Vita sales drop sharply in Japan

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By Kyle Orland

After a Japanese launch weekend that saw nearly 325,000 people buy Sony's new PlayStation Vita portable game console, the system's sales dropped significantly in its first full week on store shelves.

Sony sold just over 72,000 Vita units to Japanese consumers in the week ending Dec. 25, according to tracking firm Media Create.

Such a drop in sales isn't unheard of for a newly launched system, as the initial crowd of eager early adopters often gives way to a smaller but steadier audience for day-to-day sales. But the extremely steep 78 percent drop is historically large for the period immediately following a Japanese system launch. The Nintendo 3DS, by contrast, fell off by only 44 percent in the week after its launch weekend peak of nearly 375,000 sales this March.

Nintendo's system, meanwhile, saw its strongest week of Japanese sales yet in the run up to Christmas, selling over 480,000 units to consumers in the country and contributing to over 4 million total Japanese sales since its debut.

The 3DS' sales fortunes began their turnaround after an abrupt July price drop lowered it to the equivalent of about $190 in Japan. But earlier this year, Sony said the Vita, which retails for the equivalent of $317 in Japan, didn't need to lower its price in light of the competition from the 3DS.

“We have a very good product at a very affordable price,” Sony Consumer & Products Services President Kaz Hirai told Bloomberg in August. “There’s no need to lower the price just because somebody else that happens to be in the video game industry decided they were going to.”

As Sony looks towards a February European and North American launch for the Vita, it can only hope consumers will begin to see the value of its higher-priced hardware in greater numbers.

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Kyle Orland has written hundreds of thousands of words about gaming since he started a Mario fan site at the age of 14. You can follow him on Twitter or at his personal website, KyleOrland.com.