PS Vita – A Slowly Sinking Ship?
Ah, the Vita. Sony really knocked this one out of the park as far as the hardware is concerned. The touch screen is incredibly responsive, the buttons have a nice click to them, and the sticks are surprisingly capable. Not to mention the gorgeous colors that really pop out of its OLED screen. Yes, its quite a nice piece of tech, too bad there isn’t anything to do with it.
Sony has a history of shaky launches and strange marketing, but the Vita is really beginning to baffle myself and many others. At first the software drought that’s plaguing the handheld felt like the usual post-launch lull, but here we are going on six months later and things are hardly looking any better.
Vita owners looked on anxiously at this year’s E3 as Sony continued ignoring the system. PS3 owners with Playstation Plus were, quite literally, given a large selection of some great titles to play for free, while Vita owners received a single picture of a Call of Duty logo. At that point it was getting ridiculous: not only are there very few titles coming out, but there are even less on the horizon. If sparse downloadable games, aging launch titles, and PS2 remakes are your thing then you’re in luck, but if you’re like most gamers then it just isn’t worth the $250+ investment. Sony did say they were working on PSOne Classics for the system, but it’s late July and not a single one has been released for the Vita.
So what’s going on here?
If I didn’t know better, then I would say Sony wants the Vita to fail. They haven’t completely abandoned it like they did with the PSP Go because it’s still receiving some attention, albeit the most minimal amount. It’s hard to imagine that a company as big and far-reaching as Sony wouldn’t have someone in a position of power that can make some changes, but the Vita still feels like a system suffering from a weak launch. It’s all speculation, but I think Sony quite simply doesn’t understand that they need better first party support.
For all their faults, Nintendo can usually save a system as long as the hardware itself is sound. The Big N turned the 3DS around almost overnight by releasing a Mario game, dropping the price, and giving their early adopters some love with a boatload of old games. At this point in the game, Sony needs to turn things around for the Vita in the same vein. Now, they probably can’t afford to take the hit from dropping the price, but If Sony pumped out a few first party PSOne titles for free along with some of the better PSP games they could generate a lot of buzz. Granted, that’s probably not enough to magically fix everything, but it would put the Vita back in the news as well as give gamers something to do with the system while we wait for the next big thing.
The Vita isn’t cheap, and neither are the games or accessories.
The system itself is high priced, a memory card of any real worth is between thirty and fifty dollars, and the screen demands a case and screen protector. These all add up to a minimum of about $300 before games. Even before the price drop, you could grab a 3DS, a game, and a cheap case for the same price. Price drops probably aren’t viable for the system at this point, but Sony needs to drop the MSRP on the memory cards. This isn’t new technology we’re talking about, it’s a company reshaping MicroSD cards and forcing them upon their most loyal consumers.
I don’t imagine that Sony would call the Vita dead in the water until they absolutely had to, but I could easily see them letting it toil in obscurity and high prices to the point that it can’t even compete with the 3DS or smartphones. If the Vita is going to remain as expensive as it is, then Sony needs to sweeten the pot. Include a decent memory card, a case, and give your Playstation Plus members some free games. Let us know that you still care, Sony, and we’ll stick with you, but ignoring your customers won’t last for much longer. It’s a gorgeous system, and I’m dying for something to do on it.