So I have been thinking about Sony publicly dropping all development for the PSP Vita. I went through all the stages of grief.
At first I was at denial thinking about how easy it would be for them to launch new games for the Vita, as right now it is the most economical to do so. But then I slowly became angry because I really hate the idea of the PlayStation TV being such a hot mess it is... So easy to fix. Then I started bargaining that Sony would come up with some sort of deal to get third party devs like From Software to put some killer app on it. But that lead to depression as knew that there is no time to do that. So I think I have accepted the fact that the system is doomed from the manufacture.
That said I think Sony learned more this generation from Nintendo than most people think:
Being that this is the perfect time where the hardware and games are entering that range where they are beyond reasonably acceptable and in comparison to a "new" 3DS the Vita is still a freaking beast.
But that is why I think Sony learned from Nintendo's Wii U that you cannot support two platforms within a year of each other that have similar capabilities.
I know you probably are going but Retro, the freaking Game boy never hurt the Super Nintendo or the N64 and the Game boy Advanced never hurt the GameCube.
Well I did some research and there is a few drastic things I learned about the Game boy: It came out three years before the SNES. And while it could play some NES games the resolution and hardware on the system held it back in some way. (not to say it did not get the awesome coding help from the 16bit generation, but there was clearly a huge technical disadvantage to the Game boy) Basically saying that the Game boy could never actually directly compete with the SNES when it came to quality of games.
Likewise, many audio and video people have pointed out that the Game boy Advance could not provide as good audio quality or video resolution as the SNES. It did have some 32bit power to it so we got all those weird "3D" games but at the end of the day the system was kind of better than an SNES but lacked those two things. So naturally a 2D system is never going to compete directly with the GameCube's quality of 3D games.
Even the DS could barely run N64 games without a overhaul of resolution, and the system was launched at least two years before the Wii.
A lot of people have speculated the 3DS for a long time. Why did it flop initially? Why is is successful now?
1) It flopped initially because the media/annalists wanted it to.
2) Nintendo flooded the market with DSi and DSiXL and lost consumer confidence.
3) Nintendo leaked that larger models were being made.
But that is not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about why the 3DS killed the Wii U's potential.
Simply to say that technology had progressed enough that the dual core architecture allowed a much wider bandwidth than previous systems and allowed the 3DS to pull off complex games that were much beyond the GameCube's abilities and much closer to the Wii. That would not be a huge deal except that Nintendo has never had two system directly compete. Even thought the 3DS is much less powerful than the Wii U it could use all the tricks and techniques that Nintendo uses on the Wii U to make their games look better. Which basically meant that you had games that looked and played just as good as what people expected to be able to do on the Wii U.
I put this on the top for a reason and that is because every problem that the Wii U had competing with the 3DS grows from the fact that they can run the same Mario engine, Zelda engine, Star Fox engine, Metroid, ECT and still have about the same game-play experience.
Where is in previous systems there still was a very clear gap between the home and mobile system.
So as we have said that the technology is in the same general ball park as the Wii U, the prices were in an entirely different game all together. After the dramatic price drop to $170, the 3DS was a perfect buy for parents logically. 2 kids + 2 3DS = awesome where is 2 kids + 1 Wii U = someone waiting to play. It would not be so terrible if the Wii U could use multiple Wii U pads, but the thing is so focused on a single user experience that you might as well not consider playing with friends at all. (granted there were some games that went around that, but for the most part you are not going to have two people playing a game online together in the same room with the same console)
Also Nintendo is great about doing pack in games, which makes the $340 for 2 3DS systems seem like a much better deal than $300 + $60 for the Wii U.
Then we get to the whole pricing issue... Nintendo basically shot themselves in the foot. Super Mario 3D Land was $40-$30. When Super Mario Galaxy 2 is $60. Logically if the consumer has never played either, wouldn't they pick the newer one that looks better and is cheaper? Wouldn't they pick it over a Wii U launch title like "New" Super Mario Bors. U for $60? The list keeps going on and on and on and it really comes down to that Nintendo should have raised their prices for 3DS games to $50 or $60. People would have still bought them at about the same rate and it would have pushed a few to buying more Wii U games.
Then there is the whole used games market. Where for some reason a game looses its case and is striped down to the cartridge and sold for $5-$15 less than retail.
Lets face it, most Nintendo fans are only willing to wait as long as it takes for Nintendo to release a game to buy it. So when the console maker releases new updated versions of their games on the hand held system it was like selling candy. Everyone wanted them, so they got everything they wanted that year and did not have to starve for the same experience on the Wii U.
That basically made third parties love making 3DS games, cause they were selling hot. And made them dislike the Wii U because it looked like even Nintendo was struggling to sell their own games on their own system.
To bring this a full circle back, Sony learned from this and basically understood that the Vita is almost as good as the PS3 and thus can run some PS4 games. So to kill the system before it killed the PS4 they cut support and called it a failure and used that as an excuse to keep the prices high so they would never have to deal with the 3DS and Wii U situation. Also they lost first market advantage to Nintendo and quire frankly out-priced themselves out of a good fight.
It would only be right now when Sony could pull the trigger with the Vita and PlayStation TV and they would get some great success as the 3DS is looking older and older. But to do so would divert any PlayStation 4 sales. They cannot cross-buy newer games, cause that is still technically a loss. Making new games for the system is still a loss of sales elsewhere.
That said, the PS4 is looking more and more like the Vita in terms of first party support. There is very few titles that really separate it from the Xbox One. So I can only come to speculate two things:
Either they are planning on some new bold move, or they are planning on selling the company while they are still profitable.
Both of those are crazy ideas but, I wonder if Sony is not in more financial trouble than they let us know. In fact I am getting the same vibes I have gotten from Sega in 2001.
Well anyway it is super late I should go to sleep.
I really enjoy my PlayStation TV and I just imported the Ratchet and Clank Trilogy ( yes I know it is buggy, but heck those games are awsome)