The Vita is in some substantial trouble at the moment, the handheld cannot seem to penetrate the Japanese market while they predecessor the PSP and the competition the 3DS trounce it week after week in units sold. I do not know the sales in the US and other regions, but this is a grim sign. Not the end of the world even though many have called it however, if the 3DS was glowing example of that all it needs is a killer app or two to penetrate that hard to please Japanese market. Once it does that it could easily turn it around, just as Nintendo has done thanks to one faithful plumber.
When the Playstation Vita was announced last year my excitement was through the roof, I was looking for something to pass my time at work and on my breaks and the Vita was my knight in shining armour. I pre ordered not long afterwards, seeing the unique features and the game line-up grow weekly made me even more excited, so excited I purchased a 3DS to tide me over before my eager wait was over. See I have not had a handheld since the Gameboy Advance SP. So I missed the original PSP, the original DS and all iterations, so for me to want to jump into the Vita was an exciting time.
It came. I got my Vita day one in Australia, Uncharted was a little too expensive so I purchased Super Stardust Delta (My most anticipated game) and Escape Plan, Escape Plan was cool for showing off the features the handheld had, but Stardust was where it was at, I was hooked. Handheld gaming was back in my life and I loved it…”But Jamie, you had the 3DS?”, sure but the 3DS has been shown up on how to create a dedicated handheld gaming console by Sony and this blog will explain to you, why, what could be improved and my general feelings on the Vita.
Compared to the 3DS the launch line up for Vita was immensely overpowering, Uncharteds debut on a handheld, Stardust, Lumines, Motorstorm RC, Fifa, Modnation, Wipeout, Escape Plan and Mutant Blob. The thing is they catered to everyone, we can all admit Sony did the best launch they could to win the public over, everyone had at least a few taste buds craved with the line up. So why is it that the Vita did not skyrocket to the top? Monster Hunter, Mario Kart, Super Mario World. 3 titles that no matter how broad Vitas launch games were, could not compete in the Japanese market.
The Vita has features we have as a society grown accustomed to using, touch screen capabilities, tilt controls etc. It has all been seen before, apart from the back touch addition, most of the features have been somewhere or another before. Each game has tried to incorporate these controls in their game in some way, some better than others, but mostly they have in my opinion been disappointing.
First touch, it can be very unresponsive in some games. Uncharted will not get that last swipe to end a boss fight, Escape Plan will make out you did not touch the screen and even Welcome Park(The Vitas tutorial game for the Vita) had response issues for me. Now tilt, Uncharted had issues where you will tilt your recticle on your gun and it will get jammed going one way and will not come back unless you violently shake the Vita, Mutant Blobs had obvious lag with both touch and tilt and Escape Plan has the same issues. Now these are cool features and add something that consoles just cannot do, but the fact is, it feels ahead of its time. What I mean by that is, why bother putting these features in if they are not 1 to 1, no lag and 99% responsive. Truly the most/only times I have been frustrated playing Vita is when the abilities of the handheld do not work as they should.
But can this be the reason why it is not selling?
I love my Vita, ever since I have got it I have barely touched my 3DS. I find it hard to get attached to a console game too, just the ease of take it out and play anywhere is awesome. The handheld looks great, graphics are amazing for what it is and I have had friends see the Vita running in my hands and want to buy one. That really is it though, when people see this piece of tech running in its beautiful environment that is in your hands people love it, my Dad even wants to buy one! I think Nintendo did a smart thing, they pushed their handheld without restraint. In my city there were booths to try the console out in stores, they have kiosks in malls to try and see the 3DS in action. But where is Vita?
In Australia most major retail outlets have refused to stock the Vita because of its price, they just do not believe it will sell at that price point and the Japan numbers are not helping them in any way of proving otherwise. Sony needs to right the ship, they need to fix the problem in Japan and fast, because it is causing problems in other regions like Australia. If people saw the Vita running, saw the blue boxes in stores they would be interested, but the casual market does not even know about it. The stores that do stock Vita have the tiniest of sections, so tiny you would not even notice it unless you were looking for it. Few people I know only knew it as the next PSP until I showed them just how big of a leap in tech and abilities it has made and they were shocked, Sony is proving once again that when they market something…Nobody knows what they are doing.
The main thing I was worried about with the Vita was the battery life, but that has never been an issue, it lasts way longer then I need and that is great. It allows me to browse the web on the go, check Facebook if I would like, store my own music and play it in the background of games if I wish, the NEAR application needs work but it still in my opinion miles above Nintendos Street Pass. These are ALL positive things, every single one and there is so much more, I am in love with this handheld and I want it supported, I want others to experience it and see for themselves just how good it really is. It does not deserve to be the forgotten console.
How is the future? Bleak at the moment, there are great games on the way in Resistance: Burning Skies, Sound Shapes Little Big Planet, Mortal Kombat, Killzone, Call of Duty, Bioshock and more. But if the console does not sell how will it continue to get developers on board?
Sony you need to utilize PSN, you should be helping developers make Vita ports of your PSN games, think of how big a Vita Journey game would have been? That experience is short, sweet and would have looked gorgeous on the handheld. Outland, Limbo, Trials Evolution with some sort of use of the tilt and touch features. All of these would give the Vita a larger range of games, hell cheaper games then $80 Australian for Fifa! I want bite sized games to tide my Vita craving but Mutant Blobs was the only PSN game I was interested in, this needs fixing.
After all this, did the console live up to my hype? Yes. Simply yes. This piece of tech sitting next to me as I type allows me to game amazing games on the go, allows me to the ease of checking trophies and game at the same time, Facebook and internet abilities and make me enjoy my gaming lifestyle even more than ever. I have high hopes that Sony can turn this around and I really hope they do.
Anyone thinking of purchasing a Vita, I would definitely say go ahead. If the price is too steep at the moment, then hold out for the inevitable price drop, but if you were as hyped as I was for the Vita, I think your craving will be more than satisfied. Hopefully many more get the satisfaction from this handheld in the coming months.