The Playstation Vita is having a bit of a rocky start in Japan. Strong numbers one week, and then such a dive in the numbers of sold systems the next week that it was actually trailing behind the PSP. Obviously that is going to look really bad on Sony's stock reports. But I don't own any of Sony's shares so none of that matters to me, nor the average consumer (that's you!).
What does matter to me is the price of the product I'm buying. Personally, I almost never buy a system brand new. My PS3 was bought used, my 3DS was bought broken and fixed, and I don't exactly see the trend ending when the PSVita officially releases at the end of the month. This means I'm probably going to be waiting around for a while before I can get a good deal on the system. For those of you holding out hope for a legitimate price drop in the near future on the other hand, I've got some bad news. It just isn't going to happen- here's why...
The Production Costs Are Not The Total Cost Of The Vita
Recently it was revealed that the total production cost of a Playstation Vita comes in at about $160 in parts and pieces. The immediate backlash being that "If it only costs $160 to make, then the price should be dropped!" The problem with that is the fact that Sony has to pay for the product to be made, they have to pay to ship the products all over the world, they don't get the full $250 for every Vita sold, and the system has already put them hundreds of millions of dollars into the hole due to research and testing just to get the final product they have today.
"It would be cheaper to sell them out of the back of a van." Said Kaz Hirai from the back of the van he was living in.
Even if they manage to make a profit off of each sold after all the different costs listed above, they're still far from making a single dollar in profit back anytime soon thanks to all the time and money that went into making the system to begin with. So much money has gone into making the Vita, that Sony has come out saying in interviews that they doubt the Vita hardware will begin making them any profit whatsoever for three years. For the next three years Sony is relying on a strong install base and software sales to make the Vita a success. Personally, I would have given up at the drawing board.
If There Isn't A Price Drop, Then What Is The Best Deal For A Vita?
As I've said earlier, I'm a spend thrift. If I think I can get something cheaper by waiting, then I'm going to wait. In the past I've gone so far as to buy broken systems and fix them up to save a nice chunk of change. I managed to buy a Nintendo 3DS for $90 when it was still $250 because of a dead battery, a $3 fix for me. But unfortunately, I just don't think that will be possible for the Playstation Vita.
While opening up a system can be scary, there aren't too many things to worry about. With a Vita, the two most important components (the touchscreen and touchpad) are very easy to break once you get inside the system, and they're also the most expensive pieces to replace. Way too much risk for me, but for any of you willing to take a risk, this would probably be the cheapest route.
"Vita in balneo" That's the classiest poop joke you'll ever see.
You could also go the used route, but if you go by used sales for the 3DS on Ebay, you're only looking at about $10-$40 saved on just the system alone, which would be a loss on your part thanks to the different bundles you're likely to see released in the near future. Don't believe me? Its already happening. While Sony can't afford to lower the price of the Vita, that doesn't mean they can't add things into the package to sweeten the pot for potential buyers.
Places like Amazon are offering a pre-order package for the 3G Vita and this is what it comes with: an 8 gig memory card, a free game, and a Vita traveling case- all for $299. And while I have no interest in the 3G version of the Vita, it currently is the best deal (value-wise) that you're going to find on the system. Hopefully after the release of the Vita we'll see more bundles popping up, some that will even include the much preferred WiFi version of the Vita, no doubt.
While the Playstation Vita does have a bumpy road ahead of it, there's no doubt it will eventually hit its stride. Could a release in the West be the thing that really knocks Vita sales out of the park? I certainly don't know. But either way you should be on the lookout. Just because there won't be any price drops soon doesn't mean you won't be able to find a good deal. Broken, used, bundled, or some other crazy option I forgot to list! There's always a deal to be had somewhere.
As always, thanks for reading! Do you have any comments to share on your hopes for a price drop, or maybe you want to see the Vita fail? Either way, feel free to leave your comments below.