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Top Five Reasons To Be Optimistic About the Vita Platform |

#1: Specialized Hardware Has a Place

People buy digital cameras in addition to the cell phone cameras they already have because the quality gap justifies a separate device. In the future, even if smartphones and tablets do eventually catch up on the software front, there is always the potential for some gaming specific hardware. Today, analog sticks and face/shoulder buttons are the key differentiating piece of gaming hardware, but tomorrow it might be a head tracking device.

#2: The gap between home consoles is small

When laptops were far inferior to desktops, people stuck with desktops. When the gap got small enough, the whole market switched to laptops and never came back. The game performance difference between a PSP and a home console (PS3/360) was huge, but between a Vita, it’s not. The PSP launched in 2005, right on the eve of the 360 launch. Today, there is probably still another two years or so until the next big home console.

#3: People love portability

Portability isn’t just for a long train ride or flight. Look at how people use their laptops: they use them in coffee shops, meeting rooms, on their front porch, into their beds, etc. People want lifestyle flexibility and they want the same thing from games. People don’t want to be confined to enjoying their games in a specific missionary position in their living room.

#4: Nicer hardware and system OS than home consoles

The Vita hardware is nicer, newer, and has a more premium feel than home consoles. Additionally, the system OS is more elegant in terms of managing your games, multitasking, and chatting/messaging/party functionality. The downsides relative to home consoles are the controls are smaller, the display and resolution are smaller, and the Vita uses much more expensive Flash memory and cartridges compared to home consoles with their cheap 50GB blu-ray discs and their huge laptop hard drives.

#5: The Vita is Unique

For today, the Vita doesn’t have a close competitor. There is a lot of competition from the 3DS, iOS/Android, and home consoles, but nothing plays high-end console games in a portable form factor like the Vita.

Bottom Line

Other platforms need exclusive franchises to attract a player base. The Vita’s appeal is that you can play games from the the same pool of top-tier console titles with nearly full parity of the home systems, on a portable handheld device with the physical and system OS improvements.

I predict that once some of the hit 2012 multi-platform games get Vita releases, the system will really take off.

  • Vita better sell in the US, or else Sony might need to copy Nintendo, and issue a price cut 6 months from now.

  • I was holding out on getting the Vita because I didn’t know if it was capable of everything they said.
    Now I’m holding out because there just isn’t anything on it. Other than….Uncharted?

    Also can anyone comment on If/How well skype works on it? (it’s still on there right?)

  • wolfkin

    I had this long comment addressing each point but that was annoying even to me.

    Instead I’ll address your bottom line. I think I fundamentally disagree. I LIKE specialized games on my handheld. The reason the DS was so awesome was because of all the DS specific games I could play. Unless I’m flying an 18 hour flight I don’t really want to play a full fledged Uncharted experience on a portable system. I like shorter games smaller sessions. I played DQIV on DS but it’s those special games like Layton and Canvas Curse that I liked best. I think most people think like that. It’s maybe 1/3 of why iPhone games have all that appeal. In an attempt to try to sway people away from $1 apps I think the Vita idea of going full on hardcore isn’t what they should be doing. Why play Uncharted on your Vita when you could play it on your PS3? Oh you’re on the road? Then you’re not in an environment where you’re really going to enjoy Uncharted.

    What we’re left with, is that the only justification for Vita games is that now you can play all your PS3 games while not sitting fully upright (maybe half upright in bed). This sounds like the PSP all over again and while now the hardware is much improved (no moving parts and memory will drop eventually) I don’t expect the performance (of the handheld overall) to change more than a little bit if they don’t turn towards a more portable experience rather than trying to portableize a home experience.

    It’s actually why I’m against the two circle pads on the 3DS. it ruins every 3DS game because noone will make distinctly original games but instead will just cope out and make the same games now that we have the same control schemes.

  • I like the laptop analogy, but I gotta say, the Vita still has to compete with the “Gameboy” stigma. Ever since I was an eight year old boy, Gameboys have been associated with, well, eight year old boys. Now I’m not hatin’ — I know that there are many who frequent this site who love their PSPs and the like — but whom does one see out in the world with a portable gaming device? I neglect, of course, smart phone and tablets, but those can at least masquerade as non-recreational technologies.

  • @wolfkin: Great DS taste! Do you also own 999, Ghost Trick and Okamiden? Also, if you liked Layton, try May’s Mystery:

    It’s a Gamestop US exclusive, but I don’t think shipping to Canada is too expensive. Worth it.

