Talking Point: Are Indie Games Enough to Save the PlayStation Vita?
Posted by Sammy Barker
Sony has spent the past couple of months really pushing the PlayStation Vita as a haven for cult games. In the last few days alone, we’ve seen Limbo, The Walking Dead, and Divekick added to the platform’s release schedule, while Thomas Was Alone, Lone Survivor, and the brilliantly brutal Hotline Miami are all also on their way. But with the system’s sales still reportedly struggling in western territories, is Sony’s burgeoning indie initiative enough to drag the platform out of the gutter?
All of the aforementioned titles are important to the PlayStation ecosystem, that’s for sure. With the platform holder prompting the acclaim of smaller studios from all over the globe, the PlayStation Network is becoming a compelling outlet for offbeat endeavours. But while these bitesized experiences are being pitched as effective palette cleansers for the throngs of blockbusters available on the PlayStation 3, there’s a very real danger that they may be all that the Vita has to offer.
For existing owners, that’s not such a bad thing – but if the platform has any chance of improving its position in the marketplace, it needs bigger productions to accompany them. The system’s trickle of retail titles has been desperate to say the least over the past couple of months, with only Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma Plus, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, and Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable of note. It’s little wonder that the console’s struggling, with early adopters forced to feed on scraps while the second wave of software ambles onto store shelves.
And the manufacturer is not helping matters either. It’s been months since we last got an exclusive, first-party title for the Vita, and while it’s perhaps a little unfair to discredit cross-platform initiatives such as PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, we’re not convinced that casual consumers are being drawn to the platform through such endeavours. As such, Soul Sacrifice is the next proper Vita title that stands any chance of shifting hardware in western territories. Then the wait goes on for Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway, unless the company announces differently at E3.
It’s just not good enough. While we were quick to defend the platform holder this time last year when the system had just launched, we anticipated that the company would have better primed its pipeline by now – but if anything the outlook is getting worse. There’s no doubt that the manufacturer’s done a fantastic job of procuring content from independent studios – but these releases should be supplementing an altogether stronger line-up, rather than representing the crux of the console’s offering.
Sony’s reluctance to reduce the platform’s price overseas has come under fire from some pundits, but it’s clear that the company hasn’t had the appropriate opportunity in western territories yet. The price drop in Japan worked because the manufacturer had appealing content like One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 and Phantasy Star Online 2 to back it up. Short of the aforementioned Killzone: Mercenary in September, there’s very little on the horizon overseas that could complement a long term reduction and pull the system out of the abyss that it currently occupies.
Like many of you, we’re itching to play Hotline Miami on our handheld – but we’re in the minority. The console’s impending riches of indie content offer an exciting outlook for existing owners, but they’re unlikely to draw new consumers towards the platform. And as long as the system’s install base remains so low, we’re all going to be forced to make do with the titles that smaller developers bequeath us.
Do you agree that the Vita needs more retail software to accompany its offering of smaller content, or are you quite satisfied with the current indie line-up? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.
Are indie games enough to save the PlayStation Vita? (35 votes)
Yes, the system's line-up looks incredible
I'm not really sure
No, the console needs more retail titles
Please login to vote in this poll.