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Reaction: Vita's Lacklustre E3 Showing Was a Huge Mistake

Posted by Sammy Barker

Teething troubles

If E3 was vital for Vita, then someone forgot to send Sony the memo. Raining over the platform holder’s otherwise solid pre-show press conference was a staggering lack of handheld content, prompting Shuhei Yoshida — the head of Sony’s Worldwide Studios — to admit that Vita was under-represented and that it was a mistake.

Going into the show, we felt that Sony could win E3 and reverse the negative press surrounding its latest console. Flagging sales and a somewhat barren post-release schedule have led to critics pouring salt over the system’s emerging wounds. But a strong commitment to new and original content could have, if only temporarily, dampened that cynicism. Instead, Sony only accentuated the issue.

Outside of the token gesture that PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is indeed taking the fight outdoors, Sony opted to showcase just two other Vita games during its E3 press conference. Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation was the pick of these, and underlined Ubisoft’s commitment to the platform. This separate side-story – which is set to release day-and-date with Assassin’s Creed III on PS3 – appears to be the blockbuster third-party title that early-adopters have been craving, and while the excitement of the announcement was crippled by the Game Informer leak earlier in the weekend, it was the closest Sony came to proving Vita is a viable platform.

At the time, Liberation’s official announcement felt like the start of a Vita onslaught. But hindsight is a deadly thing, and Sony serviced that new-found enthusiasm with just one other game. Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified should have been the biggest title on Sony’s stage, but instead it was relegated to an updated logo and a vague promise of a fall release. Considering we’ve known about the title since the original "NGP’s" announcement back in 2011, the lack of any gameplay really flagged concerns about the game’s overall quality. Like Ken Levine’s BioShock, Activision’s debut Vita title looks to be little more than vapourware until the publisher proves otherwise.

And that was it. While Sony rolled out one fascinating PlayStation 3 demonstration after another, Vita lurked in the corner of the room like an attention starved elephant. Sony took measures to respond to the emerging criticism quickly – Jeff Rubenstein, PlayStation’s social media manager, immediately pointed out that there are 25 Vita demos available at the Sony booth. Jack Tretton then added in an interview with Geoff Keighley that there are more than 60 games scheduled to release on Vita before the end of the year. That, according to the SCEA executive, will bring the platform’s tally up to 100 titles – an unprecedented number for a new piece of hardware.

But it felt like damage limitation. The reality is that Sony had the opportunity to convince players that Vita is still relevant after months of reports to the contrary, but it failed. As we mentioned earlier, Shuhei Yoshida has since accepted in multiple press interviews that the company’s decision to overlook Vita was a mistake, but we’re not sure how it managed to make such an enormous error.

The most frustrating thing is, upon digging a little deeper, it’s not like the content isn’t there. LittleBigPlanet may already be announced, but its recent public beta is prompting an enormous amount of goodwill from participating players. The buzz around the title is unparalleled, with many making the conclusion that the franchise feels at home on Sony’s new handheld. A short demo of the game’s creation tools or perhaps even a trailer could have bolstered the Vita’s presence at the show, but the platformer was nowhere to be seen.

Meanwhile, Sony glossed over the introduction of a new LittleBigPlanet 2 DLC pack which will allow you to use the Vita as an additional controller for the PlayStation 3. The opportunity to steal Wii U’s thunder was begging to be exploited, but despite some hands-on previews explaining that the new DLC pack is one of the best uses of Vita’s technology yet, Sony once again failed to take advantage of the announcement.

When you really look back over the past couple of weeks it's clear that Jack Tretton has a point, there is plenty in the pipeline for the new platform – but none of it was mentioned during the show. Even a montage of all the upcoming content would have helped. Instead, Sony opted to briefly acknowledge two third-party games and move on. There was no promise of future first-party commitments, and outside of the brief confirmation of PSone Classics, there was not even the acknowledgement of an upcoming firmware update. It felt, at times, like the Vita didn’t even exist.

And it needed to exist — to change the perception of the sceptics if nothing else. Ultimately, Sony’s misjudged press conference not only failed to sell the platform to new consumers, it also forced early adopters to reconsider their purchase. It’s still too early to write Vita off, but the platform – which is brimming with bags of untapped potential – now faces a greater struggle than ever before. Let’s just hope Sony has a plan.

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User Comments (23)

BudrSbastig

#1

BudrSbastig said:

Anyone who owns a vita will agree that it is a fantastic bit of kit, I honestly think its the best handheld ever. E3 should have been the launch pad to get it out there to the masses. If you don't read gaming sites or media, chances are you wont know what vita is, yet alone know what it can do.
Sony need to show game footage and features in the ads, not just some fat bloke running up a beech. I missed the sony E3 show, and when I checked web sites the lack of vita news had me thinking there conference had not been held!! Nintendos show was bad, but at least they have got a 3ds special.......come on sony pull your finger out and get vita out there!!

