Three Ways to Save the Vita and Why Sony Won't Do Them

Posted by yeah_write (213 posts) -

The Vita isn’t doing great. I wouldn’t call it a failure, but it’s not exactly flying off the shelves. Sony could fix that, but in typical Sony fashion, they’re going about it the wrong way. Here are three things they could do to turn things around, but definitely won’t.

1. DROP PRICES

The Vita hardware and software need to be cheaper. I think a $50 slash in the price of hardware would work. Sell it at $199, where it can compete with Google’s Nexus 7 (because let’s be honest, Sony wants this to be more than just a gaming machine), and bundle in one of those expensive proprietary memory cards. Right now, buying a Vita, a memory card and a game will cost about $350. There’s a long list of gadgets that you could get with that same amount of money or less, most of which can play games that look as good as what the Vita offers.

Software needs to come down from $50 to $20. It doesn’t matter if the games offer console quality experiences. People are not conditioned to pay that much for a mobile game. That’s console game pricing. If I’m going to spend that much on a game, it’s going to be one I can play on my big TV.

Now they don’t have to slash prices to iOS app store lows, just bring them down to something more reasonable. Make the Vita a PSN game machine. Stuff it full of $10 to $20 downloadable games. If we’ve learned anything this generation of consoles, it’s that downloadable games can be some of the best, most memorable experiences, even if they’re short or not as graphically impressive. We’ve also learned that for many people, good enough is good enough when it comes to mobile games. I’d honestly buy this, before buying this (I know that's a link to the 3DS game. Seems it didn't even come out on Vita). It’s cheaper, satisfies my Spidey addiction, and works on my current devices.

SONY WON’T DO IT BECAUSE:

They can’t afford to take the hit on the hardware, not right now. Sony is not as strong as they used to be, and eating that cost is too risky. They’re being conservative with their cash and it shows. Cross Buy games? More apps? Those are relatively easy things to do that could result in more users, which would then result in more third party support (something they desperately need). The Cross Buy thing is cool, but it’s not a system seller. It’s a nice perk to those already invested in the Sony ecosystem. I can play many of the same Steam games on my laptop and my more-powerful desktop. It’s a nice perk, but it doesn’t make me play games on my laptop more.

Slashing prices on hardware and software makes sense, but only if they have the funds to support it. They don’t. Sony’s doing what they can to add value while keeping profit margins high.

2. INTEGRATE GOOGLE PLAY

This would be a game changer. Sony’s already got a line of Android phones. Instead of trying to push their half-assed PS certification appto their non-gaming devices, why not try to bring Google’s superior play store in? The Vita already has all the features needed for smartphone games to work. I’d even settle for a curated Google Play experience, like Amazon’s app store. If the Vita could play the games I have on my smart phone and offer physical controls, it would jump to the top of my must-have gadget list (FYI - the Nexus 7 works with an Xbox 360 controller). This would also help with game pricing. Mix in some “big budget” $20 Vita games with all those cheap $.99 phone games and you’ve got a compelling and diverse ecosystem.

SONY WON’T DO IT BECAUSE:

So many reasons. Admitting that their current store and pricing strategy is no good will never happen—those old Japanese companies have a lot of pride in their legacy experiences, even if they’re crap now. Technically, it might not be possible, and developing a way to make it happen could cost a lot of money. Also Sony is crazy about preventing piracy. The Android market has all kinds of emulators and piracy-friendly apps and modder-friendly tools.

3. FOCUS ON THE NEW

Has anyone played Cool Boarders recently? It didn’t age well, and it looks like crap. That’s the case with most PSone games. I appreciate Sony’s willingness to go back to the well, but the water’s not as pure as Nintendo’s. Many PSone and early PS2 games can’t stand the test of time. So many advances have been made in 3D game design, that it’s difficult to play those old games as anything other than a curiosity-fueled experiment or a nostalgia trip.

Give us Crash Bandicoot and the God of War games, give us PSP classics like Patapon and Wipeout, but leave Jet Moto where it is. Trotting those jagged old games out and pricing them at $5 to $10 isn’t a huge selling point. They’re old and gross. Give the people newgames at that price point, that will move systems.

SONY WON’T DO IT BECAUSE:

It’s easy money and a nice bullet point for a press conference. The original Playstation came out in America in 1995. That’s SEVENTEEN years ago. That coveted 18 to 24 demographic every game company seems to aim for? They were kids, toddlers even, during the PSone days. I like to revisit the classics from time to time, but never to the point that I wish I could have them with me at all times. I want new games. Why would I buy a Vita, with all its high-tech hardware, to play 17-year-old games?

