PS Vita’s grim future

 

As a game designer, the Vita is almost the perfect system to develop for. It’s got enough horse power to render graphics to almost match console quality, it’s got a multi-touch decent size screen, wi-fi/3G internet connectivity, a back touch screen the people still don’t know what to do with yet, and standard button controls that feel perfect in your hand. 

 
From platformer games, to RTS to friggin’ angry birds, the Vita has controls that would enable designers to create controls that are intuitive and comfortable to players familiar with those genres. It has touch screens and BUTTONS. 
 

The later make a world of difference to game designers especially, as you’re developing for smartphones, there are certain game genres that require virtual directional controls that are almost impossible to feel and play as well as on a regular gamepad (platformers for example). In this world of touch screen controls, psychical feedback sometimes is a miss, it could possibly be one of the key things – no pun intended – that stop hardcore gamers from jumping on the smartphone gaming wagon as everyone else. 

 
Had this system been released 4-5 years ago, it would’ve been a world wide sensation, and would’ve probably changed games as we know them. 
 
However, it wasn’t. PlayStation Vita was released in 2012. By then everyone already had a smartphone in their pocket, and would have a hard time justifying carrying another piece of technology that’s too big to even fit in their other pocket. 
 
 
There are many reasons in which I believe that the Vita would have a hard time to survive in the market: 
 
Player and consumer habits 
As I eluded to earlier, the Vita can’t fit in your pocket, you need to carry it around (as it is a portable device after all) most probably in your bag and given the busy lives of modern everyday people portable devices would be used for short gaming sessions (riding the bus, the train, waiting for someone, in the toilet ..etc). 
 
 
All though the Vita is capable of providing those short bursts of joy, it is designed for a more immersible experience. People who would purchase the vita are hardcore gamers that are expecting hardcore games, but don’t have the life style to suit its uses. 
 
Lack of software support 
It is a vicious cycle of not enough system sales makes developers uninterested in developing for the system, and people aren’t buying the system for the lack of of quality titles exclusively developed for it. 
 
Call of Duty and Assassin’s creed failed to rescue it 
 
Both gigantic franchises developed exclusive spin offs of their popular series, and that would’ve been enough to generate enough interest in the system among the core fan base  However, both games were less than mediocre, because of its struggling sales Activision and Ubisoft opted to assign those projects to less experienced studios that failed to deliver a quality product. If a call of duty game can’t save a system no one probably can. 
 
Lack of first party support 
Unlike Nintendo which have enough loyal fan base and classic franchises that make sure any of their system would stay afloat  Sony has to develop franchises for their own system to try to generate that interest, and they started out all right by releasing an uncharted game but after that, there was silence. It was basically bad timing, all of Sony’s studios are busy developing games for its newly announced PS4 desperately trying to have playable demos and footage for this years infamous E3 that somewhere along the way some executive was like, hey we have this other system we need to support. 
 
No hope on the horizon 
No one knows of any good games that are going to come to the Vita. No announcements  teasers or trailers were released. I was secretly hoping that Sony would devote a section of its PS4 announcement to support vita with upcoming product. They didn’t, I don’t know if they’re going to wait till E3, but that simply means that sales are going to take a steeper dive even more till then. 
 
 
Price and memory card issues
The system is a bit on the expensive side, it needs to be bundled with an awesome game and a decent memory card. The current memory card bundle is a joke. Title prices should get dropped by 20% and a price slash on the system is needed. 
 
Keep in mind that currently you can buy a PS3 for the same price of a Vita.
 
Sony needs to start taking ques from Nintendo
The direct videos is an innovative and interesting way of establishing consumer to provider relationship. Its keeping Wii U owners happy even though they don’t have any games to buy simply on good will. 
 
Bottom Line: 
It pains me to say it, but if this years E3 Vita releases were as underwhelming as the PS4 announcement, it pretty much signed its doom. I can only be hopeful that Sony would turn around and save the day as its done to all its systems before. 

Also, yes I do own one … fingers crossed >< 

One thought on “PS Vita’s grim future

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