Will the New PS Vita Slim Be Enough?
You may have heard about the release of the new Playstation Vita Slim, a redesign of the Vita design that's 20% thinner and 15% lighter with an extra hour of battery life. You can read more about Sony's recent reveal here. But the real question is, will this slight alteration of the Vita's specs be enough to capture the attention of the hand held gaming market?
It's no secret that Nintendo has been dominating portable gaming this generation; and in fact, the 3DS seems to be the only thing keeping Nintendo afloat at the moment. That said, Sony isn't exactly monopolizing any other niche of the gaming industry over Nintendo—so will the PS Vita Slim be enough to change that?
With the 3DS still flying off the shelves, this was the perfect time for Sony to restructure their portable product to win some swing-vote customers who can't decide between the consoles—but with such minimal changes to the Vita's design it's hard to say if anybody will care enough to cough up the dough.
The percentages being thrown around to promote the Slim are almost laughably small. I almost wonder if Sony's ad campaign would benefit from not even mentioning them. 20% thinner may sound decent, but considering the fact that the original Vita is less than an inch thick already, a fraction-sized reduction comes out to make only millimetres of difference. And 15% lighter is an even smaller number that probably comes out to be a few grams; and as long as you're not toting around a few pounds in your pocket, does anybody really care about weight? I don't mean to criticize Sony, because any alteration in the design is likely to attract new customers. But Nintendo's early release of the 3DS XL boasted a staggering 90% larger screen, which is almost double the size without doubling the size of the actual machine. That's the kind of specification that turns heads.
The battery life of the Slim, I will say, is something to excited about—if even only an extra an hour. And battery life, in general, is an advantage the Vita has always had over the 3DS's embarrassing three to four hours (if you're lucky). And of course, nothing can be criticized about the new colors offered by the Vita Slim. Sometimes seeing a device in your favorite color can be just enough to enchant you into buying it, so it's absolutely smart to offer as many choices as possible.
The downgrade to an LCD screen from an OLED is a loss akin to the 2D function of the new 2DS. However, as I stated in a previous article, the 2DS is not meant to reignite Nintendo's portable sales, while I feel the Vita Slim is trying to do exactly that for Sony.
They are doing a few things right. A price drop is always a great move that has proven effective in the past to rekindle sales. The 3DS was generating tons of depressing press about poor sales until the first price drop, and has done solidly ever since. But that was a long time ago. Sony's choice to wait this long to release a smaller, lighter console is curiously slow. Redesigning a console shortly after its release may seem like back-pedaling, but is actually a wise strategy Nintendo has used for many system generations. For the gamers on the fence about buying a new system, a quick redesign helps provide options and reinforce their want for something new. You may say “I don't think the 3DS looks that cool. I'll skip it.” Then you hear about 90% larger screens and you just can't resist. By now, loyal Sony fans have had plenty of time to commit to the Vita or decide they never want one.
I don't think that nobody will be interested in the Slim, but I don't think the tiny percentages and slight shave of price will work any miracles and help to beat out the 3DS in the hand held circuit. Even so, if I had neither of the Vita models and had to choose between them, I'd probably pick up a Slim. But will any previous Vita owners be willing to pay more money for a slightly skinnier clone of the original? The Slim hasn't been officially announced for a release outside of Japan yet, but when it does, do you think it'll make an impression?