Nintendo’s got a much larger, richer library, and they don’t parade around the press circuit every time a classic NES, SNES or GBA library is available for download on a new system. Go to the 3DS eshop. There are a ton of classic games from a bunch of different systems just sitting there, ready for download. Nintendo knows some type of backwards compatibility is expected these days. It’s barely even worth mentioning anymore. Unless you’re Sony. Then the world should know about how you can finally play gems like Battle Arena Toshinden on the go.

What’s the takeaway? Sony should bring new, affordable games to a cheaper system with a better ecosystem. What they will do instead is continue to bring $50 games to their too-expensive system while trumpeting their back catalog of old titles. Good work Sony.

#1 Posted by yeah_write (213 posts) -

The Vita isn’t doing great. I wouldn’t call it a failure, but it’s not exactly flying off the shelves. Sony could fix that, but in typical Sony fashion, they’re going about it the wrong way. Here are three things they could do to turn things around, but definitely won’t.

1. DROP PRICES

The Vita hardware and software need to be cheaper. I think a $50 slash in the price of hardware would work. Sell it at $199, where it can compete with Google’s Nexus 7 (because let’s be honest, Sony wants this to be more than just a gaming machine), and bundle in one of those expensive proprietary memory cards. Right now, buying a Vita, a memory card and a game will cost about $350. There’s a long list of gadgets that you could get with that same amount of money or less, most of which can play games that look as good as what the Vita offers.

Software needs to come down from $50 to $20. It doesn’t matter if the games offer console quality experiences. People are not conditioned to pay that much for a mobile game. That’s console game pricing. If I’m going to spend that much on a game, it’s going to be one I can play on my big TV.

Now they don’t have to slash prices to iOS app store lows, just bring them down to something more reasonable. Make the Vita a PSN game machine. Stuff it full of $10 to $20 downloadable games. If we’ve learned anything this generation of consoles, it’s that downloadable games can be some of the best, most memorable experiences, even if they’re short or not as graphically impressive. We’ve also learned that for many people, good enough is good enough when it comes to mobile games. I’d honestly buy this, before buying this (I know that's a link to the 3DS game. Seems it didn't even come out on Vita). It’s cheaper, satisfies my Spidey addiction, and works on my current devices.

SONY WON’T DO IT BECAUSE:

They can’t afford to take the hit on the hardware, not right now. Sony is not as strong as they used to be, and eating that cost is too risky. They’re being conservative with their cash and it shows. Cross Buy games? More apps? Those are relatively easy things to do that could result in more users, which would then result in more third party support (something they desperately need). The Cross Buy thing is cool, but it’s not a system seller. It’s a nice perk to those already invested in the Sony ecosystem. I can play many of the same Steam games on my laptop and my more-powerful desktop. It’s a nice perk, but it doesn’t make me play games on my laptop more.

Slashing prices on hardware and software makes sense, but only if they have the funds to support it. They don’t. Sony’s doing what they can to add value while keeping profit margins high.

2. INTEGRATE GOOGLE PLAY

This would be a game changer. Sony’s already got a line of Android phones. Instead of trying to push their half-assed PS certification appto their non-gaming devices, why not try to bring Google’s superior play store in? The Vita already has all the features needed for smartphone games to work. I’d even settle for a curated Google Play experience, like Amazon’s app store. If the Vita could play the games I have on my smart phone and offer physical controls, it would jump to the top of my must-have gadget list (FYI - the Nexus 7 works with an Xbox 360 controller). This would also help with game pricing. Mix in some “big budget” $20 Vita games with all those cheap $.99 phone games and you’ve got a compelling and diverse ecosystem.

SONY WON’T DO IT BECAUSE:

So many reasons. Admitting that their current store and pricing strategy is no good will never happen—those old Japanese companies have a lot of pride in their legacy experiences, even if they’re crap now. Technically, it might not be possible, and developing a way to make it happen could cost a lot of money. Also Sony is crazy about preventing piracy. The Android market has all kinds of emulators and piracy-friendly apps and modder-friendly tools.

3. FOCUS ON THE NEW

Has anyone played Cool Boarders recently? It didn’t age well, and it looks like crap. That’s the case with most PSone games. I appreciate Sony’s willingness to go back to the well, but the water’s not as pure as Nintendo’s. Many PSone and early PS2 games can’t stand the test of time. So many advances have been made in 3D game design, that it’s difficult to play those old games as anything other than a curiosity-fueled experiment or a nostalgia trip.

