Nobody can deny that Sony’s PlayStation Vita has been experiencing more than its fair share of troubles. A less than stellar launch, a distinct lack of games and even flailing support in the system’s motherland of Japan has plagued the system for months. The Vita centric Gamescom press conference aimed to change all that. But did it succeed? Read on as two Vita owners (yep, they do exist) shoot the shit on the current state of the Vita and discuss what’s next.
Do you regret buying the Vita?
Adam: Look, I’m the douchebag that bought the PSP just after launch. I shelled out my hard earned pocket money, bought me some UMD movies and settled in for the joy that was to come. I mean, it was the way of the future man! That I regretted; the PS Vita, not so much.
Sure there might not be a lot of games, but there have been enough quality ones to keep me going. Sound Shapes, for example, is amazing. Now with the wealth of announcements like Cross-Buy, I’m excited for what’s to come. The Vita has way more potential to succeed than the PSP ever did. It’s the handheld device hardcore gamers have always dreamed of. It’s just never really managed to hit the mark, most likely due to poor marketing and post release strategy.
All things considered however, while I’m not regretful, I’m still worried of the PSP syndrome. A fact that is only made all the worse once you browse you any of the terrible sales data. But hey, at least there are no more UMDs.
Mark: I was really, really starting to. Don’t get me wrong, I love the device, it’s powerful, produces some amazing graphics, and thus far its capabilities have been integrated in fun and interesting ways … but there’s been so few reasons to turn it on. As Australia’s most beloved gaming journalist, I did manage to get my hands on free copies of nearly every game that’s come out for it, but only a few of those were worth finishing, and fewer still gave me reason to pick it back up. Funnily enough, the lack of games didn’t bother me as much as the lack of interaction between the Vita and the PS3. Hackers managed to remotely play Battlefield 3 and Arkham City, yet I, a non-hacker (or noob) had to be content with streaming Final Fantasy VII like a chump.
Now, however, I am pumped. PS One classics will keep me entertained in between the levy of new titles announced, the PS Plus service will give me more free goodness, and best of all, I will be abusing Cross-Buy like a priest in an orphanage. Sly Cooper, at home, on my Vita, for one price. All-Stars, on my PS3, on my Vita, for one price. This is the interaction between the two systems I wanted to see, and the interaction that the Vita needs and Sony needs as a whole. It’s not as great as a Steam sale, but dammit it’s a start.
Would we recommend it?
Adam: Honestly, in its current stage I don’t think I could. Not unless you are a hardcore gamer that wants to do more than slice some watermelon on the go. Though not completely extravagant, the device’s price point is a turn off for many and the lack of titles available this very moment is quite frankly, appalling.
That said, if Sony keep pushing their Cross-Buy system beyond solely first party titles and ensnare third parties too, then maybe, just maybe it would be a dumb move NOT to go grab a Vita.
Mark: There are very few people I could honestly recommend the device to. I could certainly sell it, because I’m charming and have a winning smile, but I don’t know anyone who would enjoy it. Even with Cross-Buy, it’s still a hugely expensive device with a niche market. If I was going to pick a target audience, I would aim for people who own a PS3, like Sony exclusive titles, take public transport, and have some money to throw around. Hopefully this message reaches all ten of those people.
Do you think the Gamescom announcements will convince people to buy it?
Adam: I don’t know if it will convince people to buy one so much as satisfy the people who OWN one. It’s been a lonely road as a Vita owner and finally there seems to be some light shining our way. In a year’s time once all this news has come to fruition it might create a different answer. A Call of Duty, a Killzone, All Stars Battle Royal (that name hasn’t stopped being dumb yet) and any number of PS One classics, that’s a hell of a lot more appealing then the tumbleweed you have to keep you company at the moment.
Mark: I think it will convince the people who were definitely going to get one at some stage, but couldn’t justify it just yet. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have gotten the PS Vita on launch if I wasn’t in the biz; it’s an expensive device with expensive games and expensive memory. Cross-Buy is a great initiative for the people who already own one, but the mass market certainly isn’t going to go for it. Even if Sony decided to bring out fifty more games and give it a PS Plus service that performs oral sex with the push of a button, without a price-cut on the actual handheld itself, it’s just not going to sell.
