An update on the PlayStation Vita

February 21, 2012 in Articles, News by Will Ross

The PlayStation Vita is being released tonight at midnight. It’s officially here. So here’s an update on the situation, before the hype begins:

When the PSVita was released in Japan on the 17th December 2011, the reaction wasn’t quite as positive as was expected. Since the Japanese gamers don’t favour games coming in from Japan, not as many games were available in stores, and so the PSVita got off to a mediocre start. But this is not the case in Europe and the US, according to Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida. Yoshida expects a much better reception, since outside Japan, the PSP market has all but died. We need a new handheld, and this is the one we’ve been given.

The original idea to maximise the consumer interest was to open up the availability to transfer UMD PSP games onto PSV cartridges, however with the pirating industry in the US being so popular, and UMD games being so cheap online, it wouldn’t be worth the cost of transferring. This privilege stayed in Japan.

Meanwhile, PS3 is experiencing its most successful year to date, so Sony have no initial worries, and the achievement with updates through the PS Network shows how even if the PSVita turns out to miss expectations, there is always the possibility to tweak it afterwards. This brings me on to the matter of which Vita you buy – bog standard or 3G? well there’s a clear cut price difference of £40 between the two, meaning your £230 device will cost you nearly 1/6 on top to allow network coverage outside the house. However, although considered an important feature to this ‘jack of all trades’ console, Yoshida wants gamers to concentrate on the content of the games. The 3G option was put in place to show that they could do it, however sales of both types have been roughly 1:1.

“We want people to spend more on the content, not on the connectivity, to be honest.”

Shuhei Yoshida

Uncharted: Golden Abyss, developed by Sony Bend, is one of the stand-out titles for PS Vita. An already familiar franchise, it delivers the adventure, exploration and gunplay expected of the series, and goes out of its way to crowbar in the new Vita features – rub the touch screen to clean archaeological finds, hold the camera up to the light to see invisible ink on paper. It’s one of the most visually impressive games for Vita and seems to be considered a system-seller by Sony to the hardcore gaming crowd. [Matt Martin – GamesIndustry.biz].

A monthly plan has been discussed when trying to solve the 3G/not conundrum, one option being if you pay up front for x amount of months 3G connectivity, the console is given to you for free. This has put GAME into a sticky position. 46 job losses and a company hired to assess the long-term prospects later, and they’ve decided to even drop the release of all of Ubisoft’s PSVita titles to begin with. It seems like rather a steep move, leaving out Lumines, Michael Jackson The Experience, Rayman Origins, Asphalt Injection and Dungeon Hunter Alliance on the launch date, however GAME has to save as much money as it can, and this seems to be the way they want to go about it.

The boost for GAME is the official launch status itself, at the Oxford Street branch, complete with WipEout 2048 developers at a signing session, and goody bags to those customers who turn up. The lucky gamer at the head of the queue will receive a year’s supply of Vita titles, and there will be rooms available to try out the console before purchasing. Also, Sony have made absolutely sure that store managers nationwide will have a Vita to hand, in order to explain to customers what it does, and how it does it. Hopefully this will hook new customers and interest the audience when the doors open tonight.

Unfortunately, regardless of how well GAME do at the Vita launch, Mark Gerhard, Jagex CEO, says that in 10 years, physical gaming will be extinct. Many people disagree with this approximation, saying that broadband capping and gaming network prices will keep discs in fashion through the surge in internet gaming popularity. Discs have been related to vinyls, which although are outdated, are still widely collected and cherished. Some people like to be able to put a disc into the drive and play that way, and storage devices are risky enough when talking about save data, let alone the entire game itself.

“I think, 10 years out from now, we’ll be talking about [physical] retail nostalgically, as a museum piece”

Mark Gerhard, Jagex

I thoroughly believe the PSVita will do extremely well for a spell, and will continue to do so until the next batch of technological wizardry is announced. PlayStation Vita available as of the 22nd February.

 

-     Will  : )