    Also, track down a copy of color Cross (Toys R US exclusive). Great puzzle/picross game!
    After the Nintendo Defense Force comments, back on topic. Vita looks great! The screens are AMAZING, the graphics are ALMOST PS3 level, and the launch lineup has something for everything. Main problems? Not enough unique games. I want more releases like Escape Plan and Gravity Rush. Also, the Memory Card prices are just crazy.

    By the time I purchase a Vita (so far, Holiday 2014) I’ll have a nice library from which to choose. I’ll focus on my DS/PSP backlog for now.

  • @wolfkin,

    “Why play Uncharted on your Vita when you could play it on your PS3?” I’d flip this question. Why play Catherine or Dark Souls or Skyrim on my PS3 if those games were available on Vita (they aren’t, but the next wave of these types of games probably will be).

    I own all these different devices (laptop, PS3, smartphone, tablet, and now a Vita) so I’m going to prefer different devices for different types of games. I use my laptop for certain MMOs, web games, flash games, indie games. I prefer my PS3 for full horsepower 3D graphics, the Move controller, local multiplayer, othertimes I like the smartphone convenience, and sometimes I’ll want the Vita’s mix of flexibility and horsepower and hybrid controls.

    I hear you, that you want a distinct gaming ecosystem like the DS. What really drives that innovation on the DS is passionate developers and the large user base of paying customers. The unique I/O hardware is secondary.

    @premiersoupir, I agree completely. As a grown man, I wouldn’t want to be seen with a game device in public. Carrying a smartphone or tablet is completely acceptable, but I wouldn’t want to play games on them in public; video games is a private down time activity for me.

  • Good post, Look for the Vits review this weekend, from your truly, going to tear it apart and break it down into something that will hopefully quell the “handheld stigmas”

  • wolfkin

    @premiersoupir I somewhat disagree. There was a time yes but the DS’s huge popularity has gone a long way to making handhelds more mainstream. It’s not completely acceptable but it’s not as awkward as it was with the Gameboy/Color/Advance. When Pokemon came out I was in HS. The only one I could trade with was my neighbor’s daughters. Two little white jewish girls that were between.. if i recall 8 and 12. Needless to say I didn’t trade as often as they tried to pester me to trade.

    @EdEN the first three I’ve heard of. the last I’ll have to look into them. I have Okami in my backlog so I’ve been slow to pick up Okamiden.

    @Darrin I’ll agree unique hardware isn’t a requisite but it’s an incentive. Developers are lazy. They’ll all make game as easy as possible. The beauty of the DS compared to the console games was that you HAD to think outside the box to make really good games, and because of it’s popularity the incentive to make good games was there. They could try doing what they’d been doing and that game would only go so far. The fact of the matter is that only one circle pad should be used at a time. The right pad should only be used for us south paws who can’t circle and draw at the same time. It doesn’t matter that circle pads aren’t analog sticks it won’t stop 90% of developers from treating them as such. (See also gamecube ports) Now we’re playing console games on our handhelds and that leads to this: Now my DS arguments were sort of separate from my Vita arguments. I don’t mean to imply that the Vita needs uniqueness in hardware and/or IO in order to succeed. Maybe 3DS does.. but not the Vita.

    You picked three games that I think work with my point so for simplification of arguments sake I’ll only use Skyrim (but i argue this applies to all of them). Skyrim is an immersive game, a game to get lost in. Unlike say Sonic Rush. Both are fantastic games but a Skyrim session is hours long we all hear the same story: “I started after work and I stumbled into bed at 3AM”. Sonic Rush (and nearly all of the best DS games) aren’t like that. They’re all designed around shorter game play sessions. Playing Skyrim on your big screen gives you graphical fidelity that you can’t match simply because your screen is bigger, your sound is fuller (even if you use your fancy Beatz headphones). Playing at home is more comfortable than on the run. Sure you could play your handheld at home but the advantages are outweighed by the benefits. You’re not going to play Skyrim for 5+ hour sessions for a few reasons 1) you’re on the go most of the time and 2) you don’t get immersed in handhelds the way you do with consoles. Finally playing these full console experiences in short handheld bursts degrades the experience. As a member of the “BusyGamer” community one of our mantras are games that have frequent save points but having frequent save points is an issue of flexibility not to suggest that we as gamers want to experience these games in shorter burts. Most gamers complain about games that aren’t in HD but I have to expect that the handheld induced shortened game play sessions are equally is not more unfavorable.

    The end result here isn’t to the detriment of the gamer per se. The OCD like myself will feel compelled to play every Uncharted game to get all the story but many gamers will shun the system. I think this will have the effect of pushing out “handheld” type games in favor of “small console” type games.

