As we get closer to the 17th of December, the launch date of the PS Vita in Japan, more and more information is released about the device. When the handheld formally known as the NGP (Next Generation Portable) was unveiled at E3, we were all amazed by the HD graphics and the incredible line up of games. When Sony told us it would cost $250 for the WiFi version, we couldn’t believe it. The Tokyo Game Show rolled around and cemented the fact that there will be a lot of games available at launch, all looks prettier as ever. We also learned we could have apps like Skype or Facebook directly in our hands, and a full internet browser. A few days ago, it was announced that it would be region free. It seemed too good to be true.
That’s when the picture went from fuzzy happy feeling to murky brown reality.
Let’s talk about the games first. While the line up really is plentiful, how many of those games really are new IPs? New and fresh experiences, or at least not ports? Very few actually. With titles like Disgaea 3, Persona 4, Final Fantasy X, Little Big Planet, Mod Nation Racer, Marvel VS Capcom 3 and the Oddworld games, I’m starting to think “portable” from back when it was named the NGP actually meant “port enable”. Sony had a flash of genius when it took away the PS2 emulation from the Playstation 3, now being able to re release it’s last gen catalog. It looks like it wants to strike gold again with the PS Vita. What other way then to make you buy games twice?
Sony announced that you could take some games with you and keep on playing them on your new shiny handheld, freeing up the television for who ever wants to watch Robocop again, and basically one upping the Wii U before its release. A developer working on an action RPG called Ruin showcased the feature on stage and it looked wonderful, except it is not. Ruin is the only title announced yet, where both a PS3 and a Vita copy of the game are bundled together. Would you like to keep on playing the Metal Gear Solid games in the palm of your hands? You’ll have to buy another copy of the exact same game. What about Marvel VS Capcom? Same deal. With prices looking to approach full retail console ones, it’s going to be one very expensive feature. “It’s cool” you start saying, “no one is forcing me to buy two copies of the game, I’ll just play it on my Vita”. About that...
With this new system, Sony is trying very hard to sell us on the idea of console like experiences but in our hands. Dual sticks, HD graphics, great franchises, big digital market those are just few of the arguments to try and reel us in. With that in mind, it’s absolutely unacceptable to give us 3 to 5 hours of battery life. This is not just a regular handheld, this is supposed to be the ultimate one. It’s (supposedly) changing the game. You’ve never seen anything like it, yet we’re supposed to stop every 3 hours? Games like Uncharted focus on a great and extensive single player campaign but we have to worry about saving in the case that it shuts off in the middle of a level? I guess we could just leave it plugged it, but that would defeat the purpose of a portable gaming system huh? I guess it is not spelled Next Generation Portable anymore. “But that’s not an issue” you bravely declare, “I don’t game more then 3 hours straight on a handheld anyway, and surely the price would have been more expensive with a better battery”. About that price point...
Proprietary Format and Price
Sitting at $250 for the WiFi version (or €250 because why not) the price was a shocker to say the least. It even caused the 3DS to lower it’s price from 250 to 170! A substantial drop that clearly showed the competition (namely Nintendo) feeling threatened by the device. Sony also dropped a bombshell on us: the system will use a brand new memory card (unnamed for now) priced at 9,500 yen (about $124 for a 32GB card). “Why would you need so much space” you start spouting, “The 4gb one costs around 30 dollars in Japan! And besides, those are the Japanese prices”. First of all, you will NEED one, some games forcing you to install data on it, and it does not ship with one. Second of all, if you honestly think the prices will be drastically different you’re pretty optimistic. You can be hopeful and dream of a $100 price point but that is still expensive, raising the handheld to $350.
Third of all, you’re forgetting something crucial here: the push for a better digital marketplace. Sony is in the process of transferring its PSP catalog on the PSN so you can
pay for the same gam
have even more games available. Games are heavy, a 4gb card is two PSP games at best, and that’s not even counting the Vita games that will be much heavier. Some of the launch titles are only available online! Add the cost of the memory card to the money you will probably shell out for a battery extension and you’re looking at a near PS3 price point. The Vita is not looking so cheap now is it? And about that whole digital thing...
You probably know this already, but you need a damn good internet speed to have a solid and smooth online experience. Trying to game through 3G really is laughable, especially for games that require quick reflexes like the Marvel title. The speed simply is not high enough. Add to that download limitations of 20MB, and looks like the 3G will only be used for small DLC and themes. Why do we need 3G again? Certainly not to try and make some of the money back by partnering with cellphone companies through plans. Why would you think that? I'll also add that Skype thru 3G can be pretty hit or miss, speaking from personal experience.
The Vita is a great piece of hardware, but don’t let the PR fool you, it is far from perfect. The announced price is nothing more then a smoke screen, most of the games shown are ports and more ports, its battery life is ridiculously short and it uses a proprietary format.
That being said mine is already pre ordered. The point of this article is not to convince you not to get one, or to try and troll anybody. It’s to bring you back down to earth. Let’s not over hype the PS Vita. Let’s approach it level headed, our minds clear, so we can enjoy it more and expect what is reasonable of it.
Let’s be smart