PS Vita: 5 Reasons It Will Succeed, 5 Reasons It Will Fail
As you read this, gamers all across Japan are playing their shiny new PS Vita consoles while laughing at you. Sony’s handheld doesn’t come out in the West until 22 February you see, and while history dictates that the PS Vita will likely be a huge success in Japan, the same can’t be said in full certainty for European and American markets.
Part of this uncertainty comes from how Apple has changed the way we perceive value when buying handheld games and digital content in a broader sense. With iPad and iPhone sales at an all time high in the West and Japan, could it be that Sony has missed a step in its approach to Vita?
Join us as we take a look at the case for PS Vita’s glittering success, as well as the issues that could lead to its crushing failure. All of this is theoretical of course, but please do chip in with your own thoughts below.
The case for PS Vita
1. PS Vita boasts high-end games
There’s a good reason that PS Vita games cost as much as they do: They’re brilliant. You only need to play Uncharted: Golden Abyss for about an eighth of a second before you realise that Sony has raised the bar for handheld gaming indefinitely.
This is the kind of experience you could only achieve on home consoles previously, and other launch games Ridge Racer, WipEout 2048, Little Deviants and the rest all make good use of the PS Vita’s bespoke hardware features, ensuring they are experiences that you can’t get elsewhere.
Then of course you have remote play between PS3, and PS Vita meaning you can stream disc based and digital games from your PS3 and play them on your Vita. Sony has confirmed that not all games will support this feature, but it’s still a neat way of switching between consoles, should someone else want to use your television.
2. PS Vita boasts a massive range of hardware features
While 3DS places 3D as its main hook, PS Vita delivers a ton of features that all come together to make an impressive piece of kit. Perhaps the most pivotal feature on offer is the PS Vita’s twin thumbsticks.
This is significant as it allows for a greater library of games that demand the feature, as well as making top quality home console experiences possible. This one, small feature along could make PS Vita a resounding success.
Also, you have a front and rear camera, video recording capabilities, a pristine OLED screen, rear touch pad, front touch screen, microphone, Six-axis motion control, three-axis accelerometer, four face buttons, a d-pad and more.
All of this can be yours for around £229.99 (Wi-Fionly version) or £269.99 (3G and Wi-Fiversion). This might seem steep when compared to the current asking price of a 3DS, but considering the technical clout under the hood, and the high quality of games on the way, it’s a difficult prospect to dismiss.
A wealth of multimedia content is just a few taps away.
3. PS Vita delivers mass content and multimedia functions
What’s interesting about PS Vita is that while the launch line up is looking strong, there is already a wealth of content available for the format via PS Store. Some games already downloaded on the service PS3 can be accessed on your handheld, and in some cases the same works vice versa.
When you consider how much content is already on PS Store waiting to be downloaded, you can expect to see a ton of new games developed exclusively for PS Vita on there as well. Best of all, this content will be cheaper than full retail games, giving you a cheap way to top up your game library.
Via PS Store, you will also be able to buy and rent movie for watching on the go, a well as storing a huge amount of music on your PS Vita’s memory stick. Sony’s digital storefront is massive and this, in turn, will make your PS Vita a vast media hub with plenty of content to explore.
4. PS Vita has impressive online functionality
Online gaming on handhelds has had a rough time over the years. Yes, it has been possible on a few formats so far, but few games have really nailed the fluidity and capabilities of their home console brethren. PS Vita will change this completely.
PSN connectivity will work just like it does on your PS3 via Wi-Fi, and although the 3G model will prove expensive, battery draining and less reliable, it’s still a neat option to have for using social networking features like Twitter and Facebook, as well as YouTube and web browsing.
Near is another neat feature which is best compared to Street Pass on Nintendo 3DS, in that it recognises other PS Vita consoles in the local vicinity and enables you to befriend other gamers, challenge them to multiplayer games and more. All of these elements come together to make for a well-connected online console.
Launch games don’t get much bigger than Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
5. PS Vita delivers big names and even bigger franchies
Revisiting the PS Vita’s twin thumsticks for a second, we’ve already discussed how this feature will enable developers to bring their biggest home console franchise to the format, just as they exist on PS3 and Xbox 360.
So basically, there’s no compromise when it comes to porting games over to the PS Vita from the PS3 or Xbox 360 – except perhaps in terms of visuals – but in a control sense, they will be identical. The lack of L2 and R2 buttons is also remedied by the rear touch pad, which can be used to perform the same function.
When you consider the franchises already confirmed for PS Vita, but not yet released, the likes of Killzone, Resistance, Call of Duty and Bioshock are all evidence that proves PS Vita is capable of tussling with the big boys of home console gaming.
