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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sony apologises as PlayStation Vita complaints rise

Sony has issued an apology and software update after a barrage of complaints about its new handheld console.

The PlayStation Vita went on sale in Japan at the weekend. Users have described unresponsive touchscreens, crashes and freezes.

Glitches in new consoles are not unusual, but experts have been surprised by the number of related postings sent to Twitter and YouTube.

Local reports suggest over 300,000 devices were sold over two days.

The console boasts a gyroscope, accelerometer and electronic compass beneath its 5in (12.7cm) OLED touchscreen as well as front and rear mounted cameras.

However, complaints of technical issues have threatened to take the shine off the launch, prompting the company to issue a statement on its PlayStation site.

"Currently, our information centre regarding PlayStation Vita as well as our usual customer service centre are receiving many enquiries. We apologies if your phone isn't connected straight away," it said.

"Some issues regarding PlayStation Vita can be addressed by simple procedures at home," it added, going on to provide a list of questions and answers to tackle problems including the console refusing to start-up.

In addition the firm has released a firmware update that users must install if they wish to be able to continue going online with the device.

Experts said that other manufacturers had bounced back after facing similar early setbacks.

"One of the biggest problems Microsoft faced with its early Xbox 360 consoles were 'Red Ring of Death' failures - but the company overcame them and the system is now one of the best-selling in the world," said Christopher Dring from MCV, a video games industry magazine.
Sales survey

Japanese publisher Enterbrain suggests 321,400 devices were sold over the handheld's first two days on sale. Sony has yet to release official figures.

If the estimate proves accurate it would fall short of Nintendo's 371,000 3DS tally during its launch weekend in February.

However, analysts noted that Sony had to contend with cold weather conditions which may have put off some shoppers.

They also highlighted the fact that Nintendo's sales had slumped a few weeks after the 3DS went on sale.

Sony hopes to avoid that fate by releasing its device alongside a strong line-up of 24 titles. These include the latest addition to the Unchartered series and a new version of LittleBigPlanet.

A spokesman for Sony said there would be 33 games by the time it puts the two models of the device on sale in the UK in February. One will connect to the internet via 3G and wi-fi, the other just through wi-fi.

"We are incredibly pleased with the success of the Japanese launch of PlayStation Vita in which all pre-orders were immediately sold out and that enthusiasm has continued since launch with sales well on track," said David Wilson, head of PR, UK at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

"We are confident we will continue to accelerate the momentum as we approach the European launch on February 22nd."

The handhelds will be released in the US, Canada and Latin America at the same point. Although they will miss out on this year's Christmas shopping season, experts said Sony might benefit from the staggered roll-out.

"I don't think Sony would like to describe Japan as a test-run, but it does give them an opportunity to fix problems with the consoles," said Mr Dring.

"That should be reassuring to people in the UK and Europe thinking of buying the devices."

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