PlayStation Vita – East to West – The Call of Duty effect.

The PlayStation Vita is struggling in Japan. It’s being outsold by the 3DS by a ratio of 5:1 and rarely manages to outsell its older brother, the ever popular PSP (well, in Japan at least). Why is that? Well, other than a lack of genuine AAA launch titles, the big hit has obviously come from the news that Capcom’s hugely popular Monster Hunter series has jumped ship to Nintendo, leaving the Vita without the franchise that all but defined its predecessor in the land of the rising sun.

In terms of a comparable event in the West, I was going to suggest the idea of the Halo franchise jumping ship to Sony, but honestly, it’s bigger than that. Imagine if you will, Call of Duty being a Sony exclusive on the PS3, only for Microsoft to nab the rights for the next generation of consoles……that’s how big an effect we’re talking about here. With Monster Hunter in the bag alongside its usual array of quality first party output, it’s hard to see the Vita catching the 3DS at all in Japan. I know it’s early doors, but it’s already starting to look like something pretty special would need to happen to dramatically change the Vita’s fortunes in the East.

Looking to the West however, well, that’s where things could be very different indeed. While I don’t expect the Vita to fly of the shelves at launch in the West, I do think that it will get off to a better start than it has in Japan. What could potentially turn the Vita from a solid seller into a cash printing uber handheld however will be the introduction of the stupidly popular Call of Duty series. Don’t get me wrong, the 3DS, with its somewhat unique demographic and consistently brilliant first party support will always put up decent numbers over here, but if Activision deliver a true console quality Call of Duty port, well, that’s where the Vita could truly steal the show and subsequently change handheld gaming culture in the West forever.

You see, our friends in Japan have a very different approach to handheld gaming. Maybe it’s the lack of pikey bastards roaming the streets, but over there, social handheld gaming is a way of life. Be it on the Tokyo subway line or in the playground with friends, handheld gaming is something to be experienced with others (hence the wild popularity of Monster Hunter’s team based gameplay). Over here, handheld gaming is still something of a taboo for many people. Sure, we all play consoles at home, but on the bus to work? Not a chance. Call of Duty though, that could change everything.

Imagine being able to take your online stats from the PS3 version out on the road, racking up further kills as you continue to play online with friends when out on the move. If any game is going to make social handheld gaming a truly viable prospect in the West, Call of Duty has to be it. If Activision and Sony can truly create a console comparable Call of Duty title for Vita with cross platform stats, the Vita might just steal the handheld crown away from Nintendo……well, in the West at least.

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  • Gaming historian

    No No No No Call OF what. Over 20 years Nintendo have ruled the roost, power don’t mean anything in the handheld, as we have all seen time after time after time. Sony could have black ops on their Vita. But after the failings of Psp and the might of Gameboy, Gameboy pocke,t Gameboy color, Gameboy Advance, Gameboy micro, Nintendo DS, DSI, DSXL. And 3DS c-mon its well and truly over for Sony. I think they should focus at home, and try to fend of Microsoft instead of fighting a losing battle with their arch nemesis Ninty lol, Gumpie Yoko Died R-I-P And he took the secret of successful handheld gaming to the grave with him. And it is installed at Nintendo and well forever remain there. Sony you have done a few good things in the time after Nintendo dissed you, with not going through with the PlayStation 1. You had your time its all over now, focus on ps3 where your stronger thats what i say about sony.

    • joe moe

      ‘Sony you have done a few good things in the time after Nintendo dissed you, with not going through with the PlayStation 1. You had your time its all over now’

      You do realize the PS1 outsold the N64: 3 to 1
      Whilst the PS2 outsold the Gamecube: 8 to 1.

      I think Sony know how to make and sell great consoles.

    • Mounce

      Fanboys like yourself, ‘Gaming Historian'(More like Gaming Fanboy). Are the cancer that need to die.

      ‘Failing of the PSP’? Yea, where exactly is it failing with over 70 Million sold? Oh yea, totally a failure…. especially when it was Sony’s first attempt at making a handheld, oh but I don’t even need to list how many handhelds that Nintendo has made, you listed off quite a bit of the milking sprees of the reiterations of each ‘Gameboy’ and beyond.

      Only a fanboy, a delusional and pathetic one at that, as most of them are. Would think that PSP failed in any single way just because its sales aren’t neck and neck with Nintendo when the reality is they have Pokemon, they have their 1st party ‘Nostalgia-brainwashing’ and rabid fanboys like yourself to keep buying their products even if the hardware fails and has to be pricecut to $170 after launch. Oh wait, that was Nintendos’ 3DS…..Right, sorry bout that.

