Sony’s recent prediction that it would sell less than 5 million Vitas during FY2014 is a worst case scenario, one executive has explained – with good chances for the portable to turn around.
“Looking back at the performance of different consoles over the course of history, sometimes you’ve had slow starts which have been suddenly sprung into life by a number of activities. What you don’t say ahead of time is, ‘Oh this will and that will happen, and suddenly we’ll have a massive spike in sales.’ It’s not the sort of thing that companies do.”
Speaking to Gamasutra, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe senior business development manager Shahid Kamal Ahmad – best known for his approachability and friendliness to indie developers – said Sony’s forecast for investors does not take account of upcoming initiatives which may see the platform’s performance improve.
“Sometimes things can happen and they can dramatically change the evolution in terms of sales of a platform,” he said.
“But what you can never do is say ‘We’re definitely counting for this kind of increase.’ So you can put plans into motion and say ‘We’re trying this approach, that approach,’ and if something comes off, it’s going to be fantastic.”
Ahmad said one example of a surprising success is Thomas Was Alone, which was ported from PC to PS3 and Vita recently, and immediately become the best-selling game on the PSN.
“I had no idea there was going to be the amount of press attention that there was around Thomas Was Alone,” he said.
“If I’d put something like that in the original plan that I put together for engaging with the development community, I would have been laughed out of the office.
“It’s really funny, because I’ve spoken to a few people about it today internally, and they’ve all accepted it as ‘Yeah, of course that was going to happen!’ So in hindsight it’s easy to say that this event and that event is what caused a change in course dramatically, but to say that in advance is usually not appropriate or sensible.”
Ahmad said that he’s only a tiny part of Sony and can’t speak for its corporate performance, but suggested we not give up on the Vita yet.
“Looking back at the performance of different consoles over the course of history, sometimes you’ve had slow starts which have been suddenly sprung into life by a number of activities,” he said.
“What you don’t say ahead of time is, ‘Oh this will and that will happen, and suddenly we’ll have a massive spike in sales.’ It’s not the sort of thing that companies do.”
Regarding the Vita’s games drought, the executive said that “there isn’t a console in history where making sure that you have content for it wasn’t an issue”. Interestingly, he said he doesn’t expect the PS4 to have as much trouble.
“I think we’re going to have a really good launch, and I think we’re going to have a good amount of content appearing for quite some time on that,” he said.
“We’ve got more developer engagement on PS4 than we’ve had for any previous console, so that’s a really healthy sign.”
The rest of the article contains some interesting discussion of Sony’s new friendliness to indies; Ahmad is one of the most forthright executives in the industry at the moment, so his comments are well worth a read.