Sony’s latest handheld, the Playstation Vita, arrived to great fanfare. It had what has been described as “The greatest launch line up in the history of video games”. It arrived with more than 25 games ready to go on the system, with key titles such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Super Stardust Delta, Lumines: Supernova and Rayman Origins. It has a beautiful 5 inch OLED screen, the first handheld to ever support built in dual analogue support and myriad options for interface and interaction for developers to play around with. Sounds brilliant right? So why does no one own one? It’s sales figures are terrible! What can Sony do to drum up hype about this drowning system? Here’s our thoughts on the matter:
1) Games. Plain and simple, it needs more games!
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the Vita is a games console. Now you might think that means it has the ability to play videos, apps and music with a fancy interfac- Oh wait! That’s an iPad. This is a dedicated video game hand held console, and it’s most obvious, glaring error is there are not enough games out there to entice people to play.
Sony has the perfect (and perhaps last) opportunity to save the Vita at this years Gamescom and Tokyo Game Show. If they blow it out of the water and announce a ton of games for the Vita that are interesting enough to get people excited, they will made a huge step in fixing it’s image. Everywhere I look, I see people wanting the Vita to succeed, they want to play games on this fantastic hardware. What they do not want to do is jump onto a sinking ship. There need to be lifeboats on the horizon, and for the Vita those lifeboats are solid, fun games. P.S. If they get a Monster Hunter game on their system to show at TGS, they have saved the Vita in Japan in one single movement.
2) Price Drop – system and memory cards
It’s just too damn expensive. The cost is understandable, it’s specs blow the 3DS’s out of the water but to push some units, they seriously need to bite the bullet and drop the price. Sony aren’t having the greatest time at the moment in terms of finance, but to take this hit could prove very profitable down the line.
It’s not just the system though, to use it effectively (some games wont even run without them) you really need a memory card. A fairly big one at that, if you want to download your games onto it as products such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss are over 1GB in size. Sony decided to use proprietary hardware though, and as such they control the price. The problem is that what they’re charging at the moment is way too high. Take the 16GB memory card (not even the largest available) – that alone will set you back $45. That’s more than the price of a game! They need to either drop the core price of the system, or make the $250 version a bundle including a memory card and game.
3) Differentiate your products!
This is a tricky one. One of the major selling points of the Vita is it’s interactivity with PS3. The idea of playing a game on your beautiful 50″ TV at home, then taking that synonymous experience with you on the go is a very exciting one. With the upcoming WiiU, this is Sony’s method of competition, the dual nature of the relationship between PS3 and Vita. However, that doesn’t mean that the Vita should become a port house. A lot of the games available on Vita at the moment are also available on PS3. Look at the recently released Sound Shapes, which was delayed 6 months to port it to PS3. It needs to have it’s own games to distinguish as an individual platform, and to convince people who already own a PS3 that it’s worth their money to own this as well.
It’s all well and good if they finally get some games coming to Vita, but if they are just rehashes of Playstation franchises, that’s not a big enough impetus. We’ve already seen Uncharted, Resistance and soon Little Big Planet on the Vita, and you can get all of those experiences on the PS3. They really need more games like Gravity Rush, a well made, interesting and fun game that is exclusive to Vita.
4) Encourage indie development for the platform
One way to solve the problem of lack of games is to open the system up to indie developers. Look at the wild success of the Ouya console Kickstarter. Sony have done this, on April 19 they opened the platform up to Android and PC developers. The tools are free to download, and the games will be playable by everyone, but no one seems to be doing anything with it yet. (I appreciate this may be a time thing, I know making a game doesn’t happen over night).
Maybe it’s because the Playstation Suite SDK requires you to write in C#, the language used for Xbox Live and PC games, rather than for Android apps, but as a consumer you don’t hear anything about this service. To encourage smaller teams to create games for their system, Sony should try to incentivize this platform by promising marketing to encourage teams to release their games for the Vita. The indie gaming scene is huge right now and after reports of difficulty developing for XBLA and PSN, people may be put off. Sony would be in a great position if they could repair that relationship.
5) Support it through Playstation+
Compared to the others, this may seem little more than a symbol gesture but it is important. Playstation+ is the premium service available on the Playstation Network store. The Vita has a very close relationship with this store, as all games available on the system are also available in downloadable form. For it not to be supported by the premium service then (which focuses entirely on Playstation 3, not even any PSP support) suggests it is less important than the home console.
I’m not saying that the inclusion of a free Vita game in the Instant Game Collection would immediately make all subscribers say “Hey, I own a Vita game now, guess I might as well buy the system” but it would should that Sony are series in supporting the system and the consider it on par with the PS3.
It’s pretty much make or break for Sony now in terms of whether the Vita fails as a major flop or rebounds and gets some serious momentum, similar to the way the 3DS struggled at launch but is now going strong. If they implement these ideas and really make the most of their platforms at Gamescom and Tokyo Games Show they will be in a strong position this holiday season to revitalise (I’m sorry…) the Vita.
It’s a little known secret that Kevin Butler sold his soul to the Devil for his powers as VP of Add More Awesome and it’s time to put those powers to use! If they accomplished all of this, would it be enough for you to adopt the new hardware? Are there still more things you would need to see changed before you decided to get one? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.