How to save the PS Vita

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.

Pricing:

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.

Playstation Mobile:

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.

Going Mobile:

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.)

New Hardware:

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.

iOS Factor:

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).

Games:

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.

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Returning to Skyrim

My year of no new games is in full effect. I made a rule. I would allow any expansion or DLC for any game I currently own. When the Xbox live sale for the Skyrim DLC hit I jumped in. I had mid level character that I wasn't really happy with. I typically play the TES games as a light armored rogue-ish warrior with some magic skills for enchanting or buffing. I decided this go round to play a full on heavy armored mage. I over invested my game time into trade skills. My character ended up not being that fun. And despite the lost time I decided to re-roll.

I made a Breton female and I am having a blast with her. I am slowing leveling many my battle abilities. It is pretty crazy that except for destruction magic my 10 hours in invested in this new character has already reached higher skills in one hand combat (I used spells in my off hand and finished them off when i ran out of mana with my sword so its not that big of a surprise) and armor.

Will be updating as I go on. But this re-roll was super painless and I am glad I did so.

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My Back Log Project

I've been thinking about the amount of money I spend on games and the rate at which I finish them. I would be lying to say that I don't move onto the latest and greatest before I finish the game I am currently playing. Its a sad fact, your friends get the new multiplayer game and you jump on. Your poor abandoned friends in a JRPG or the folks in Skyrim wait around for you to never return.

I don't know how far back most people care to go on their backlogs but I am willing to go back to the PS1 era. I loved JRPGs at a point in my life but they really can be a drag when you share the house with people who want to watch TV. They also look pretty terrible on the large screen. The Vita's addition of allowing you to play PS1 games opened up a world of games that I thought I would never play again. The PSP did this but I never really got into that platform for whatever reason. I had a few games for it but it just never clicked for me.

My other big problem was that I was an avid WoW player at the tail end of the last gen and probably up to the middle of this current gen. Many of those games never got finished and its likely that I am only going to finish Final Fantasy 12 and Dragon Quest 8 from that gen. Again, its hard to take over the tv so I don't know how much of that is actually reasonable.

My plan is to finish the games I start this year and to finish the games I have started in years past. I am a game jumper by nature. I can play something very hard core for a long time and at other times just jump from game to game to game as the mood suits me. I will try to post what I am playing, how far I have come track my level ups for the year. I think I will just post the level up updates at the end of each month.

The VITA is my primary platform of choice and if you aren't a Vita or PC fan you might get bored fairly quickly with my updates (like anyone is reading this anyway).

Currently Playing:

Diablo 3

Deus Ex Human Revolution

Gravity Rush

Persona 4 Golden

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions

Sly Copper Thieves in Time

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So I beat Dead Space.

Dead Space does a lot of things right. The mood of the game is perfect for what it is. The monsters are well designed and I really enjoyed the way the game had you dismember the enemies instead of going for head shots. It took a bit to retrain my brain to not shoot for the face. Why didn’t I love the game? I think the way they made the game scary was with the use of a lot of cheap “gotcha” scary moments. Queue the dogs jumping through the window in RE1. After a while I just felt tense that something was going to jump out and then eventually I didn’t feel any fear as I went through the later stages. I became numb to the tactics the game employed. Not saying RE as a series is any better but for whatever reason I did enjoy those games more. I will say this, the game controls like how I wish RE would (RE5 mostly fixed it though). I am not a fan of the inventory system but at the same time its nice to see someone try something new with the no menu hud. In the end, I think EA has a good franchise in this genre. I would like to see a less clichéd story in the next entry in the series.

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Ace Attorney

Comic Con day 1.

Today Capcom announced the latest entry into the Ace Attorney series. I recently introduced myself to the series, which makes this announcement that much more exciting for me. Hopefully they will play up the deceptive nature of the character and allow you to manipulate the evidence and coerce the witnesses. 

-Kawika
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Greetings from the 1up Exodus

Hello Giant Bomb,

I am an 1up ex-patriot (and an ex gamespotter). After today's news of 1up basically being destroyed I could no longer stay. I hope this will be a great home for my blog and hopefully the new traffic will help Giantbomb grow.  I will try to post regularly and hopefully will make some new friends. 

-Kawika
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