News Article

Talking Point: Why Push PlayStation Vita to 2012?

Posted by Patrick Elliot

Part one: Wii are watching U

The sound of thousands of shattered Christmas wishes echoed across the globe last week, as Sony revealed that PS Vita won't reach North America and Europe until 2012. The company maintained all along that the system would launch in the "global market" by the end of 2011, technically exonerating as PS Vita will release in Japan by years-end. But such cleverly phrased PR still kept the optimistic among us from hoping that a Vita might tumble down our chimney this holiday.

But now those hopes are dashed, and with the recent 3DS price drop, there is a good chance that many of those chimneys will chime with the sound of a Nintendo 3DS whirling its way down to the living room floor instead. Which begs the question: why are you throwing handhelds down your chimney? Just put them under the tree. But more importantly, why did Sony push back the PS Vita release, and what does it stand to gain?

Well, one thing Sony is definitely looking towards is the impending release of Nintendo Wii U. The current consoles have been warring for some five years now, and clearly Nintendo carved out a huge amount of sales by producing an accessible console that promised an entirely new way to experience video games. The Wii put Nintendo back on top, after a less than stellar performance by the GameCube, positioning them to pour tons of Wii profits into research and development for their next console, the Wii U.

If the main schtick of the original Wii was motion controls, the schtick for the Wii U is undoubtedly the tablet-like controller. The system does boast some serious graphical capabilities, but that part seems a bit of catch-up rather than innovation. The system's real ingenuity lies in the unique functionality Nintendo promises its fancy new controller will deliver. But just how unique is it?

Next Generation. Portable.

The Wii U controller certainly offers up some interesting mechanics, but as more and more details trickle out about the PS Vita, it seems more and more likely that the handheld, when paired with a PS3, will be able to do many of the things promised by the Wii U, and even some things the Wii U is incapable of doing. By pushing Vita to 2012, Sony may be targeting consumers considering the Wii U upgrade.

Take Continuation Play for example. This is Sony's term for the seamless transition between PS Vita and PS3 gameplay — it allows you to play a game on your PS3, and through the magic of cloud-saving, continue the game where you left off on your PS Vita. The Wii U allows users to do something similar, but in a very different way: instead of taking to the clouds, the Wii U can stream a game wirelessly to the controller's screen, allowing you to enjoy your game away from the TV. But you have to keep the Wii U running to do so, and you can't travel too far away from the console. PS Vita on the other hand lets you hop on a bus to Tijuana if you'd like, free to continue your game, no PS3 needed.

Even for games that forgo Continuation Play, Sony says Vita is already running Remote Play, a feature used by the original PSP to stream content from a running PS3 over the Internet, allowing the connected handheld to view and control the content. Remote Play has been featured in PixelJunk Shooter, Eden and Monsters, but the vast valley of power between the PS3 and PSP hampered the feature's success. With the powerful PS Vita, which can already run full-blown games like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Lost Planet 2, Remote Play should work much more smoothly.

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User Comments (20)

blurays

#3

blurays said:

During the E3 Nintendo conference they seemed to focus more on the
Wii U ability to implement game play ideas using both the Wii system and controller.
The Wii U controller will most likely come with the Wii U system while if
I want comparable functionality I need to buy 2 separate systems for
upwards of $550+ from Sony.

Magi

#4

Magi said:

The Vita is definately in my future. The Wii U? Not so much. I may see myself purchasing a PS3 in the future as well if this Vita integration is as awesome as I've seen it described.

On the other hand, what if Nintendo escalates the capabilities of their tablet-controller and allow you to take the game with you on the road? There's quite a bit of time left for Nintendo to continue to develop new functionality for the Wii U and I wouldn't rule anything out yet.

Strider_Hiryu

#5

Strider_Hiryu said:

@ nlifegamer: don't forget that Vita primarily caters to gamers who already own a PS3. By the time the new handheld releases, there will be a vast potential userbase, while the WiiU basically starts from zero.

Nintendo's tablet controller has no independent processors or memory, thus it doesn't allow for something like Remote Play, Continuation Play or proper portable gaming. Its dependance on WiiU is clear: Satoru Iwata itself stated it is not intended as a portable device.

