A reviewer, previewer, and editorial writer for PlanetPlaystation.com. When he's not writing he's also working at Wal-Mart in the electronics department helping customers with any questions. On his days off he's a gamer, playing everything and anything, especially from the Sony band of entertainment. Currently playing WWE '12, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Escape Plan, and Little Deviants. My favorites are anywhere from The Legend of Zelda series, to Sonic Generations.
I've been playing video games since I was the age of two and my first one was Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis. I've been playing games ever since, owned many systems over the years. Though I will admit that the year of the Vita will be the last time I buy any console, I will be playing for many years to come.
Throughout the year there are some video games that are announced, and there is some where rumors swirl about. From year to year all the video game developers and companies of the world gather at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (otherwise known as E3) to show case those same games that have been announced, or even games that have been held under radar for surprising the many in attendance and those tuning in online all over the world. This year is interesting because a new handheld from Sony has entered the fray, but NOTHING has been said about its releases or no new news at all. Maybe ONE game has been show cased (Soul Sacrifice to be exact) at a Japanese expo earlier this year but other than that appetizers, many of those who own a Vita are starving. Those who donít even own one yet have a right not to considering there is a lack of games. Many of those in Japan have already voted with their wallets, causing more concern for the system. Have no fear though; Sony will announce more info on the PS Vita. They have to, itís a new system and if they want it to succeed they need to do something about its lack of momentum. Here are my top six predictions for announcements for PS Vita during E3
6) System Price CutÖ???
This prediction is very low on this list because itís the least likely to happen. Though with all the news and articles stating how badly the Vita is doing, it would make logical sense. After all many are paying wonít want to pay $ 250 to almost $ 300, when they can spend $ 160 on the competitionís handheld. With the extra money, one could get a smartphone, it be all set for an entire year; so Sony needs to make an incentive.
5) System Selling GamesÖ.that probably wonít come out till around Christmas or early 2013
Yeah, yeah I know this is a very negative title for this number. Hereís the problem though, what is announced for the PS Vita this year? Call of Duty? Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time? Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royal? Thatís all great and everything and Iím excited butÖplease let this be the pre-holiday line up, and not post. It is obvious that there will be games announced, but predictions can only go so far. If I had to guess though, LittleBigPlanet will get the release date before Christmas. I only say this because this is the ONLY ďnon-portĒ game currently that could be done and shipped in time for release.
4) The Passport/ Ambassador Program
Itís called the Passport Program in Japan, and the Ambassador Program here but no matter what itís called this better be announced. Sony back in late 2011 when the PS Vitaís new name was revealed, and the details of what this new handheld would be capable of; they promised that when any of those who bought the PS Vita, would be able to transfer any, and all UMDs into digital form so that the consumer could play them on the new handheld at the cost of the consumer. Itís been a few months now since the Vita has been out, and nothing like this has been implemented. This is what is hurting Sony currently is the ability to be backwards compatible with anything they make. Iíd still like to know how theyíd be able to figure out if I bought a UMD version of Persona, and convert it to a digital download for my VitaÖmaybe they can answer that at E3.
3) More Apps, Specifically Those for Video StreamingÖ
No YouTube, No Vudu, No Hulu Plus and No Amazon Video. Just NetflixÖwhoís idea was this? In my last article I mentioned how Sony doesnít know who the Vita marketed toward, and this is further proof. Sure have Skype, Foursqure and Facebook but donít include the other apps that one can download for your PS3. What a sham; Iíd like to watch a movie on Vudu or Amazon Video that Netflix doesnít have, and if I have a subscription to Hulu Plus or a specific person on YouTube Iíd like to see those. I donít want to have to go to a link, book mark it, and then download the video to my PSVís memory card. My space on that memory card is precious.
2) PSP and PS One Compatibility Please!!
You go to the PSN on your PSV right now, and count how many PSP games you can download digitally. Now do the same for your PSP, see the difference? Thereís a lot missing, and sure you can download it to your PS3 and then transfer it onto your PSV but Iíve heard rumors that they were slowly deleting that option. The reason for this, or so Iíve heard, is because if you download certain PSP games you can hack into the PSV and modify it. Well, sounds like something plausible and terrible, so we need to fix this. This holds especially when the PSP is beating the Vita in sales over in Japan.
