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Vita: How is the Game Selection? |

As a huge PlayStation fan, the Vita has really disappointed in its first seven months or so in the US market. There is a lot of content, and much of it is good in some way, and a few niches are really well covered (Disgaea, Lumines, and some 2D fighters all look awesome), but I think most gamers are better served for their gaming tastes on a home console or a tablet or a PC.

First, I’m disappointed that the Vita doesn’t have near CPU/GPU parity with the aging HD twins, the PS3 and 360. The most vocal critics were demanding lower prices and less emphasis on hardware power. Sony gave the critics exactly that with the Vita and it was a mistake. Most gamers don’t want to play a typical action game with 50% of the graphics tech that they are used to with PS3/360. Uncharted Golden Abyss and Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed III are technical milestones for a handheld, but typical players simply prefer the full experience on a home system.

The counter point is that when gamers really can get a parity experience on a portable, they will transition to portables. When laptops finally got nearly as good as desktop computers, the masses switched over, and the same thing is inevitable in games. A good example of what I mean by general parity is the single player campaign of Rayman Origins. To the typical player, the single player game is basically identical on the Vita as on the PS3/360. When players can get basically the same experience on portable devices, they will abandon the home consoles.

Right now, the sweet spot for Vita is games that don’t need the full tech of the home consoles, are more sophisticated than the content currently on tablets (there are a few substantial games on tablets and it is growing, but for the moment it is in it’s infancy), or possibly take advantage of the unique hybrid stick/button/touch control scheme.

The first of the big great games, in my opnion, to hit the Vita is really LittleBigPlanet. It seems like this is the start of the Vita’s hot streak of great games. There are several more in the near term pipeline such as Persona 4, New King’s Story, Tearaway, and potentially stuff like Soul Sacrifice, Zero Escape, and DJ Max Technica.

  • Jay

    I wouldn’t switch over to a handheld if there was a general parity between that and home consoles because I much prefer to play on a big screen. I think the only reason laptops are so popular, besides the fact that they are portable and on par with desktops, is because they have 14-19+ inch screens as well and can even output the picture to a TV or larger monitor. They aren’t handhelds, and tablets also have a larger screen than a handheld console ever would.

    Of course, if a handheld console had the capability to output audio and video to an external source like an HDTV or home audio system (including 1080P+ and support for 7.1HD audio as well, or future audio and video formats), then it could be another story, as then, you could market it as both a handheld and home console, but I think we’re a ways off before we see that. Especially one that would deliver graphics and performance on par with what would be considered ‘next generation’ at that time.

  • I won’t vote because I don’t own a Vita, but I’m actually really interested in hearing what other people have to say. Personally I feel like handhelds (of all brands) are mostly financed by major titles (like LBP, Golden Abyss, Pokemon, Monster Hunter and the likes) and differently from consoles they lack in the “B grade” games department.

    This basically means that handhelds are less attractive “in between” major releases as opposed to consoles, which will always have a good and diverse portfolio of “B grade” titles during that time.

  • @Jay, very few tablet users ever hook up to an external display and speakers. I think you are a minority that insists on a big screen display. Many people use tablets as at-home computer replacements for leisure+email+reading and don’t care about big display support. Ideally, I’d wager with you that video game use will take a mass market shift towards portable devices that aren’t hooked up to a traditional living room setup.

    @pedro, interesting theory that the portable consoles are driven by the mega-hits. Pokemon and Monster Hunter were mega hits, but I don’t think Uncharted: GA is close. It seems the Vita has a ton of B-level games, just no big blockbusters. I really think the Vita software story is about to turn around for the better and we are going to see lots of really creative diverse games. The tablet games market is also growing super fast too.

  • Jay

    Tablets aren’t dedicated gaming machines, either. I also doubt that people that want to play on a big screen are in the minority as well, especially for high end gaming enthusiasts. The portable market adopters are mostly those of the casual class of gamers, hence why they have a large install base, but that doesn’t mean AAA games, namely non-exclusives, would sell more on those platforms despite the install base. Instead, smaller, simpler games like Angry Birds are the biggest draws.

  • @Jay, I suspect that some adult gamers have already setup a nice gaming area in their home, they are happy with that, and are hostile to the idea of being pressured to change and are vocal about that. Other gamers haven’t really put much thought into this, they are mentally used to portable consoles sucking for many genres, but when the games they want to play are all conveniently in portable form with genuine quality parity, they will just switch over. I could be wrong, but I’d take that wager 🙂

  • Eddie

    I disagree the Vita is underpowered by any means. I do think there are only a few niche gems right now though and that it suffers from lack of games overall. Can’t wait for Ragnarok Odyssey myself though.

  • @Eddie, the PS3 runs Wipeout at 60FPS at near 1080p: supposedly it’s dynamic resolution and not always 1080p. The Vita’s screen is ~50% of the pixels at 720p and it can only do 30FPS? Why did Vita get the dumbed down 3DS version of Lego Batman 2 instead of the full PS3/360 version? Why did reports say that the MGS HD collection runs significantly worse on the Vita than the PS3/360? Games like Motorstorm RC look noticeably better on the PS3, although it’s still generally the same game experience. Other devs have said the Vita isn’t up to snuff for PS3/360 projects. For a 2012 hardware, I’d really expect it to be better than the 2006 PS3, not worse, even for a portable. The chat, trophy, store functionality, and app switching OS type functionality is absolutely better on the Vita relative to PS3, but actual in-game tech is worse.

  • Im playing ICO from work right now on my Vita…this is the kind of thing that has got me more excited for the future of the Vita!