JavierYHL

#2

JavierYHL said:

well if they themselves dun support 3rd parties will be flying off to 3ds like capcom...use money to lure them b?

CanisWolfred

#3

CanisWolfred said:

Yeah, you make some good points here. It was a shocking mistake to underrepresent the Vita this year, and honestly, I'm starting to worry. I'd like to see the Vita be successful, it's the best handheld I've ever seen, but it just doesn't seem like it's gonna get the support it deserves.

JavierYHL

#4

JavierYHL said:

i am more worried playing my fav 3rd parties games on 3ds...mh and re... omg capcom i hate u,u should have release those on the more powerful vita...u make sony and my life so much more misery...

Wesker

#5

Wesker said:

I disagree. Sony's showing was very solid. You're nitpicking.

Go and watch Microsoft's or Nintendo's conference, then tell me Sony's was bad. It ain't happening bro.

Squiggle55

#6

Squiggle55 said:

I'm still not worried, but I am very disappointed. I love my Vita, and I know games will come, and apparently 60 before the year is over. But I am very disappointed at the conference and their decision to gloss over Vita (seriously??!!) because public perception is so huge and it will affect the games that are made for me to enjoy.

get2sammybAdmin

#7

get2sammyb said:

@Wesker Oh, I don't think the press conference was bad at all. In fact, I think it was a very good press conference. The PS3 games looked outstanding (and were mostly new IPs), and I even thought Wonderbook looked very cool.

I just think they made a mistake not spending more time on Vita. I understand they wanted a snappier conference, but not even having a montage was a huge mistake.

Like @Squiggle55 says, public perception is huge, and this was an opportunity to make a statement.

I don't think the Vita is doomed by any means — I'm still really enjoying mine and play it most days. But brushing the console aside during the press conference was, as the article states, a huge mistake.

ATDI

#9

ATDI said:

The Vita looks pretty awesome, but I don't see the vita vs. 3ds outcome being much different from the psp vs. ds outcome. The Vita will do just fine, though.

Wesker

#11

Wesker said:

@get2sammyb "Brushing aside"

How can you not be excited by Assassins Creed and Call of Duty? They are probably the 2 biggest franchises out there at the moment. And they're not ports, but unique games.

The conference was cool, it was snappy and it had the most interesting games. The Last of Us, Assassins Creed and Beyond demos were absolutely amazing! Ninty and M$ had none of that.

get2sammybAdmin

#12

get2sammyb said:

@Wesker I agree with Assassin's Creed. Unfortunately, Call of Duty is nothing more than a logo. If the game is really due out this fall, shouldn't we at the very least be getting a trailer by now?

I'm concerned about it.

Squiggle55

#13

Squiggle55 said:

Seriously, if there are 60 upcoming Vita games this year, there had to be something exciting they could have announced in a montage of Vita games. Anything! Like, hey, Fat Princess is coming. Or a new Parappa. There has to be SOMETHING surprising/exciting happening. Right?

Paranoimia

#14

Paranoimia said:

I'm not worried about Vita. Yes, Sony should have given it a bit more coverage, and they've acknowledged that today - but I think people are over-reacting.

Is it really in major need of masses of new games at this moment in time? I don't think so. It's been out just over 3 months, it had a great launch line-up, and there are over 40 games available. Have people really played all of those? I doubt it. Then there are the PSP titles and minis, which I worked out a few months ago was something like 400+ games that you can play on a Vita, with PS1 games still to come.

I bought 2 'major' titles and 5 PSN titles at launch, and they are still keeping me occupied perfectly well. I haven't even bought Unit 13 yet. I personally am not interested in Call of Duty or Assassins Creed on the system, and I didn't like the Gravity Rush demo... but I'm still not worried.

ShogunRokAdmin

#15

ShogunRok said:

I'm calling it now - CoD for Vita is going to be nothing more than a dumbed down, very, very linear shooter with 4 v 4 multiplayer. I can't see it being the big blockbuster people are expecting. Especially when it releases next to BO2 on the major home consoles. The fact it only got a logo at Sony's presser just about confirms this for me.

Slapshot

#16

Slapshot said:

I think it was a mistake, but not a huge one. I think the PS3 needed the extra push that it got at E3. They should have cut the Wonderbook presentation in half and the entire waste of time that was the Call of Duty announcement, and allotted this time for those 25 Vita games on the showroom floor.

