This blog has been a looooong time coming, which should be unsurprising for anyone who sees me constantly whine about the Vita whenever the opportunity to do so presents itself-like in any article where something Sony and Vita related happened. Well, I think it’s about time I actually put out my full thoughts and opinions on the matter into blog form and went into detail about why I feel the way I do about the Vita.
The PlayStation Vita came out on February 15 2012, around 4 years ago in a week or two. When Sony announced the system, it looked so very fascinating to me. That interest grew, and I bought it day one, by going into the terrifying world that is early morning Wal-Mart. I worked there at the time, and went in hoping to grab one around 6 before school started. They had to go back and get it from the backroom, causing worry that I might have come in for naught-but there it was for me to buy. I then bought a package bundle with an 8GB card, a holder I affectionately called a sock, a screen cover and a pair of cheap headphones.
I recall taking it to school, setting it up, and immediately being enthralled with the system. The little flip page opening, the music, and the layout of the menu-all of it was just cool to me from go. I really liked the systems aesthetics, it’s incredibly well designed, plays well and despite the analog sticks not being perfect, I find everything else to feel good. Even now, I still love the system and its aesthetic decisions, even if few games take full advantage of its numerous hardware features-and even fewer of those games do that well.
The OLED screen is gorgeous, and I love playing games on it so much that I personally consider the system to be my favorite console of em all. If I have the choice, I prefer to play indie games and what-not on this system rather than PC and will continue to do so until it’s no longer possible. I love this thing to death, and despite the problems it’s had throughout its short life cycle I have never regretted grabbing it day one.
Unfortunately problems there were, even if most of them were with the company rather than the system itself. The first problem actually seems like a boon at first-digital games with physical releases cost less than the physical version, which is something many people have noticed doesn’t seem to apply to games normally and seemed like a good thing.
However, I believe that decision was rooted in the underhanded pricing scheme proprietary memory cards the vita uses. These tiny little SD cards only work for the Vita, and only Sony makes them-and it shows. A 16 GB memory card from SanDisk costs $5.99 on Amazon.
A 16 GB memory card for the PlayStation vita costs $40 dollars, around 6-7 times more than that card and a 64 GB vita memory card costs around $100 dollars-as opposed to a SanDisk card for around $22 dollars. That mark-up is insane, and it’s a completely transparent attempt to bilk people who might want to have lots of storage and games on their Vita out of more money for a $250 dollar console. The base console by itself also doesn’t come with a memory card unless specifically bundled with one which I find to be scummy given the proprietary nature of it. Some people may argue that its a one time purchase, or that you might only need to buy one, but personally being ripped off still irritates me-even if its only a one time ripoff. Add in the fact that apparently the cards might be at a lower class of speed than the cheaper alternatives, and that they seem to be inconsistent and you get an additional pile of crap added to the growing mound.
The internet browser was also laughable, barely functioning for anything more complex than a webpage made in the early 2000’S-much like the PS3 and PSP’s internet, come to think of it-, and the system had some pointless apps built in to it-but most systems do, so c’est la vie. And then there was remote play, a feature so over-hyped and under delivered that Sony had to give a 50 dollar gift card-though they later managed to drop that to a 25 dollar gift card-by order of the Federal Trade Commission. The feature barely worked, barely works, and doesn’t allow you to do anything but sit and stare at your PS3's main screen-even indie games don’t work with it.
Finally, in its early days the system suffered from a serious game drought. The situation got better as time went on, but it never really lost the reputation for that and it didn’t help when Sony dragged its ass on getting PS1 and PS2 classics on the system, depriving it of a lot of classic games that-as a later bug which Sony “helpfully” fixed exposed-could be made to run on the system, even if they ran with some issues.
And The Sony.
I don’t feel that dramatically about this, but thought it would be a fun reference.
Ah, but if I love the Vita so much then why is it at the state it’s in? It’s a legacy console, and Sony has all but given up on the system with that admission-3 years old and already branded as such. To find the answer one must look at the tree from which the apple fell, from whose other apples often wither away and share the same fate as the vita in due time-Sony.