AbuJaffer

#6

AbuJaffer said:

It won't work. Not technically, but as a system for developers to sell their games. Other than a few third-party devs and most (if not all) first-party devs, we won't be seeing this feature in a lot of games. If a developer wants to make a game based on the feature, they would be alienating PS3/Vita gamers that only own one console/handheld (most people with a PS3 will fall under this category). If they only add it (as an extra feature) so both PS3 and PS3+Vita gamers can play, it'll feel tacked on, unnecessary, and gimmicky.

Developers for the Wii U, on the other hand, are 100% sure their consumer base can play their game using the streaming feature. This allows the game to take full advantage of the dual-screen capability, without alienating consumers.

Chalen

#7

Chalen said:

@AbuJaffer so it's considered a gimmick if it's one small part of the game but not if it's the basis for an entire console experience?

WaLzgiStaff

#8

WaLzgi said:

It seems to me that Nintendo and Sony are going for different demographics entirely

DrCruse

#10

DrCruse said:

Didn't they say that they pushed it back because they didn't have enough games at launch? Then is there really anything to talk about? The PS Vita never was intended to compete with the Wii U, and it still isn't intended to compete with the Wii U; it's a portable first and foremost. It would make much more sense to have it out for this Christmas to compete with the 3DS than wait a year to compete with the Wii U. And even if it WAS meant to compete with the Wii U, it would be advantageous to have it out a year early.

Squiggle55

#11

Squiggle55 said:

I still think that, more than anything, Sony is probably feeling disappointed that it won't be ready for Christmas. Now would be the time to compete I would think since everyone in the world hasn't bought a 3DS yet.

I'm very glad that the Vita/PS3 combo could have similar functionality to the Wii U experience, but AbuJaffer raises some very good points. Unless there is a gigantic user base that has both a PS3 and a Vita, I don't see developers spending too many resources on coming up with a new experience for the combination. - Like AbuJaffer said, the problem is that it absolutely can't be essential to the gameplay that the consumer owns a PS3 and a Vita, because it would be alienating too many people that don't have both, while everyone with the Wii U already has the second screen.

I will be getting a Vita, and I personally hope that there ARE a lot of games that provide a unique experience between PS3 and Vita, but I can see how releasing something that you have to have both for would be risky.

James

#12

James said:

@Strider_Hiryu Wii U is marketed to gamers who skipped out on Wii, as well as those wanting to take their Wii experience to the next level. Not sure I'd say that's starting from scratch :)

Scissors

#13

Scissors said:

The potential is there, but I doubt they will do much with the connectivity. The move is an amazing piece of tech, when I first saw the development videos of it I wanted one instantly. It's been a year and Sony has still been very tepid with its releases. The original content is disappointing things like Playstation move heroes and the ape escape games could have been amazing, but they didn't do justice to the series they came from. The other exclusives are just games that have optional move support, which is nice but I can play them with my dual shock 3 and the only shooter I really like is Uncharted. All the the 3rd party stuff is just Wii games I already played. Sony could definitely do amazing things with Vita and PS3 connectivity, but I doubt they will do much. I'm buying the Vita for the games, the possible connectivity is just a bonus.

Strider_Hiryu

#14

Strider_Hiryu said:

@ James: I get where you're coming from, James. What I wanted to say, maybe with a bad choice of words, is that most of PS Vita's customers will probably own a PS3 already, so they'll get better connectivity options than the WiiU/tablet controller combo for half the price.

That said, the WiiU certainly caters to Nintendo's existing fanbase, which is very keen on embracing the risks taken by the company. But can we say the Wiipad shares the same appeal of the Wiimote? Does it looks as comfortable and easy to use? Why does it seems to take gaming back to the couch, while the Wii invited to do the exact opposite?

In a sense, it seems like they are starting from scratch: they need to have the people understand new concepts, a new way to play. And even though I consider myself an experienced player, seeing the Wiipad and the Wiimote grouped together at E3 prompted me to think "what am I gonna do with all of this stuff, now?"

neetyneety

#17

neetyneety said:

I think that these two won't really be competing on the same turf. Wii U is aimed at those who want that new revolutionary experience that Nintendo always boasts about; similar to what they did with the DS. The tablet controller is PART of the Wii U, so they're not planning on endorsing it as a separate handheld.