Give us Crash Bandicoot and the God of War games, give us PSP classics like Patapon and Wipeout, but leave Jet Moto where it is. Trotting those jagged old games out and pricing them at $5 to $10 isn’t a huge selling point. They’re old and gross. Give the people newgames at that price point, that will move systems.

SONY WON’T DO IT BECAUSE:

It’s easy money and a nice bullet point for a press conference. The original Playstation came out in America in 1995. That’s SEVENTEEN years ago. That coveted 18 to 24 demographic every game company seems to aim for? They were kids, toddlers even, during the PSone days. I like to revisit the classics from time to time, but never to the point that I wish I could have them with me at all times. I want new games. Why would I buy a Vita, with all its high-tech hardware, to play 17-year-old games?

Nintendo’s got a much larger, richer library, and they don’t parade around the press circuit every time a classic NES, SNES or GBA library is available for download on a new system. Go to the 3DS eshop. There are a ton of classic games from a bunch of different systems just sitting there, ready for download. Nintendo knows some type of backwards compatibility is expected these days. It’s barely even worth mentioning anymore. Unless you’re Sony. Then the world should know about how you can finally play gems like Battle Arena Toshinden on the go.

What’s the takeaway? Sony should bring new, affordable games to a cheaper system with a better ecosystem. What they will do instead is continue to bring $50 games to their too-expensive system while trumpeting their back catalog of old titles. Good work Sony.

#2 Edited by Dagbiker (6899 posts) -

Sony typicality goes about things the wrong way, you know, consumerising , and standardizing Compact Discs and 3.5 inch Discs... thats all i can think of.

#3 Posted by NoobSauceG7 (1211 posts) -

You forgot number 4...

MAKE GAMES THAT PEOPLE WANT TO PLAY!!! (And I already have Persona 4 on PS2 so I don't want to spend almost $300 to get it again).

#4 Posted by yeah_write (213 posts) -

@NoobSauceG7: Yeah, that goes without saying. They need to make people feel like they're missing out if they don't own a Vita. Right now, there's nothing there that I can't play a better version of somewhere else. Also, the Cross Buy program isn't a great way to make people feel like they're missing out on owning a Vita. It's like when you buy a Blu-Ray and the DVD version is in there too and you're like, "Oh, that's cool I guess."

#5 Edited by jesterroyal (339 posts) -

I think you sort of shot your own argument in the foot. You had decent points but then completely explained why these decisions would be bad for Sony. I don't really think its possible for something to be bad for Sony and good for vita at the same time.

But for the sake of argument, I'm not sure the vita needs saving. I just played 8 hours of hot shots golf while i was home sick from work today and loved every minute of it. Vita just "has no games". Same thing happened with the ps3, psp, wii, and every other console in recent history. Its off to a slow start and isn't selling like gangbusters because monster hunter hasn't hit it yet. I also don't think they are focusing so heavily on the old that it even remotely effects the ability to pump out new stuff. If the perpetually delayed release of firmware 1.8 (that will give us PSOne support) is any indication, its not really a priority. Sony has always been the king of backwards compatibility too which used to not be a thing on non handheld consoles before the PS2. Its only recently that Nintendo has decided to give people that chance with the e shop. For me, backwards compatibility on the vita only means getting to play FFIX on the couch while i watch Holmes on Homes or something equally placid.

Sony knows the deal by now and is just biding time because therse no reason not to. They make consoles for 10 years, as they've always said, and it not even out of year one for the vita. Producing these guys isn't losing them that much money and they don't really have to sell them to be doing okay as a company at the moment.

#6 Posted by Slag (3365 posts) -

@NoobSauceG7 said:

You forgot number 4...

MAKE GAMES THAT PEOPLE WANT TO PLAY!!! (And I already have Persona 4 on PS2 so I don't want to spend almost $300 to get it again).

Number 4 is all that matters in this case.

#7 Edited by BestUsernameEver (4866 posts) -
I appreciate Sony’s willingness to go back to the well, but the water’s not as pure as Nintendo’s
  • That's like, an opinion man.
This would be a game changer. Sony’s already got a line of Android phones
  • No it wouldn't, a ton of people already have android phones, and just putting some android apps on a 250 dollar gaming handheld doesn't sound enticing, even to me with no android device at all.
  • As for price drop? Come on now, the 3DSXL is 200 dollars now, and the vita has much better hardware (raw specs wise) for them to get close to the XL price. Seriously, stop complaining about Vita's price, it's actually impressive for the amount of crap they put in it.
  • And one last thing, the vita stinks right now, but it's not for any of the reasons you stated, it just needs original games, badly. If they convince more developers over, I think that's the best way to gain marketshare.
#8 Posted by Shakezula84 (439 posts) -

The only thing the Vita needs right now are games, and hopefully some of the games coming out this xmas will be the right games for people.