Do you care about PS One classics?
Mark: Yes, and hell yes. Simply this: that’s where the Final Fantasies are. Think about it, I’m traveling on the train roughly eight or ten hours a week. Uncharted: Golden Abyss was around ten hours, roughly the same for Gravity Rush, so they’re both gone in just over a week. Coupled with the fact a fat ladies rolls are normally gently resting on my arm during these rides, my focus tends to drift away from the important plot developments zone in on the warm, damp feeling on spreading across my elbow. The Final Fantasies are normally 60+ hour games. That’s roughly six or more weeks worth of gaming, and more importantly, when that lady has decided I am the perfect fat-roll rest, I can simply level up during the ride, and not have to worry one bit about missing anything important.
Generally, though, we should care about the PS One games because they’re more suited to the handheld. The games are normally longer and harder than their current-gen counterparts, and best of all, they’re cheaper to purchase. Realistically, if you didn’t want to mess about getting an emulator for your android tablet, or find a PSOne or PS2 console to hook up to a portable tv that you can take on the bus, your PS Vita would be the best thing for your (sort-of) retro gamer.
Adam: I’m going to be the hater and say no, not really. I look at these ‘classics’ the same way I view HD remakes. I would much rather Sony and third parties focus on brand spanking new experiences rather than port games that had their ‘hey day’ over a decade ago. I don’t need to play Final Fantasy I – XXIV. Give me a cool PSN title that utilises the system’s capabilities instead.
Is its inclusion a cool addition to the Vita’s library? No doubt, just like I’m also sure many a fanboy have changed their underpants at the mere thought of the announcement. But does it do anything for me personally? Not a thing.
Is PS Mobile destined to fail?Mark: Yes.
Adam: Wait, is that a serious question?
What do we want next from the Vita?
Adam: Do I have to say it? Games and plenty of them! The Vita’s launch line up was arguably one of, if not the best in gaming’s history. Then it’s as though the well suddenly dried up, leaving me thirstier than Nathan Drake stranded in the middle of the desert. Downloadable gems like Super Star Dust, Escape Plan and Sound Shapes are awesome for now, but the appeal will only last for so long. Plus, in the case of Sound Shapes, I can even play that on my PS3. Sony has a stable-full of powerhouse first party studios. Use them! But above all, where on earth is all the third party support?
As a whole, the Vita has both power and greater control (thanks to the analogue sticks) that portable gamers have wanted for over a decade. Publishers and gamers alike should be lapping up the Vita. Sony need to show the gaming public why its device is the best handheld on the market, why it dominates the casual gaming revolution brought on by Apple and why you should always keep it within close grabbing distance.
The initiatives from Gamescom are a good start, but remain exactly that – a start. Keep it going, drop the damn price and get creative Sony. Utilise cross platform linking to the PS3 and implement more seamless transitions between Vita and PlayStation iterations of titles. Make me happy I bought a Vita.
Mark: Better interaction between the PS3 and the PS Vita would be a great start. I’m not a fan of cables, so I’d like to be able to back up the system wirelessly. Come to that, I want to be able to transfar wirelessly, and also I want my PS3 to know when my PS Vita is on and in the general vicinity. They don’t have to talk politics or laugh about my feeble Street Fighter skills, but I would like an icon just to say they’re aware of each other.
Lastly, and obviously, I’d like to see the stream of games stay steady and for the games release to be more suited to the handheld. While it made me want to pull my hair out when Nintendo fans kept asking ‘why would I want to play console games on my handheld?’ (Mario is the same bloody game across all devices), I know what they’re saying. The games have to have lasting power, and have an appeal every time I have an hour or so of travel time. Everybody’s Golf and ModNation were good starts (less ModNation Racers, that game is pretty much balls), but ultimately didn’t have the staying power.
What do you, our DC readers think? Going to get a Vita? Not going to get one? Are you even on the right website? Let us know in the comments!