PS Vita: The Little Handheld That Could

When Sony sat down the world on January 27, 2011 and revealed to everyone the NGP (later renamed the PlayStation Vita), I thought to myself that Sony had finally done it. Here was a machine that broke down the barriers between console and handheld gaming, giving you a platform that could play console experiences on a portable device. All the cards were there to play one hell of a game and yet here we are three years later, and things haven’t really panned out the way anyone expected. And here are a few reasons why it’s all Sony’s fault.

The Entire Vita Library... I kid!

The Entire Vita Library… I kid!

1) The most important thing to any gaming device are, of course, the games. Things weren’t terrible at launch, with Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Modnation Racers, and a wide variety of launch window titles. However, things started to look bad from the get-go as the game releases dried up almost immediately following the launch window and things never really picked up in that department. Sure, we have had some great experiences since then, namely games like Gravity Rush, Persona 4 Golden, and LittleBigPlanet Vita. But Sony never really managed to secure enough third-party support and probably 75 percent of the games available for the system are console ports. Where are the system sellers that a handheld like the Nintendo 3DS has? I understand that most third-party support isn’t there because of a small consumer base, but that should be where Sony steps in and tries to help these guys out. The Vita needs more full-fledged experiences to go with all the solid indie experiences you can find on it.

vita prices

OK kids, who doesn’t want to eat? Daddy needs a memory card

2) From the very beginning of its reveal, one aspect of the Vita has always been under heavy ire from fans, and that’s the price of memory cards. I know that Sony is using proprietary memory cards to fight piracy and that’s the reason for a higher price point, but at some point the memory cards have to be reduced. People are having to take out second mortgages or sell off a kid just to gain enough storage space for their games. For example, I have a 4GB and 8GB memory card and I am constantly having to switch between the two or delete games to gain space. I would buy a bigger one, but I can’t possibly justify the $80 cost for a 32GB memory card right now or anytime in the future given how inexpensively priced “regular” memory cards are. Other accessories also share a rather ridiculous entry price point, whether it’s a charging stand or carrying case, nothing is priced good enough to help your wallet. That is even after the price drops that weren’t drastic enough, especially on the high end memory cards.

Hey look, it's a PS4 and two controllers!

Hey look, it’s a PS4 and two controllers!

3) I would say that the marketing by Sony for the Vita has been rather weak, but that would be giving Sony too much credit because there has been absolutely no marketing to speak of. Yes, there was an ad for MLB: The Show a few years back, but really that’s about it. Sony has refused to properly promote the Vita and any of it’s games, hoping instead for word of mouth to push the product and that just isn’t happening. There is no bigger culprit to the sparse effort of Sony to advertise this handheld than the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). On the biggest stage of the year for the gaming world, Sony has come up every year and ignored the Vita, aside from short-minute long clips that show quick hits of around 10 different Vita games; where are the big Vita-only game reveals during these shows? Sony is losing out on their best chance to market the Vita to the world and then complaining later that they don’t understand why sales are so low, it truly is mind boggling. Not only all that, but there are some good looking games coming over from Japan that should be receiving more marketing so that more Japanese games will start coming stateside.

All of these culminate to bring us an alarming trend when it comes to Sony and its accessories/handhelds that they release. We saw the lack of support by SCEA and its studios with the PSP, Wonderbook, PS Eye, PS Move, and now the Vita. For some unknown reason, they like to release a product, get everyone really excited for it, and then put it in timeout and forget to ever let it out. With just a little bit of effort and a proper team to promote it, the PlayStation Vita could be so much more than a PS4 peripheral.

Now, someone at Sony please wake up and remember that there are people who purchased this beautiful handheld for the games, not to play the PS4 library of titles. Also note that despite this highly negative article, the Vita is still well worth the purchase price and anyway looking for a good on-the-go experience should still look at picking one up.