Sony’s first entry into the handheld market was originally very successful although it struggled to match the appeal of the Nintendo DS. Despite this, the PSP had a great library of games, and became quite popular as an emulation device. During the last decade, the market has changed at a rapid pace due to the advent of smartphones and mobile gaming. This means, that the dedicated handheld sector is quite niche, and extraordinarily difficult to get a return of investment. Clearly, the exception to this rule is the Nintendo 3DS which continues to sell remarkably well in Japan despite mobile puzzle games being very successful in the Asian market. Perhaps this is down to Nintendo’s incredible software library, and selection of exclusive games you simply cannot experience on a mobile handset.
In contrast to this, the PlayStation Vita didn’t appeal to a large number of people and resulted in poor system sales. To be perfectly frank, this is Sony’s own fault and I’m sure they could have forged a larger community to keep their handheld section profitable. Instead of adopting a respectful attitude, the company forced users to pay absurd prices for proprietary memory, which didn’t even come with the console. As you might expect, this deterred many consumers from investing because it increased the asking price by a significant amount.
Later on, Sony launched the PlayStation TV, which is a tiny console designed for media streaming and capable of playing Vita games on a large screen TV. However, the console’s lack of a gyroscope and microphone meant certain features couldn’t be used in the same manner as Sony’s handheld device. On another note, Sony did a terrible job marketing the console and didn’t provide a clear message about its functionality. It’s a shame because the console has a lot of potential and should have done better with proper software support.
As expected, Sony has officially discontinued the PlayStation TV in the USA and Europe, although it’s still in stock from some retailers. When this stock disappears, I doubt the retail channels will be replenishing their supply.