#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.
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.
Written by: Darrin
- Contributing Editor