The case against PS Vita
1. Smartphones are changing the handheld market
It’s clear that PS Vita offers a level of gaming quality way beyond what smartphones and tablets are capable of, but when you can download a copy of Angry Birds HD on Apple’s app store for just £2.99, then you can see why many people are happy to stick with using phones as handheld consoles.
PS Vita will have a tough time convincing people to part with £229/£269 at launch, then upwards from £14.99 for a memory stick, then anywhere between £30-£45 for games. It’s a lot of money to lay down so soon after the holiday season, and if 3DS has taught us anything, it’s that unreasonable price points can really hurt sales.
It could also be argued that the quality of smartphone and tablet games is rising all the time, thanks to the likes of Infintiy Blade II, GTA III, Real Racing 2 and others, but they are still a long way behind what PS Vita is capable of.
Few can complain with buying games at the 69p price point on App Store, but than maybe this trend of micro-payment gaming has skewed the public’s idea of a good deal. Either way, the PS Vita’s price is still a defining factor, unfortunately for the worse.
Meet the PS Vita cock-blocker.
2. The PS Vita’s 3G connectivity isn’t ideal
PS Vita can make use of multiple social networking sites, a web browser and other functions over 3G. This is intrinsic to the nature of a handheld device these days, but still, it’s hard to imagine many gamers engaging in a battery and wallet sapping 3G session of WipEout 2048 while out in public.
Not that Sony has ever missed the point before, right?
Anyone who has tried to run a fully fledged multiplayer game on a 3G enabled device will likely tell you that the connection is frequently unreliable, slow, and worst of all, expensive. It’s not worth racking up a huge phone bill just to get some good online lap times on Ridge Racer, which is why the Wi-Fionly model makes more sense.
3. PS Vita has a short battery life
When PS Vita was revealed, Sony went on record to say that the console would deliver between 5-6 hours of battery life while playing games. However, since the PS Vita has launched in Japan, some reports are saying that it only delivers around 3-4 hours. This is a significant drop.
Clearly, the main aim of a handheld console is to deliver gaming on the go, but this meagre time frame would seriously dent the credibility of the console from a portability perspective. While this is still longer than the 3DS battery life, both Nintendo and Sony’s handhelds pale when compared to phones and tablets.
4. PS Vita is expensive
We’ve touched on this one earlier, but while some see the stellar quality of PS Vita as justification for the price tag, others won’t be so forgiving. Nintendo back peddled on the cost of 3DS when it realised the hefty asking price was a prominent factor in its diminishing sales.
Money is getting harder to come by and even harder to hold on to these days, so £229 for the Wi-Fionly model, or £269 for the 3G and Wi-Fiversion, plus your memory card cost, then the price of games is a big thing to ask of gamers these days.
There’s no doubt that PS Vita will see a huge list of games announced from launch that will make the price justifiable, but it wouldn’t surprise us if many gamers wait out for a price drop before taking the plunge.
5. PS Vita games are expensive
Again, the quality of PS Vita games are currently unmatched in the handheld space, but to ask gamers for £35 for a copy of Ridge Racer – a game very similar to previous instalments that you’ve likely bought once, or several times before on older formats – is a bit much.
Fair enough, paying top dollar for bespoke, unique PS Vita experiences is reasonable, but there has to be some kind of quality bar that justifies the higher price threshold.
This all funnels back to the fact that digital download games that can offer the same amount of play time – albeit with lesser aesthetic quality than PS Vita titles – can already be bought for a fraction of the price on other portable devices.
This final point is a true difference of opinion, as some will be perfectly happy to pay good money for high end games, and that’s absolutely fine too. But when gamers are cash poor and in need of a quick fix of fun, the allure of Angry Birds and its budget is hard to resist.
It’s key to stress that PS Vita is unchallenged in the handheld space in terms of the hardware features on offer, and the astounding quality of the games available.
There’s no escaping from the fact that yes, you might be able to download smaller games and apps for cheap on other formats, but are they as good as Uncharted: Golden Abyss? No, of course not.
But this the problem we face today when it comes to money in the games industry. We’ve been absolutely spoiled rotten by 69p games on Apple’s App Store, not to mention digital downloads on PSN and Xbox Live.
These budget releases have skewed our sense of value, and it’s not uncommon to see gamers stressing out over paying £4.99 for a copy of Infinity Blade II. Since when was £4.99 an unreasonable asking price for a game that lasts in excess of ten hours? We must have missed that news.
But still, say what you will about the PS Vita’s asking price. The fact remains that it’s a unique experience, and one that will undoubtedly appease anyone who is lucky enough to grab one at launch.
As always, NowGamer will be there to keep you up to date until PS Vita launches in the UK on 22 February. It’s going to be a good one too, so stay tuned!