1) Itís All About the Memory Baby
You can go to any video game forum; site and YouTube channel that talk about the PS Vita read all the comments, and this is the prediction many of those people have. Sony will cut the price of the memory cards, and make it so they are bundled in with systems to react to their poor sales. Iíll go one step further, and boldly state one or two things will happen. A) Sony will announce a new PS Vitas that has built in 4GB or 8GB memory into them or B) They will bundle either 4GB or 8GB with the newer systems and announce a 64 GB memory card. Regardless of what they decide to do with the memory problem it is certain, that Sony will cut the price of the ones currently on the market and announce a 64GB along with the 4GB, 8GB, and 16 GB memory cards. This is fact due to part of the reason why the PSV is so expensive other than the system itself, is the God awful asking price for those required memory cards.
As I post this, I am currently an employed associate of the electronics department at Wal-Mart. Why does that matter you ask? Well as an employee of any retail of any department, one needs to know or have experience with their products. With that in mind, the PS Vita is a fairly new piece of gaming technology. Researching on the internet, going into forums and even going to other stores outside of work made me realize that the Vita isn't for the casual gamer.
First I'd like to say that is odd, considering it's definitely marketed towards the casual consumer. I mean look at its two touchscreen panels. How is that not casual? The Vita aiming towards the Apple and the Android Market, which mainly consist of the casual type of consumer that donít care for games. Theyíre always on the go, and needing of something to do while passing through their daily routine. Even Little Deviants, a game released at launch and even bundled with First Addition Launch Vitas, is a compilation mini game that is aimed at a market that loves to swipe across the screens and tilting the handheld like leveling a playing field for pinball. Sony even borrowed some techniques from its competitor, Nintendo, by making their physical games the size of carriages to make everything more portable. So why doesn't the average consumer know about the restrictions of this system? Aren't they aware that a propitiatory memory is required to make it work? Do they know that going digital will cost them more memory space then physical? Do they know that regardless of if they get a physical copy of the game, the Vita still wants to install an icon, tricking consumers to believe that the game card isn't needed?
The answer to all those questions is no, the average consumer doesn't know or care about this because unlike other handhelds the Vita is a very complicated device. As you're reading this you're probably thinking, "Well it's your job as an associate to help customers get more information," or "The Vita in its early stages, other companies will find ways to make memory cards." My response to these claims starts with a question, do consumers need to worry about this in any other video game console or handheld in this generation? Do they even need to worry about that in their own smartphones? The answer again is no, because most other systems have internal memory storage. Hell even when Nintendo had months of no games for its 3DS and was on the verge of extinction, it still had internal memory space and was user friendly.
In various articles that can be found in other sites, it is mentioned how the price of the Vita is too high and that consumers needed to be well informed of some of the restrictions already put on it. Some of these include not being able to transfer save files from PSP to the the Vita, having to pay extra $ 30 for memory card on top of the already steep asking price of minimum $ 240 for the Vita itself , among other restrictions I didn't even bring up in my last article. Sadly Sony's ploy of not knowing who to market the Vita towards is so apparent, that one critic summed it up in a five second clip http://www.blisteredthumbs.net/2012/04/the-playstation-vita-in-5-seconds/.
The grievances that I have for this system isn't really the lack of games or my distaste for everything Sony, in fact many in my close circle of friends consider me as a fanboy causing my fondness of gaming to be tinted. My grievances are more about moral support than anything else. I want to support Sony, I want the Vita to succeed, and unlike most clouded fanboys I understand in order succeed you must be able to sell. Too many articles as of late detailing the failure of such awesome tech has made me nervous for third party support for the Vita and that's what causing all the frustration the reader may feel in this article. If there is no support, there is no system plain and simple economics. Japan has certainly voted with its wallets, and there has been scarce info about Vita success state side. With this being said I'd like to try to help Sony in just a few words...
Just like any medium you need to know your audience and it seems as if Sony forgot who they are marketing towards for Vita. The average parent won't be able to keep up with all this info you need in order to even play the Vita, so a few suggestions would be to bundle memory cards with your Vita. Since most of those who know a little bit about the industry would suggest using the standard 4GB or 8GB memory first due to how fast the space is used, why canít Sony bundle those with the Vita? Since you're already taking from Nintendo's playbook, why not bundle a game with those starter memory cards like Little Deviants or Super Stardust Delta to show off what the Vita can do. Hell, even squeeze in a demo for Gravity Rush, since as of this article, is the most anticipated Vita lunch title this summer. Other then release game info at E3; why night also create like a Vita Ambassador's Brochure explaining how the Vita works and why the memory card is needed in preparation for the Holiday season, and release those to retailers around the globe. Lastly, for the inevitable Vita "Ambassador's" Program list all the features you know you promised with the Vita. This means PSP/PSP mini and PS1 support, PSP UMD/save file transfer support, cross-play/remote play for all PS3 titles, and add apps that already available for PS3 also available for PS Vita. If you plan on advertising the PSV as a pocket PS3, then please follow all those steps to help boosts sales, and inform the masses. Otherwise continue on the path you are in now, and shun your fellow Sony supporters resulting in the possibility of turning into the next Sega (a third party developer).
