Highbrow High Score

The Art of Gaming Intellectually

Why Sony will cripple the PSVita (and why I hope I’m wrong)

with 5 comments

Although the Vita is missing the holiday gifting madness, we’re seeing more and more ads and videos about Sony’s next generation of handhelds. The Vita is loaded with features as well as gorgeous aesthetics – taking pages from smartphone design (sleek and interactive touch surfaces) and functionality (use of apps and connectivity) as well as finally integrating the second control stick to the handheld market. The announced line-up looks stellar with Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet and – my personal most anticipated game – Touch My Katamari. With state-of-the-art touch controls, the Vita is going out on a limb to deliver more options for gameplay and more features for developers to experiment with. And it looks just plain sexy.

Handheld high candy with real capabilities

I want my fingerprints all over that!

But, the cynic in me is reminded of another Sony handheld that was supposed to change the nature of on-the-go gaming – and the sad truth that followed. The original PSP boasted a bigger screen, beefier graphics, and a more “adult” experience than the Nintendo DS could offer. The system had potential to usurp Nintendo’s handheld throne with the grown-up gamer… but it fell short of just about every expectation or promise Sony made. I’ll note that although the system sold well, as someone who has owned and played the original, actually using it is frustrating on almost every level.

Here’s a brief list of why the Vita will probably* be every bit as unplayable as the PSP:

1. Proprietary media

With the PSP, Sony introduced both the UMD and their Memory Stick Pro. Now it seems the Vita will fall prey to the same overpriced proprietary forms of memory and media.

2. Sub-par online experience

But... but!

The free online gameplay network that Sony introduced is nowhere near as smooth an experience as Xbox Live and seems to be constantly updated to prevent errors like the hacking snafu earlier this year - which leads to...

3. Constant firmware updates

No one likes waiting on updates, but Sony must think we do because these are more frequent than any other comparable console or handheld.

4. Price

An acronym that could apply to a lot of the Playstation family

Even with a Wi-Fi only model of the Vita, buyers will be spending upwards of $250 on the unit itself. Add a few $50 to $70 dollar games and a memory card and the deal seems a little steep.

The PS3 clearly illustrates that Sony is dedicated to giving gamers a modern video game experience and the Vita seems to be a continuation of that; based on hardware alone, these consoles are superior to other consoles on the market. On the other hand, there is a reason the sales of the PS3 and the PSP lagged behind those consoles – trailing the Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS by one-third and half their stateside sales figures respectively. It’s a shame because I think the Vita will be a great handheld as far as the quality of game and functionality it will provide, but Sony’s history with “flash in the pan” gaming may kill the handheld shortly after it’s launch.


Written by highbrowhighscore

December 16, 2011 at 3:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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5 Responses

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  1. […] Why Sony will cripple the PSVita (and why I hope I’m wrong) (highbrowhighscore.wordpress.com) […]

  2. I’m surprised you even want one of these things. I’m so over Sony handhelds.

    I bought and hacked a PSP1000 and it was great as a handheld platform for emulators and roms that had required my PC to run. But every time I wanted to play a UMD I had to get an update which meant updating CFW and reinstalling roms. After a few runs through that, I just stopped buying games for PSP. If there was something I was really interested in I’d just get the iso because it was more player friendly than actually going through Sony. To be clear, I have no issue paying for the UMD (I generally prefer it) or that Sony wants to use their own media format to distribute games. My issue has always been that Sony gives us an open ended platform, but then fights tooth and nail to keep consumers from using it as an open platform.

    They will do everything you’ve mentioned and another Sony handheld will bomb. Sony may be after the more “mature” gamer, but I’m a bit too old to be taken in this time.


    December 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm

  3. I think what’s going to hurt the sales of the Vita aside from the valid points you mentioned are mobile phone and tablet gaming. I’ve seen and read a few articles where smart phone gaming is overtaking the handheld market to the point that it’s putting pressure on Nintendo. I’ve even seen people that would never have picked up a controller in their life playing Bejeweled and Angry Birds on their iPhones and iPads. Sony has not only got to compete with Nintendo who has had a firm grip on the top of the handheld market, but also with phone companies that have established smart phone apps and games. There seems to be a new playing field, and Sony needs to deliver a solid and worthwhile experience if they don’t intend to become the next Sega.


    December 22, 2011 at 5:23 am

    • I would weep sweet tears of irony with my Dreamcast if Sony became the next Sega…


      December 22, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      • I liked Sega. Gamegear was boss compared to the Gameboy from a technical standpoint. 16bit color not that 8bit grey/green. Nomad? Holy crapsticks, Gamegear games and Genesis games all on a handheld? Who gives a fuck if it’s battery life is only about an hour. If you had an outlet nearby you were set. Sega’s real downfall wasn’t hardware or marketing. They didn’t have Pokemon. Games sell consoles. Dreamcast is a perfect example.


        December 24, 2011 at 3:13 am

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