PlayStation Vita: Does Anyone Care?

PlayStation Vita: Does Anyone Care?

Some might argue that the smartphone market is strangling the portable gaming market, but Nintendo and Sony are having none of it. Both companies are pushing against Apple’s advances with immense strength.

At E3 2011, Sony familiarized us with its latest soldier in the fight: The PlayStation Vita, or, if you like, the PS Vita. The portable handheld system, which will probably be available near the end of 2011, will come in two flavors: One with 3G and Wi-Fi support, and one with just Wi-Fi support. Its specs are impressive, its screen is touch-sensitive, bright, and beautiful, and the system will allow for crossover with the PlaysStation 3 and the Playstation Nework. Best of all, this powerful little bundle of chips and wires will retail for an impressive $250 USD (or around $300 plus added fees if you opt for the 3G version).

In other words, the PS Vita is all about powerful tablet-inspired handheld gaming (and cell phone capabilities, if you want ’em) for an attractive price. But between Apple’s growing influence, Nintendo’s market experience, and the PSP’s lackluster reputation in North America, is anyone going to care about the PS Vita come Christmas?

Doubtless the PS Vita will find its niche and will host many cool games, but Sony does have a few bumps in the road ahead of it. Though we still go “Ooo!” over a system’s processing power and graphic-drawing capabilities, they don’t matter much if the games aren’t any fun to play. Of course, this has always been the case with video games: Even the prettiest titles eventually falter and die if they’re not built on a strong, engaging concept. But now we’re more aware of this fact than ever, thanks to the enormous success of simple-looking but addictive smartphone games like Angry Birds and Tiny Wings.

That said, the PS Vita’s impressive graphic-pushing capabilities combined with its $250 price tag will undoubtedly move a few systems amongst core gamers who want console-grade titles on the go. Better questions might be, “Who will be interested in the 3G model of the PS Vita?” and, “What steps will Sony take to make sure the PS Vita is not confused with its other game/phone combo–the Xperia Play?”

The PS Vita’s online capabilities are a big asset, especially the handheld’s ability to access the cloud for game saves. Accessing the cloud will require Wi-Fi connectivity, or, barring that, a 3G connection, which the PS Vita can provide–if you’re willing to pay for it. While having an easy hook-up to the cloud is an appealing thought, it’s not likely too many people are going to find it appealing enough to dish out extra money for, especially since the PS Vita can still save games and game data to its hardware.

3G access also means cell phone capabilities, but is anyone going to buy the PS Vita with telephones in mind? Going back to the aforementioned fans of handheld core gaming, many of them already own smartphones and will be happy enough to pick up a bare-bones PS Vita for $250. The PS Vita is supposed to be a gaming machine first and a telephone second; by contrast, an iPhone is a phone first, and its gaming capabilities are a nice added bonus.

Then there’s the issue of the Xperia Play. Sony released the game-oriented smartphone earlier this spring, and despite early troubles, it’s still popular enough that the average buyer will have to be educated on the differences between the android phone and the PSP’s successor come the holiday season. The potential for confusion might prove disastrous if a weary shopper grabs one for a child or a friend, believing it to be the other.

But no video game system comes into being without numerous problems, and we can count on the PS Vita overcoming its own issues to contend with smartphones and the Nintendo 3DS. Sony has a long fight to the top, but by no means will the PS Vita languish in obscurity.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

4 Comments

  1. I think a key approach for Sony’s strategy was getting developers help in making the portable console, so they would be excited to make games for it, and having a business model that can support both high and low budget games (all games are digital download and bigger ones are also retail).

    I also think the Vita has a unique opportunity in the current market.

    Almost all of portable gaming software is focused on casual gamers. The Vita seems to be taking a blue ocean strategy and is really focusing on core gamers that have probably never owned a portable console in their life.

    It offers a full suite of controls, graphics, low price points, cross game chat, etc. that core gamers love, offers opportunities for new features like cross platform save compatibility and cross platform online multiplayer, and is even starting to get some original core titles, such as: Ruin, Uncharted, Little Deviants, Wipeout, Shinobido, Smart As, Reality Fighters, Sound Shapes, Gravity Daze, Dragon’s Crown, etc.

    I have already seen quite a few people say they never wanted a portable gaming device before and they want a Vita. So, perhaps Sony is on to something.

  2. james braselton

    hi there i just want my console have a youtube suported browser psp vita 3ds dsi psp go dont suport youtube please sony nintendo give us youtube suported browser as optional on your console shops

  3. To be honest we think sonys approach is not a good one. For starters there is no comparability with previous psp installments and who wants to carry an extra item around when we have iPhones in our lives which are getting better for games. Look at the psp go which was a flop

  4. I do think the greatest bittorrent webpage for video games is pspmygames.org , simply because they have got all newest Wii and it is categorized properly and the titles are easy to find.

Leave a Reply