The PlayStation Vita has been on store shelves for almost 18 months, in that time the beautiful handheld has been critically praised for its hardware design. The first ever portable console to have dual analog sticks, has proven it is a competent piece of technology. However with a second E3 showing where original games for the system were in short supply, many Vita owners and consumers wanting to purchase the Vita continue to ask. Where are the games?
Sony is focusing on their next generation hardware, but is it at the sacrifice of the Vita itself? Today PlayStation Vita aficionado Jamie Briggs and Vlad Pintea, who has not yet been sold on Sony’s handheld, have come together to speak about Vita’s future.
Does Vita still have a chance to succeed? What needs to be done to sell the hardware? And more importantly, where are the games?
Jamie Briggs: As a die-hard Vita fan, someone who purchased the console day one, I have stood by the system too many times to count. I have defended the systems lack of games, because quite frankly there are an abundance of quality titles on the console. Yet this is the second year in a row where it feels Sony has completely forgot about Vita fans, I don’t think Vita had more than 8 minutes of time during Sony’s press conference.
We were given games, but these games can be purchased from multiple locations. Hotline Miami is on Steam and coming to PS3, Hohokum is coming to PS3 & PS4, Limbo has been out for years and Rayman: Legends will be out on almost every system available. I just don’t think these games warrant a purchase of a new console, when you can play these games on an array of different hardware.
Vlad you don’t own a Vita, what has held you back from purchasing the handheld?
Vlad Pintea: When I first saw Uncharted: Golden Abyss running on the PlayStation Vita, I was blown away. PlayStation 3 quality games on a handheld is something which only the Vita can reproduce, especially because it’s the first portable to feature dual analog sticks (that’s a HUGE factor for playing 1st, and 3rd person games). It seemed to combine the best of both worlds, but even so, the lack of original games held, and it still is, me from purchasing one.
Besides original titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Soul Sacrifice, Gravity Rush, and Unity 13, most of the other titles are either ports, or inferior versions to the PS3. Those are still incredible games to play (Rayman Origins, Guacamelee, MGS HD Collection, All-Stars, and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time), but why choose the Vita version when the PS3 one is almost all the time better? As I said before – a console/handheld is only defined by its games, and right now, the Vita still doesn’t look so appealing.
Jamie Briggs: This is where I think Sony have made poor decisions, one of which was Sound Shapes. For many this was one of the great Vita exclusives to be excited about, but it was delayed and sent to PlayStation 3 consoles too. Though it may have still sold well on Vita, decisions like this make non-Vita owners have no incentive to hunt down the handheld.
Last year Assassin’s Creed III was released, selling truly remarkable numbers. We also had Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation released for the Vita, selling decently for a Vita exclusive. The problem is they released both of these titles on the same day, and unless you are carrying a lot of extra cash the chances of you buying both, or choosing the Vita version are slim. We have the same instance occurring this October, when Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate releases day-in-date with its console counterpart. Could it sell big numbers like Liberation? Perhaps, but there is no way of knowing.
Blackgate is arguably one of the 3 main handheld titles coming to Vita this holiday season, but those who don’t own Vita may simply stick to the console version instead.
Vlad Pintea: I believe that the FPS market is the biggest one in the industry, so one of things the Vita absolutely needs, is a great multiplayer FPS game. At first, we thought the respective title would go to Resistance: Burning Skies. Wrong! Then there was Call of Duty: Declassified. We thought – “Come on! It’s COD, how can it NOT sell millions of copies, and bring Vita on its feet?” Boy, we were wrong… Now, Killzone: Mercenary comes along, and I’m actually sure that Guerrilla Cambridge’s entry in the Killzone franchise on the Vita WILL be the handheld’s first big FPS, and that it’ll drive more hardware sales as well.
Jamie Briggs: I agree Mercenary looks fantastic, beautiful visuals, in-depth money system and fluid gameplay. Issue being will those who don’t own a Vita, go buy the system to play Killzone on a handheld? When PlayStation 4 launches (most likely) one month later, with a full next generation console Killzone experience? If Mercenary is meant to get new users to buy the system, the fact there is another console providing another Killzone experience, is a worry.
The other key title for Vita is Tearaway, I think Media Molecule are a very innovative developer that provide great experiences. I think Tearaway will be no different, but I’m not sure if it is a console seller. If LittleBigPlanet Vita couldn’t push many handheld units, I’m not sure how a new IP from Media Molecule will succeed.
I’m not saying all three titles will fail, I just think they don’t scream “killer app”. With the PlayStation 4 launching so soon, Vita needs a price reduction to entice consumers sitting on the fence.
Vlad Pintea: Yes, a price-cut would definitely make a lot of gamers reconsider the Vita. Another feature which is interesting to think about is the remote play. Nintendo put a big emphasise on the GamePad’s remote functionality – being able to play wherever you are in your house (to a certain distance limit, of course), but Sony can take it miles further.
The company has already stated that it wants every game on the PS4 to be remotely played on the Vita. Think about it – most places these days feature Wi-Fi: from coffee shops, to malls, airports etc.; being able to pop-up your Vita while waiting for someone, and continue your progress in The Witcher, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and so on (not to mention playing it at home in bed if your TV isn’t available) should be another reason for gamers to check out the handheld. The PS4 has already won the hearts of millions, and it’s not even out yet, so a bigger focus on the Vita now is something that Sony should take care of.
Jamie Briggs: Remote Play is definitely a feature that could help, but without the price drop I doubt the consumer can justify the purchase to play their PlayStation 4 games on-the-go. Sony’s main goal should be to drop the price, we saw it work wonders in Japan and if it does the same in the US there will be a greater install base to encourage studios to develop for the console.
You are right, the PlayStation 4 now had a solid foundation for its launch and it would have to do something crazy to lose our at this point. Their main concern should be Vita, positioning it strongly for the holiday season and pushing the Remote Play functionality at the same time.
PlayStation 4’s Plus based online multiplayer may even help the system, consumers will have access to 3-4 Vita games already and that may be incentive enough to invest in the handheld itself.
Vlad Pintea: That as well. All in all, implementing the remote play feature, alongside a price-cut are the fastest things to do in order to make the Vita more appealing. In the long run, however, only the games will define this handheld’s potential. Bring us the games, and wipe away the past.
What are your thoughts on PlayStation Vita’s future? Do you believe a price-drop is needed? Also do you think we will ever hear about Bioshock Vita? Let us know in the comments below.
Jamie Briggs is on Twitter @JamieAA, while his videos are found on YouTube. You can contact Vlad Pintea via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, My IGN, on Skype, Steam (all at the same name: vlad94pintea)