The Jak and Daxter collection came to vita and PS3, a game that I personally was very interested in due to my past experience with the franchise. Sadly it was buggy and had significant issues by online accounts, as well as first hand experience by one my buddies, that made it a no go. Even now, it’s never been patched and given how long its been it’s probably never going to be patched. Resistance, which had an excellent PSP game, got Burning skies, one of the first FPS games on Vita....and one that got awful reviews. The game was panned, and it was later revealed that it had been given to an inexperienced studio-Nihilistic Software-which was also given the call of duty game for vita in the same time period. Needless to say, that game was also panned and was apparently far too short for the price tag even ignoring quality. Killzone mercenary was a solid game, but it took a bit too long to arrive for the main vita push-though given that it turned out being solid, that’s better than what happened with the other games.
While one could argue that these games quality and state wasn’t directly a result of Sony’s actions, the decisions they made in these areas-and the fact that one of those games hasn’t been patched despite its issues and despite it being one of the bigger franchises on PS2-lead to their inevitable less than ideal state.
Of all the issues with the Vita, there is no one issue as significant as the issue of the company who made it showing complete disinterest in the system after a certain point. At first Sony seemed to be providing, but when the system wasn’t performing as well as expected Sony stopped pushing and gave up. This isn’t an isolated instance either-PlayStation move, eye toy, wonder book, all of these were abandoned after a short time and after Sony decided giving up was easier than pushing and trying to make the devices find a wider audience. To me, this attitude seems like one endemic to their corporate culture and there's a handful of products that back my belief of that up.
Wonderbook was pushed out during an E3 devoid of the Vita-with support from J.K. Rowling no less-only for it to die almost immediately after being announced and never talked about again.
Move was also pushed, and while it did make it for a small amount of time it too was eventually abandoned-though it may make a small comeback around the time between the Sony VR getting released and being abandoned.
The eye toy had a small push, with a little animal friend and other things….and was also swiftly abandoned. And now the Vita has suffered the same fate, as Sony has all but given up talking about it. They only quietly mentioned recently that the system was now a legacy console, and other than that have said almost nothing about the system.
Ultimately blaming Sony entirely for the Vitas failure might not be entirely fair. Smartphones are big, mobile gaming is big, and a handheld gaming system with that much power at that price probably wasn’t going to set the world on fire. Heck even the 3DS had sluggish sales at first, and wasn’t doing that well for Nintendo.
But therein lies the rub, doesn’t it? Because despite a recent slowdown the 3DS has managed to sell pretty well and find large group people interested in it-with more units sold than the Xbone and PS4 combined [EDIT:Thanks Riobux!]. Some could argue that Nintendo’s has name recognition on its side, but I think there’s more to it than that. When sales were sluggish, and the system wasn’t selling well Sony stopped pushing. They offered some support, but their bungling of certain features and halfassing of other features noted above preceded the vitas free-fall. But Nintendo kept putting out high quality games, updating the virtual console and kept pushing-and found success.
And I suppose that’s my biggest issue with Sony’s abandonment of the system. Had they pushed more, made less lazy decisions and not given up when things got tough the Vita might have found its niche. In some respects it has, as the system still gets indie games and seems to be popular in Japan-yet Sony remains silent and seems to want to wash its hands of the system. But the system might have been able to do so much better if Sony had kept pushing, kept releasing new games and had kept the quality of their games to a higher level. A lot of why the Vita failed can be traced back to poor decisions on Sony’s part, and it’s just so disheartening to have watched in real time a beautiful thing mishandled and left to die.
Some of you may think I’m being a bit dramatic here, but remember this is a system I love. Seeing it run into the ground hurts, and has hurt for a while. This blog is just me getting it off my chest and vocalizing how I feel about the console. Despite the systems “failure” I continue to play it constantly, and will endeavor to do so until I am no longer able to. It’s still my preferred console, it’s a console I have never regretted, and it’s still something that fills me with bitterness when I see what’s befallen it-a system I hold in such high regard.