It has been nearly a year and half since the Playstation Vita has launched. During its launch window the 3DS wasn’t selling well and everyone wasn’t sure what the system would do. I actually bought the handheld system within a few weeks of its launch. Critics have complained about the lack of software and its price which seems to fall on deaf ears from Sony. Are they planning a price cut? Are new games going to be announced at E3? Is Sony focusing on the PS4 launch and has left the PSV to flounder till they can focus some attention on it or have they written it off entirely?
The hesitation for developers to jump onto this platform is clear by the lack of AAA/AA quality games. People site what happened to Monster Hunter, the game that saved the PSP from oblivion in its home country, is now a 3DS exclusive. Monster Hunter has yet to catch fire outside of that market but still has a strong following across the world.
For the first time we actually have a portable console that doesn’t have to map typical right stick controls to shoulder buttons or the D Pad. This thing should be something we all want to have but many consumers just don’t care. They are happy with their Smart Phones and go to their consoles and PCs when they want a more robust gaming experience.
I am going to offer some of my opinions and while I suppose many can be rebutted I would like to still make these suggestions as it is to all of gamers benefit to have Sony do well.
The Vita needs a price cut and needs it now. Maybe even a bundle with a 16gb card. The cost of a 32gb card is $100 USD. You can shop around online but its still way more expensive than it should be. Japan recently got a price cut and it has helped quite a bit. If its more affordable, people on the fence might jump in. The flat sales are due, in part, to the price. Nintendo dropped the price of the 3DS and it helped quite a bit. This is an easy shot in the arm to drive some new sales.
The Playstation Store also sells games for the Playstation Mobile devices. These are android games that can work with certain smart phones and tablets as well as the Vita. These games can support traditional control schemes. Many devs are already support devices like Moga. These developers should be courted and help them bring more of these games that are already on Android to Playstation Mobile. Maybe Sony should kick this off by getting EA to port their Dead Space and Mass Effect mobile games.
Another issue is the pricing. PSM games should be the same price as the Google Play store. Why would any consumer pay more money for the same game when it is less than a click away? While we are talking mobile pricing, Sony should really reconsider the $5 minimum charge. Apple doesn’t require you to pay $5 when all you want to spend is $.99.
Sony has the Xperia brand; perhaps it might be time to consider releasing a Vita phone. Having an Android handset that is a Playstation Vita can address the excuse as to why someone doesn’t want to carry around a Smart phone and a gaming device. There are a number of design possibilities. Have the controls slide out like the PSP Go or adding a controller like the Moga or even something that the phone itself clicks into and becomes a Vita without compromising the look and feel of a Smart phone when not being used as a Vita. (Maybe this isn’t reasonable but it is just a thought.)
Every year (and sometimes more than once a year) Apple and its competitors release new and better hardware. Usually touting more processing power, more RAM, more storage, better screen etc. Maybe its time we should expect our hand held systems to be upgraded in a similar way. The PSP did get a RAM upgrade when a new version was released and it actually made some of the games look better. Sony can upgrade their hardware every so often and add more ram, better processor and improved screen. This shouldn’t be anything we should be scared of. As long as Sony promises your original Vita will play the software throughout the life of the system. Newer hardware can have better features as it gets better processing power. Perhaps the new vita could play certain PS2 games. This is just an example and I don’t have any real hopes that PS2 software would actually be compatible with the handheld.
I have noticed for some time a lot of parents are letting their children play on their mobile phones. I have even seen some parents buy multiple ipod touches for their kids. What is nice about this is that the parent can buy multiple touches/iphones and bind them to one account so when they buy a new game it is possible to play them on all the touches. Parents like having hardware with a cheap software library. Currently Sony only lets you bind your PSN account to 2 devices. If consumers can do the same thing with the Vita that they can do with these iOS devices it might get more hardware (and software sold).
Its no secret, many people view the Vita to not have enough games. A few factors are going on. The PSP was hacked to hell with custom firmware and pirates ruined the profits for many of these companies. They are risk averse and don’t want this to become the next hacked device. My suggestions on updating the hardware could help combat the ability for hackers to take over this system. As long as Sony keeps up with the firmware updates and hardware fixes they might be able to hold the widespread hacking from being a deal breaker for most devs and publishers.
Sony needs to think more like Nintendo in this respect now. Since 3rd parties aren’t jumping on due to fear of piracy and slow Vita adoption. Sony’s 1st party should be very busy bringing titles to the platform. Another suggestion is help fund cross play projects. Publishers can release the game on PS3 and Vita. Lastly, they need a killer app. It is unfortunate that last year’s Call of Duty game was a quick and dirty piece of software. If gamers could get a real COD experience on the go it would help them a lot more than some of my other suggestions. Microsoft often pays to get exclusives on their XBOX. Maybe Sony should help fund some projects for the Vita.
Sony is about to release its PS4 and their focus is on that. Perhaps they have plans to help drive Vita sales with the new home console. The Vita has a really good indie scene and if you are into those types of games you might really get a lot of use out of the Vita. Whatever the case is, the Vita is a great piece of hardware and it would be a shame if the best portable device (from a hardware and design perspective) we have seen just flounders because of some of its shortcomings.