I don't know where the average gamer sits right now, but I can buy maybe four games a year. Tops. I own a PS3 and a Vita. I have to be picky, but even if I even it out (two for PS3 and two for Vita) then I can only pick two games, and right now I own two games for Vita (Katamari and Mortal Kombat) if you don't count the free games they have given out.

#9 Edited by Snail (8478 posts) -

To be fair I think I've heard of some pretty decent bundles. I'm not sure if these ever come with memory cards, but there are certainly some with games right? I'm just pointing out that your 350$ "minimum price tag" is a bit extremist.

Also, regarding your last argument: I was apparently not even two years old when it was released in the US (which is really surprising me), and I was almost seven when the following generation of consoles was released. Though I got a GameCube almost immediately it took me a few more years (I think two) to get a PS2.

So I don't understand why you're pointing out that selling games from the PS1 does not target the "coveted 18 to 24 demographic". I am within that demographic, and that's why I want some PS1 games to be made available on the Playstation Store: I feel nostalgic about them. Otherwise I probably wouldn't want them. So by releasing those games, they are still targeting that age-group. I kinda sorta agree with what you said about these releases on the Playstation Store to an extent, but a) it's something that I want and b) it does get that demographic, and it makes sense for Sony.

#10 Posted by GooieGreen (452 posts) -

Having a large packed-in memory would be ideal. I do think price has something to do with it, but having some usable memory either built-in or with the unit itself would go a long way. The launch titles have dropped in price at retail by a lot now (some more than others), so asking someone to pay $270 before tax on Hot Shots Golf doesn't seem terrible... aside from Sony re-releasing Hot Shots Golf on PS3 in the coming months.

As long as Sony continues to struggle with getting developers on board with exciting and original titles (sorry, cross-buy games), things aren't going to get better. If you give people a good enough reason to buy something, within reason, they will at any price. The price of the hardware nor the games are entirely unreasonable for an otherwise non-essential product. Assassin's Creed might bring in more gamers, and those are the kind of familiar yet original games the Vita needs. Killzone is popular enough to sell more units, too. You could successfully sell a bundle for $350 with either AC or Killzone, a moderate memory card, and free PS+ for however many months. You could throw in a bunch of things and it will sell at that price while remaining profitable. But most importantly, it will sell. Sony needs to stop selling to Sony fans and start selling to other gamers.

#11 Posted by TheHBK (5415 posts) -

Price man, price. Times have changed big with iOS and android apps costing so little and that includes games. As much as Nintendo got heat for the price drop so soon, it made a huuuuuge difference. Also while games on that system still cost too much for my taste, handheld games should cost half of what console games do, just a rule for me. But the 3DS, as much as some don't like the 3D, the 2 screens still offer a way different gaming experience than what you get on the Vita or smart phone. The Vita is just not different enough from what is out there to warrant a purchase, especially when smart phones are something gamers will most likely have in their pocket as well.

@BestUsernameEver said:

I appreciate Sony’s willingness to go back to the well, but the water’s not as pure as Nintendo’s
  • That's like, an opinion man.

I would state it as fact if we look back. The PS1 games that they put out are good novelties but they would not stand a chance if they were put out as full on retail releases like what Nintendo can do, over and over again. 3D games age horribly because they were just trying to get the things to run without crashing and having polygons disappear. Crash bandicoot is an example of that game that was cool because it was rendered in 3D, not because it was actually that good. But Nintendo has 2D classics it can also go back to that are still cherished and has those to go to as well. The well is clearer and the well is deeper. Remember this? This is what Sony thought was a great game to show off PS1 games played on handhelds... How about some Metal Gear Solid?

#12 Posted by EXTomar (4133 posts) -

I get the distinct impression the Vita was someone's "baby" where that leader or executive is no longer with Sony but it was too late to kill it. Those that are left don't know what to do with it or don't care which is fine by me because I'm not interested in another portable system.

