PS Vita: 10 Things It Needs In The Next Firmware Update
PS Vita is fast approaching here in the West, and unless you’re lucky enough to be based in Japan or flaunting enough cash to import one, chances are you’re keen to know how it handles.
Team NowGamer has been playing around with its PS Vita for some time, and we’ve reviewed the hardware in full over at our PS Vita Review page.
While it’s a solid piece of kit, there are some odd and glaring omissions that Sony need to rectify with software updates. Join us as we explain why.
PS Vita needs multiple PSN ID support
Sony’s decision to restrict PS Vita consoles to just one PSN user per unit is understandable. After all, Sony wants to shift as many units as possible, so locking each console in to just one user is a smart business move, even if many gamers will hate the decision.
There is a small compromise however, as each memory card has a PSN ID on it, meaning you can effectively ‘switch ID’ by swapping out one memory card for another. It works, but it’s still a bloody pain.
Sony is missing a trick here. It could be a more viable option to allow a few PSN IDs on each PS Vita device, as it makes more sense to let multiple people try the console so that they could be convinced to buy their own.
Don’t forget that PS Vita doesn’t come cheap, and allowing multiple accounts on a single PS Vita would serve as a way of trying before you buy.
Locking PS Vita to one user is a kick in the teeth to parents who can’t afford to shell out on a console for each of their kids, let alone themselves.
PS Vita needs efficient media management
Given that most handheld devices these days have some kind of picture, music and video capture and playback options, you’d think that Sony – a company that has always tried to push the boundaries of these areas – would have found a slick and efficient way to manage content on your PS Vita.
In reality, managing your media files on PS Vita is a laborious chore. You can’t just drag and drop files from your PC or PS3 to the PS Vita. Instead you need to use Sony’s bespoke content management app, and it’s a real ball ache to say the least.
To move files between the source and your PS Vita, you must first select the type of file you want to transfer – in this example, photos – then this will open the photo app. Then you must select the photos you want , hit the transfer button and the files will move.
But hold on, what if you want to move music and then video? You have to open the specific app for that music, then do repeat the process, then open the app for video then repeat the process again.
It’s not a life-ending problem, but it is annoying. We’re confident that Sony will speed up the process in subsequent, post-launch software updates because hey, Sony has the power to do that, and we welcome it.
PS Vita needs to be faster
PS Vita boasts what is essentially a quad-core edition of the A5 chipset found inside iPhone 4S and iPad 2. This should amount to speedy load and saving time all round but when performing even the most basic of functions, PS Vita seems to always be doing something in the background.
Snap a photo and PS Vita will take a few moments before saving, scroll around websites online and PS Vita will slowly load in the site. For all of its processes clout, PS Vita can feel sluggish at times, but again, this is something OS tweaks and updates will hopefully rectify.
PS Vita needs remote play that works
One of the neat features of PS Vita is the possibility of remotely playing PS3 and PSN download games on your handheld. We say ‘possibility’, because we’ve tested a massive library of games with the feature and so far, only PixelJunk Monsters works.
So all of those adverts that say you can stream KIllzone 3 from your PS3 to your PS Vita aren’t exactly on the money. But who knows? Maybe an impending update patch will make the dream a reality, and we’ll all be playing high-end PS3 games on our PS Vita? We wait and hope.
PS Vita needs home screen folders
PS Vita does away with the PS3’s cross media bar interface, which is a shame as it’s much slicker than the new PS Vita menu system. The top menu displays icons for apps such as Near and the web browser, as well as installed and cartridge games.
This is fine, except there is no way to create custom folders to group icons together and avoid clutter. As with most things on this list, Sony could easily rectify the issue with a future OS update, but for now, it’s a feature to be considered.
PS Vita needs hybrid menu controls
When handed one of our PS Vita consoles for the first time, one Team NowGamer member tried to scroll left and right through menus by tapping the left and right shoulder buttons. This doesn’t work, as most of the PS Vita interface is controlled by touch only.
This isn’t too much of a problem, but using the buttons is still quicker than sliding on the touch screen, and boy does that screen get greasy quickly. We have been constantly wiping our PS Vita’s screen down since we got it, which is a bit of a nuisance.
Rather than force touch upon people who don’t necessarily enjoy it, Sony should open the PS Vita up to those who prefer button control, or who would like a hybrid system. This could be fixed by – you guessed it – another software update.
PS Vita needs a “Close all’ function
This brings us neatly to PS Vita’s multi-tasking options. As with iPhone 4S and Nintendo 3DS, you can run PS Vita games and apps in the background while performing other functions. To this end, PS Vita works fine.
But, when you have ten apps open in the background at once you have to close them all individually by selecting each app, then peeling them off the screen by doing a swipe motion on the touch screen. Every. Single. Time. Software patch please Sony.
PS Vita needs proper social sharing
Let’s be honest here – Twitter is massive. Like it or not, Twitter has infiltrated so many facets of our daily lives, and of course, the games industry as well. Most consoles and handheld devices have in-built social network functionality, but this is absent from PS Vita.
While there are Twitter and Facebook apps already available for PS Vita, we’d really like to see social sharing options ingrained into the fabric of the interface, rather than switching between apps to post our best scores, pics and random musings.
For example, there are no options to share trophies, images, screen grabs, videos or post messages directly from the PS Vita interface and straight to your social networking accounts. Would you be happy switching back and forth between apps every time you wanted to share something?
Say for example, you won an online game of WipEout 2048 and absolutely slaughtered the competition by a wide margin, you can’t take a screen grab and then post it to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other services direct. This would be an awesome feature, and we’re hoping Sony implements it at launch.
PS Vita needs beacons
Xbox 360 received a beacon system before the end of 2011. These are basically notifications you can set that tell your friends what games you want to play. So, if you want to play Modern Warfare 3 with your mates, you can set a beacon that lets them know.
You will also get an alert whenever a friend starts playing Modern Warfare 3, so that you can chuck them a game invite. It’s a smart system, and while PS Vita has a friend list that shows when your mates are online, it doesn’t show what games they want to play.
This isn’t a massive failing, but it would still be a cool way of enhancing the friend list. PS Vita already shows you what games friends are currently playing, and beacons would go one step further.
PS Vita needs video capture
Being brutally honest here, PS Vita has two cameras that fall way, way behind what is possible on iPhone 4S. When taking stills, the image quality is grainy and has washed out colours. But still, it functions and is an added extra for PS Vita owners so we can’t complain too much.
However, we have searched high and low on our PS Vita’s interface and we cannot find any trace of a video recording app or feature. While this seems like wasted opportunity on Sony’s behalf, we simply couldn’t see the video quality being any good based on the PS Vita’s ropey camera quality.
But things can always change
In terms of functionality and the breadth of options available to users, PS Vita has set out an impressive stall, although there are obvious shortcomings such as the ones we have listed in this article.
Most of these are software-related and could very well be improved upon via software updates. Given Sony’s penchant for regularly updating its software, we won’t be surprised if these issues are addressed post-launched.
These issues are just small niggles when compared to the overall high quality of PS Vita, so if anything, these problems are areas of potential improvement on what is already a superb handheld gaming system.
You have the means to fix these things Sony, so go on, impress us like we know you can!