes.  If not, then a custom shop. (The publisher has to make their money somehow.)

Finally, showcase the product in more locations and cities than just LA and New York. Do a nationwide tour that hits all of the major cities in every state. An aggressive campaign will help drive the product. Then release the phone.

Well, this would be an ideal plan but building a gaming device that is a phone does raise some concerns. If a developer is trying to make an immersive game for the platform that could be interpreted at anytime, it causes some interesting design constraints. That is why Angry Birds is a great game. It can take a phone call at anytime and have the player comeback and not ask "where was I".

P.S. Why hasn't Google incorporated spell check from into their browser's spell check? We have the bandwidth. Do it!

No comments:

Post a Comment