Now before I feel the need to put flameshields up, let me make one thing clear. I, just like a small percent of people currently, have a job. Most gamers state in articles just like this say, ďIf you do not have the money then get a new hobby.Ē Here lies the problem; unlike movies, TV shows, sports, and reading this is the only hobby that I and many others like me hold near and dear. Most of us have been playing video games ever since we were two years old. Many gamers, myself included, are now getting fed up of industryís decisions as of late, and are tired of paying full price for many games because itís becoming too expensive due to accessories, games, and everything else required to play.
An article on BagoGames (http://www.bagogames.com/psp-fallen-vita-rise/) mentions how the PSVita will be able to rise and succeed in where the PSP failed. Now right on IGN, they covered an article stating how PSPs have been selling more in Japan than the Vita (http://vita.ign.com/articles/122/1221450p1.html). With the cost of the Vita, who can really blame consumers? The Vita costs just as much as a PS3 at $ 300 if you get the 3G one; though if you get the WiFi you would still be paying for a memory card which raises the price back to what the 3G costed. This doesnít even include games, and even the screen protector you WILL need if you want to keep fingerprints off your new tech. You can download PSP games onto your Vita, but if you already own a PSP there is no point to downloading those games considering its more expensive to buy them on the PSN. If one were to search on Google right now, you can see that Sony has not stated any program to compensate for those who paid for the UMDs of the same games on the PSN for the PSPs and want to transfer them over to the new device. Also if you search Google, you must go through hoops to transfer your save data from one to the other. The signs of greed do not stop there though, there are also developer scandals.
Developer scandals arenít new to the video game industry; in fact itís been here since DLC was introduced and hidden on disc content advertised as DLC. Many have complained about the Mass Effect 3 day-one DLC. BioWare, under the guise of EA, has even already announced a new ending in response to their customersí complaints, but can one really tell if they responded accordingly towards costumer conserns or did they plan this? As Capcom and EA continue to give their customers the short end of the stick, their competitor at Neatherrealm Studios gave their customers a great game out of the box with all the features needed for a modern fighter without the need of DLC. When DLC is implemented right it doesnít feel as if the customers are getting shafted and more like an effort is being made on the developersí end, which leads into the next topic at hand, the battle against used games.
The battle against the used video game market is a very controversial topic; many believe in supporting developers who have spent all their time and effort into making the game you paid for by buying new games. Others believe that during times of crisis, such as the one we are in now, video games arenít worth a full tag price because of many of these new strategies implemented by the gaming industry in this article. Now for those who believe in paying full tag price is it fair that some of these publishers, like EA, require you to input an online pass just so you can play online? Is it fair that some video games, like Kingdoms of Alumar, require an online pass that will effect offline content somewhat? The answer for both of these questions are no we should not have to. I am not saying that I should not pay for DLC, but if a game is used and requires an online pass for twenty dollars would that not just mean I paid almost retail price? Does that mean if I rent a game from Blockbuster or Redbox and want to try online I have to pay for the pass anyway? When I buy a game, do I own it or do the companies that made it own it? That is the essential debate that circles the industry as a whole, which results in Microsoft and other companies withholding many announcements regarding new hardware for home consoles. Though many believe when you download content it cuts out the middle man (the retailer) and gives it to the developers since they own it, but does that really explain why all developers are copying one another and possibly over saturating the market?
If you've gotten this far and haven't thought, "Too long, didn't read...don't care, you're just complaining," this is what all this rambling is about. I want developers, publishers, and gamers all to be on the same page for once and look at all these problems objectively. These are problems that can't be ignored, especially now that mobile devices like the iPhone and Android powered phones seem to have the upper hand over home consoles in sales (at least for now). In addition to mobile devices winning over all market sales there are rumors about next gen consoles being restricted to only play new games. In the end, this is a media problem, but there should be a line drawn between consumers and publishers on how games are priced and what content should be considered DLC and what should be sold out of box. I am not saying that all games should be 99 cents like downloadable apps on iPhone, Window Mobile Devices, and Android Mobile Devices. I believe that video games should cost what you earn in entertainment, because the average consumer (parents, and other casual video gamers) aren't willing to pay fifty dollars for a game that would cost seventy dollars by including DLC.