PS VIta, on the other hand, is a handheld which aims to bring the whole console experience into a portable form. If you look at this way, its aimed at people WITHOUT a PS3, as, seeing from the titles being considered, most games of the Vita would end up on the PS3 as well. Which raises a question to my mind, about that Remote Play, would that mean you would have to buy TWO copies of the game? (one for Vita, another for PS3) Because if it did, then that means it would be pretty useless, both on a practical standpoint and a technical one.

First off, buying the same game twice is already absurd, especially since you have to shell out twice the money (don't they know we're poorfags?) BUT, considering that PS3 games ported to the PSV (yeah, just made that up) will essentially be the same, albeit with some nifty touch/tilt controls added, I don't think anyone want to spend their money like that, unless of course you're that desperate on playing Uncharted on the bus.

Now, about that potential "PSV being a PS3 controller"... now that's an entirely different story. If devs would utilise this, it could easily kill the Wii U. But, remember that not all people with PS3s would have Vitas and vice versa, so this can't become a popular basis for creating games, which is what the Wii U is betting on. But (yeah, I love using buts) if, by some miraculous reason, everyone ended up with a PS3 AND a Vita, then...yeah.

Which makes me remember how Nintendo announced that the 3DS could be used as a Wii U controller..now that would be interesting to see.

Rambo-Hamster

#18

Rambo-Hamster said:

@neetyneety, I doubt Sony is so stupid as to make us pay $60 for the PS3 version and then $40 for the Vita. I think their PSN Pass system was actually their way of testing the concept of one-time use codes in a game. And it seems to work perfectly fine for them. So I think they'll include a Vita code in the PS3 copy, and vice-versa, that allows you to get the game from PSN.

As for the Wii U being a "revolutionary" experience, it's really not. It's just taking remote play and applying it in a universal sense, to all its games. surprisingly, after seeing what complacency did to the 3DS, Nintendo is shockingly still insanely complacent. I mean, they made this thing look JUST like a Wii, and it's called a Wii U. How will they convince their target audience, those not in the know of games, that it's not just a new version of the Wii? Sony knows how to differentiate a product, even if the name is similar. Look at the designs for the PS1, PS2, and PS3. They're radically different. It's easy to see that these are different consoles. The Wii U looks like someone took sandpaper to a Wii, rounded its edges, and laid it on its side. And, all your Wii stuff works on it. No way any random parent who knows nothing about games will be able to say "Oh, that's clearly a whole new console and not just a remodeling". It also suffers from getting games about a year after the PS3 and 360 do (i.e. Arkham City), and not having much exclusive 3rd party content, if any, lined up.

The 3DS and Wii U are double trip-ups for a company that is not used to making mistakes. Case in point, it's having a hard time fixing its 3DS problem (one of which is also convincing consumers that it's not just a newer model of the something old). Like the article says, the Vita-PS3 combo does everything the Wii does, plus a few extras, like the Vita having its own games, having transfarring capabilities for non-streaming gameplay, and the Vita being a social network hub on the go (provided you have a 3G Vita).

Personally, I feel that if Sony can aggressively market the Vita-PS3 combo before Nintendo starts its Wii U marketing campaign, it could take away the Wii U's one crowning achievement and make the Wii U dead on arrival.

michiganurse

#19

michiganurse said:

I think that sony is very wise for such a move. Nintendo Wii U could lose much of it's thunder while sony could stand to gain the loyalty who the former wii gamers making the exodus from nintendo. Essentially, sony would be offering a better experience at an equal or lesser price point depending on if you already own the ps3. I personally hope that sony kicks nintendo's teeth in. I do have to admit though, I am thinking about getting the 3ds but then again maybe I'm just on something. PS Vita will throunce the 3DS I'm sure and maybe the WII U as well.

michiganurse

#20

michiganurse said:

I think that sony is very wise for such a move. Nintendo Wii U could lose much of it's thunder while sony could stand to gain the loyalty who the former wii gamers making the exodus from nintendo. Essentially, sony would be offering a better experience at an equal or lesser price point depending on if you already own the ps3. I personally hope that sony kicks nintendo's teeth in. I do have to admit though, I am thinking about getting the 3ds but then again maybe I'm just on something. PS Vita will throunce the 3DS I'm sure and maybe the WII U as well.

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