      Do a favor and rename yourself, History is meant to be a thing where Truth and facts get observed and written down. Not such can come from an illogical and an emotionally disgruntled, one-sided and biased individual like yourself, lol.

  • Alan

    Sorry Gaming Historian, i believe that the Vita will beat the 3DS. The power, games, overall look is just better. My humble thought.

    • True,True

      +1

  • tanto

    are you kidding? no it wont

    And your pretending like COD is exclusive. It isnt

    the ds and psp both got them and both didnt move units

    you know why?

    everyone who buys the game will do so on consoles or pc

  • Liam

    I think the 3DS will do just fine but over here, if Call of Duty rocks up, the Vita might well blow up……in a good way!

  • John

    Gaming historian

    The PSP did not fail at all what are you chatting about. To me Nintendo are as money grabbing as Activision. Nintendo systems are full of the same old crap. I go into GameStation and I walk past the Ds/3Ds section and all I see are Mario, Zelda, games Mario games where fun 20 years ago but there the same old same old now. Zelda games are ok but again same old same old.

    At least with Sony they try and get something new on board. Like Uncharted, God Of War, Modnation, Little Big Planet, Motorstorm ect.

    Nintendo fans are just sheep.

  • Callum O’Hare

    yeah… i don’t think the 3DS is exactly succeeding. I dont know a single person who owns one.
    Two of my friends and I have PSVitas. The DS however, that’s a different story.
    Almost all of my friends have a DS that they play Pokemon on. Heck, one of my buddies JUST bought another one cause his broke.

  • Rob

    I recently bought a Vita and im blown away. However your 100% right. COD is the monster hunter of the west. If Activision can pull it off on the Vita and transfer those stats to the over all PS3 data base one, good lord they will have a juggernaught on their hands.
    Its a absolute beast of a machine and it has perfect controls for a FPS, heck I think Uncharted actually controls better on the Vita due to the gyro assisted aiming. Great article!

  • IrishYort

    @ gaming historian….. um yeah! with the massive list of previous handhelds, why does it seem like the 3DS is somewhat of a massie gimmicky failure?! I know of 7 people with the 3DS, or should I say 1 person with the 3DS now, because 6 of them have traded it in for a preorder of a Vita. Doomed machine or not, they have all felt that the 3DS is piss weak in terms of gaming support (there are only 5 games that have a metacritic score of over 80%) and its been out for a year!
    If I were Nintendo, I would be very concerned that after Mario Kart and Super Mario 3D, they may have done their dash as they only appear to have 3 games that will rate well announced for the rest of the year.
    Power isn’t everything, you are correct. One look at the Dreamcast will show everybody that, but with minimal game support from good 3rd parties and a 3 trick pony in house development team, there is only a few decent games that Ninty can make in a year. Id be more concerned with that if i were you/them, Mr Fanboy. lol.
    Ninty need to focus on getting games on the system that are at least decent from other developers. After the stupid blunder that they designed a machine without a 2nd analog, they have now fixed that, sort of, it still isnt an analog and it looks stupid and now is bigger than the Vita, developers still dont like it. And they really didnt like it that much before either. The West will be won by the support of popular games, release of Bioshock Vita, COD Vita and a few 2K sports games like NFL, NHL and NBA and the Vita will be the machine to own for many people. And it will only take a few exclusive RPG games like a Monster Hunter and a few other FF style games for them to start taking back Japan too.

  • GodNOOOOOOO

    PLEASE NO! Please don’t INFECT the Vita with the COD disease!!! With it’s greater game development process…they will be releasing COD’s MONTLY!! DAME YOU COD’s…..

  • Alan

    Well said Yort 🙂 agree 100%

  • Honestly, I think there is a place for both of them…….but over here, if they do it right, man, COD will be a beast on Vita……..and anyway – it should do well – the Vita is a marvelous piece of kit. I don’t want to shit on the 3DS, but the Vita is the superior product and if Sony support it properly, people will buy it.

  • joe somebody

    COD is going to be so big for the vita as long as its the same game in every way. its the most popular game in the west, to this day it still breaks sales records. the 3ds is a n64 and its a console for game two generation ago and noting more, the vita is a current gen console and thats its biggest strength.

  • COD on Vita is going to be a beast.