#13 Posted by DoctorDanger99 (686 posts) -

ive said it before and ill say it again.its a long game with the vita.i consider it an investment. theres not much now but i know in time there will be.if i had one complaint it would be the price of games.sure,40 bucks for the MGS hd collection is well worth the price but its still too high.most of the games i play are old psp games on it and they are very over priced.

#14 Posted by phantomzxro (1532 posts) -

Well don't know about the google play point because that would slow down other game companies to make games for the vita when many would start buying cell phone games that are a dollar(or at least that would be their rational). A better option is to make minis a better bargain for vita users.

Focus on the new will work as long as Sony can make new experiences only on the vita which i know is hard when they try to pump all the Sony franchise on the vita too. That will only get the vita so far we need more games like gravity rush on the vita before people start taking a look.

Also vita needs to pick up a niche in the wild world of gaming. The reason psp started to blow up at least in japan and to some degree here is because it became the home for smaller funded rpgs that would not have made it on home consoles. Monster hunter in japan was all the japan base hand gamers needed but over here in the west there was a bit of a shortage of jrpgs which psp helped remedy. If the vita can take that to the next level i feel that alone would push some healthy numbers.

#15 Posted by BlackLagoon (1325 posts) -

PS Mobile - Android has numerous problems for developers, with diverging software and hardware making it very costly and time consuming to create a game runs well on everything. It's also full of free stuff, a lot of it crap, making it hard for devs to make their games get noticed, let alone get people willing to pay for it. The end result is that many mobile and indie developers don't consider Android worth it. The idea with PS Mobile is to address these problems with both hardware and software certified by Sony, and to be a bit more restrictive about what gets into the store. It is actually a smart move, could secure Sony a good amount of unique content over Android and the 3DS, and it'll be interesting to see where it goes from launch.

Focus on the new - That's like saying you should skip your daily workout and focus on winning the Olympics. The resources required to certify a PSOne game for the Vita emulator are nothing compared to launching a new title, and it is a requested and profiable feature.

#16 Posted by BestUsernameEver (4866 posts) -

@TheHBK said:

Price man, price. Times have changed big with iOS and android apps costing so little and that includes games. As much as Nintendo got heat for the price drop so soon, it made a huuuuuge difference. Also while games on that system still cost too much for my taste, handheld games should cost half of what console games do, just a rule for me. But the 3DS, as much as some don't like the 3D, the 2 screens still offer a way different gaming experience than what you get on the Vita or smart phone. The Vita is just not different enough from what is out there to warrant a purchase, especially when smart phones are something gamers will most likely have in their pocket as well.

@BestUsernameEver said:

I appreciate Sony’s willingness to go back to the well, but the water’s not as pure as Nintendo’s
  • That's like, an opinion man.

I would state it as fact if we look back. The PS1 games that they put out are good novelties but they would not stand a chance if they were put out as full on retail releases like what Nintendo can do, over and over again. 3D games age horribly because they were just trying to get the things to run without crashing and having polygons disappear. Crash bandicoot is an example of that game that was cool because it was rendered in 3D, not because it was actually that good. But Nintendo has 2D classics it can also go back to that are still cherished and has those to go to as well. The well is clearer and the well is deeper. Remember this? This is what Sony thought was a great game to show off PS1 games played on handhelds... How about some Metal Gear Solid?

That is not a fact, it's an opinion.

#17 Posted by TheHBK (5415 posts) -

@BestUsernameEver:

There are sometimes things that may seem like opinions, and maybe they are, but they can also be things of undeniable fact as Jor-El once stated. Nintendo, clearly has a deeper and more rich back catalog of classic games. Clearly. I mean, who would even contest this? The classics of the NES and Super Nintendo alone destroy what Sony put out for the PS1. We mostly remember the PS1 for the third party games but Sony's catalog for those PS1 games is not that great. Maybe the first 2 twisted metals but again, those don't stand the test of time. But the NES and SNES have the Zeldas, the Metroids, the Kirbys, the Mario Kart, Super Mario games. You could say it is a wash between their own catalogs for what came after, N64 vs PS1, Gamecube vs PS2, but what makes this a fact and not opinion is that Nintendo has the classics on systems that Sony never competed against, never put out games at the time. Numbers don't lie. Sony just doesn't have the catalog Nintendo does because of those 15 years of producing games before Sony did and that is a fact.

#18 Posted by BestUsernameEver (4866 posts) -

@TheHBK: This isn't a conversation worth having, since you clearly don't know what I mean. Simply because Nintendo has been around longer needs no reason as an example, since it's opinion to say there are more 'classics' on Nintendos side.

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