    These notes are meant in a categorical sense. I used to play DragonQuestIV for hours just grinding, and I loved to hop on an play Burnout Paradise for 30-90 minutes at a time, but, categorically, these I posit are the difference between “console” games and “portable/handheld” games. As a further note the exceptionally multi-use nature of the laptop and smartphone for the most part remove them from my arguments. They have to be more or less completely restructured for that.

    This is fun. I love debating when I feel comfortable with my topic.

  • “you don’t get immersed in handhelds the way you do with consoles”

    Back in the early ’90s, lots of kids, including me, would get completely immersed with RPGs on the original GameBoy, like the Final Fantasy Legend games. And wow was that GameBoy technically horrible. 4 shades of grayscale (or greenscale), 160×144 resolution, music was bits/bops… Even the NES had 25 simultaneous colors and 256×240 resolution.

    The gap between a nice HDTV and the Vita screen is far smaller than the gap between a gameboy and a decent color TV from the ’80s or early ’90s. The Vita’s OLED even has some clarity advantages over a typical LCD/Plasma HDTV.

    Some games cater to short play periods and others cater to longer play periods. I don’t think that’s strictly a portable/home divide. Often, people want short play games on their home consoles, and long play games on portables. There are tons of examples of this.

  • It’s not that I don’t agree with you, I just don’t feel like those points make me optimistic. As you and @premiersoupir said playing a portable device in public is something I wouldn’t really do as a grown man. Like you, gaming is my down time activity and I’d choose playing my PS3 on a big TV anytime. If I’m somewhere else I very much prefer playing on my laptop (like you said), but I’ve never been a portable gamer, I don’t even play games on my iPhone so maybe I’m not the targeted demographic.

  • Eddie

    Not understanding why lacking genres on any medium is a prerequisite. So it has Uncharted as a handheld game? I’m missing why that is a problem. Its a great game….on great hardware. That doesn’t mean the Vita is limited to these game types. In fact I’d venture to say that the majority of the games on the Vita are the short and sweet classic mobile game types right now.

    And I’ve been more than immersed in several handheld games. Crisis Core, Jeanne D’Arc, several Zelda’s, etc.

    Give me a Skyrim on the vita and I’ll play it for over 200 hours easy.

  • @Eddie, are you happy with the Vita being a “short and sweet classic mobile game” platform? I’m certainly not and that’s is my main problem with it right now.

    Give me a game as engaging as Zelda or Skyrim and I’ll be interested, but until then I don’t want more minis, simple as that.

  • This whole argument, “portable gaming inst manly” argument is complete BS, I am a year shy of 30 and play games on handhelds in public, for many years I lived in a city with millions of people, and I saw plenty of handhelds every day, PSPs, Gos, 3DSs….ages range from teens to 40’s….this is a moot point……there is a deeper reason why you feel negative to prtable gaming, you expect oo much, get over it…..the Vita has changed handheld gaming for the better, which will introduce a higher level of gaming experince for all.

    What is absurd about this “argument” is….handhelds were cool when you could get pokemon on them…..but now that the handheld market has evolved….its not cool because the top of the line experience is out of the pokemon players price range, and their favorite game is unavaliable on the cutting edge handheld. Move with the times, I have been into gaming before handhelds were a part of the market, and all I can say is that you people are spoiled and expect nothing but the moon when it comes to gaming experinces!

    Get Real!!

  • I’m not trying to argue that gaming isn’t “manly”. I’m saying that many people including myself, don’t like to game in public because it runs counter to the desired image of a productive successful adult and projects more of a lazy man-child vibe.

    Hey, I don’t wear my chill out pj’s to work for the same reason.

    And I never liked Pokemon, ever. Playing a video game in public was fine when I was a kid, but that’s largely an age thing.

  • Thats just your typical steotype at work…..I have a university education, as well as a welding trade certification, If you are ashamed of what other people think of you if you game in public, then your issues are more deep rooted than just worrying about public perception. Frankly I could care less what strangers think about me, Im not the ego-centric kind, I could care less what people think about me, I do what I enjoy, and I could care less what public perception is on what I do. Grow some balls and some individuality!

  • Your “vision” of a “productive member of society” it out-moded and dated, get over it, your opinion is something I would expect of a high school student. My wife Is a nurse, spent SIX years in school, and enjoys playing the GO, AND 3DS in public, what do you have to say about that?

  • You’re tearing down a straw man argument that I didn’t make.

    I didn’t say that you can’t be a productive member of society and play video games. I did say playing video games in public doesn’t project the image of productivity at a surface level.

    If you are comfortable playing video games or wearing pajamas in public, more power to you. I definitely didn’t criticize you or suggest you weren’t productive.

    The rest of the world has more of a dress to impress mentality.