Thing is, E3 is about the CEO's and their companies, and what's going to make them the most money the fastest, and giving those two games what they got was to surge their sales. Vita is going to sell regardless, and Sony knows it. All this "Vita is going to die" nonsense is little more whiners that are going to complain about something at all times, and quick-hit writers that call themselves journalist.

PSP was literally dead, and all it took was a new God of War title to bring it back from the depths of fanboy hell. If Vita was being sold at a loss, there would be a problem, but it isn't.

Just wait, Wii U will be doomed at launch for the next five months, which we clearly know it'll sell very well. It's the next one on the list to release and Vita will just keep on keeping on.

shinobi88

#17

shinobi88 said:

For anyone who wants to know: I was holding out until the end of e3 to decide between getting a 3DS or Vita, and the result is...VITA WON. A few factors went in, namely not a SINGLE 1st person shooter was announced for 3DS while Vita is getting one of the best possible franchises in Call of Duty. There's always the chance that CoD is a flop, but I'd still have Killzone, Bioshock, and Oddworld Stranger's Wrath on the horizon as potential blockbuster FPS. No 3DS redesign with a bigger screen also hurt them. Size DOES matter. Also, PS All-Stars Battle Royale is an awesome title, and Super Smash Bros is still a couple years off for 3DS. Lastly, I finally understand the power difference between the two in terms of power. Vita can get straight ports of PS3 quality games like Battle Royale, Sonic Racing Transformed, and Pinball Arcade, while 3DS has to get watered down versions with a different engine (and in PB Arcade's case, it may never come out on 3DS because of the low powered tech). Viva La Vita!

NathanUC

#18

NathanUC said:

Sly Cooper, All Stars, Jet Grind Radio, Oddworld, Assassins Creed, CoD, Hatsune Miku, LBP, DUST514, MGS, Warriors Lair, Sound Shapes, Persona 4, SFxT, Madden, Sonic & Sega racing, and Soul Sacrifice.

As far as I can tell, people who said E3 wasn't a good showing for Vita only watched the press conference and ignored the rest of the event.

Gamer83

#19

Gamer83 said:

The incompetence at Sony shocks me sometimes. I don't get how you can have such a fantastic product but do nothing to try and sell it to people. I'm looking forward to a lot of games, Sly Cooper, Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed and I'm sure all will have some neat cross platform features but for some ridiculous reason they decide not to talk about anything. Lets just flash a picture of the CoD logo, I mean come on. I don't have as big a problem with the Wonderbook showing as some do but I agree that the time spent on it should've been cutdown and it should've been done so to show off more Vita stuff.

Gamer83

#20

Gamer83 said:

@nathanuc1988

That's the problem, many people only pay attention to the press conference and that's why more had to be shown. It was a black mark on an otherwise great showing.

get2sammybAdmin

#21

get2sammyb said:

@nathanuc1988 I think that's the problem, right? There's lots on the show floor (cool stuff, too) as I state in the article — but those people that tuned in to see what's coming up, will continue to have the wrong perception of the platform.

And when the perception is already "this thing is dead, doesn't have any games, and has no support from developers" that's not a good thing. They had the opportunity to change that.

NathanUC

#22

NathanUC said:

@get2sammyb I still feel the gamers who were likely the target market for Vita (more 'hardcore' gamers) are the ones who don't just watch the highlight reels at E3. This is why we see "interesting" things like Wonderbook and Nintendo land in the press conference. The people who are likely to watch those are more than likely the people who don't live and breath games.
Would have have helped Vita to have some type of show case? Of course, but I do not feel it was a "a Huge Mistake". The vibe I get from individuals who feel "this thing is dead" are uninformed consumers who have no interest in buying the device to begin with. I could sit here and say that the Wii U is dead but I would only say that if I had no desire to purchase it to begin with. No amount of marketing will change that mindset of a consumer. I get that people will follow other opinions blindly in this generation, but it goes back to the point where if someone has their mind set that a device is 'dead', they will continue that opinion regardless of the success. As my degree in business marketing taught me, these types of consumers are resource 'sucks'. No matter how much time/effort you pour into them, the gain is minimal at best.

I might be coming off as a fanboy, but I feel all three presentations were excellent for what they were. Each company knew their target audience for their press conference and addressed those needs while leaving the show floor for the rest of us.

CorbsAdmin

#23

Corbs said:

I agree totally. They had some amazing games on the show floor, but you wouldn't have known it from watching the press conference. Sometimes Sony makes me scratch my head. But great games are coming. It's just many don't know they're coming. LOL :D

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