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Monday, December 19, 2011

Reports: Sony's new handheld, the PS Vita, sells 321,000 units in first two days in Japan

According to reports, Sony's new gaming handheld, the PS Vita, sold 321,000 units in its first two days in Japan. Now is this a good number or bad number? Well, we don't really know yet. There are many factors in play here.

Sony shipped 500,000 units between the two versions available for the Japanese launch: The more expensive 3G version and the regular WiFi unit. So launch day wasn't a total sellout, but we don't really know how many of each version were available and what they sold. There were claims that Sony shipped an additional 200,000 units to meet demand. Probably not true, but if so, that wouldn't bode well.

For comparison's sake the 3DS launched in February in Japan, and the first two days sales were slightly more at 371,000 units. But notice the time comparison. February is a slow time of year. PS Vita is shipping right smack in the holiday season and couldn't beat it. And that's with a much more favorable launch lineup than the 3DS had.

Nintendo also gave the PS Vita some tough competition recently, too. Japan loves, loves, loves the Monster Hunter series, and the new 3DS game, Monster Hunter 3G, sold more than 500,000 units between Dec. 5-11, according to Media Create. This boosted 3DS hardware sales to more than 350,000 that week alone. Don't forget about Mario Kart 7 or Super Mario 3D Land either. If the 3DS manages to top the PS Vita launch sales, Sony really won't be happy about that.

Of course, that's comparing a full week of 3DS to just two days of PS Vita sales, but the bigger the launch day sales, the bigger the demand is. Selling 321,000 units in a couple days is a healthy launch for the PS Vita, however I expected somewhere closer to the 400,000 range, since it is the holiday season and Sony's first gaming handheld, the PSP, was a hot item in Japan.

In the end, it's way early to determine the fate of the PS Vita. With any system, it's always what happens after the launch that gives you an idea on how successful a system is. The 3DS struggled mightily after a successful launch, but has since rebounded greatly. The hardcore techies will buy anything right away; it's how you get a hold of the stragglers that's real important.

The PS Vita launches Feb. 22 in Europe and the United States.

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