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Talking Point: Are Indie Games Enough to Save the PlayStation Vita?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Little wonders

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

9%

I'm not really sure

26%

No, the console needs more retail titles

66%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (23)

irken004

#1

irken004 said:

It's hard to justify buying indie titles on consoles/handhelds when I can find them usually much cheaper on Steam.

Paranoimia

#2

Paranoimia said:

No.

For me, the majority of indie games are rarely worth bothering with, full stop. While they are nice to have on a platform for those who like them, they are not enough to support a system.

I don't spend hundreds of pounds on state-of-the-art systems to play B-list games.

shingi_70

#3

shingi_70 said:

Yes and No.

Getting a ton of indie support coupled with the PlayStation features will save the Vita in the eyes of gamers and get rid of the Vuta has no games narrative its had since launch.

On the commercial side of things this won't help the Vita that much. Since on consoles indie games are usually a nice thing that might be your favorite part of the console but not the reason why you buy one.

ShogunRokAdmin

#5

ShogunRok said:

I'm not a huge indie fan, but I can see indie releases doing some good on Vita... to an extent. There will always be a market for cheaper, quick games you can play on the go. But I don't think it's enough to drive hardware sales - that takes big retail releases.

shinobi88

#6

shinobi88 said:

Download titles are nothin more than a compliment to retail titles. If I wanted indie titles I'd own an Ipad, cuz they got a whole lotta mo indie

Epic

#7

Epic said:

Well it helps but I think it won't save maybe games like Soul Sacrifice will soon end the pain of this console.

PS: @get2sammyb Discovered that Nintendolife has a chatroom why we don't have one?

moomoo

#8

moomoo said:

The Vita exists for people who want games with incredibly high production values in their pocket, seeing as it's a device dedicated to playing games.

Smaller games, as good as they are, just aren't going to be enough for Sony when the gamers who own the system and who'd like to own it have high standards.

Frankly, if someone just wanted to play indie games, he or she would get an iPad. There's way more of those on the App Store, and many are really high-quality too.

Gemuarto

#11

Gemuarto said:

Vita needs indie games made exclusively for Vita. So, I am waiting for Velosity Ultra =).

NathanUC

#12

NathanUC said:

No, Indie games have a nice niche market, but Vita needs games developed by experienced companies with resources to create a memorable and complete game. We already have enough Limbos and Trines. Don't get me wrong, I love inde games like Velosity, but it's rare to see a game of that quality out of small indie studios.

Considering the line up for this year, I don't think Vita 'needs saving'. The support is there and has continued to grow since launch. Once devs switch to PS4, I have a feeling we'll see a lot more from Vita as it's x86 as well. Dual dev will be easier, cheaper, and faster.

Zombie_Barioth

#13

Zombie_Barioth said:

As fun as a lot of indie games can be they just don't draw people to consoles like big retail quality games do, they're simply not selling points. The reason they do so well on PC and mobile devices is because most people already have them.

Dambuster

#14

Dambuster said:

As a vita owner since day one, good indie games are great I love em, but they won't bring any new vita owners.

FullbringIchigo

#15

FullbringIchigo said:

i don't think indie games will be enough to "save the Vita" but it might be enough to keep it afloat until some killer big games can save it

NAZA1999

#16

NAZA1999 said:

an we are still waiting for crossplay thats why we got the dam thing in the 1st place

bentedosz2

#17

bentedosz2 said:

global price cut for the console and memcard. regarding indie games can save vita? my answers is a big NO! bcoz it needs more AAA / KICKASS titles =)

Valky

#18

Valky said:

I love Indie games, I can definitively spend months on them without even thinking about a more commercial game, but I perceive them as not something capable of making the PSVITA suddenly skyrocket in sales. That's out of question, for that reason I could just think about the OUYA, which is already targeted for the indie market followers, and to me it represents the future of this specific game category.

PSVITA MUST BE something more than this, sure indie games are welcome and fun to play, but the main core has to be triple A games, it's good though that Sony is offering a wider selection though, I'm proud of the direction they are taking.

rjejr

#19

rjejr said:

Problem is, indie games are $10 or $15 on Vita and 99c or free on iOS and Android. Or $30 like the Angry Birds Trilogy (who is buying that thing?) I'm not sure indie games only can save it, but a few AAA titles mixed in with some PSN type games and a bunch of free games might help.
Personally I'm getting much more bang for my buck over the past few years from PSN games than retail. And on the PC side you have Popcap and the casuals. I think this is the future, many more cheap games and very few $60 AA titles. See THQ. I also think the KinectBox is going to be all about XBL DLs and have very few AAA titles. If the next Xbox is the 720, then the next 1 - 1080 or whatever - won't even have retail games, it will be all DL. Some of them may be $60, but they still won't be on disc.

Overall though, the Vita still looks better than the Wii U. poor poor Wii U.

brendon987

#20

brendon987 said:

There a gaming revolution happening at the moment. The past 4-5 years when a AAA completes development, a lot off game developer have been released from their jobs. Game developers are sick off this and have been forming team 2-6 people to make their own games. You can see in the quality of games that are being release now that Indies games are going to take off.

Indie games will fuel the gaming industry for the next few years.

But will they save the PS Vita. No – because to survive as an indie developer you will have to port your game to all system and mobile devices. Yes some games will be a lot better on Vita because of the control. But people will play these games on other devices.

Vita needs AA/AAA games to survive. To offer something different from ipad, smartphones.

Jaz007

#21

Jaz007 said:

No, espcially since all if the indie titles you listed are coming to PS3 as well. It needs games that aren't come to other platforms to survive. I think offering games on both and cross play/cross buy are fantastic and should continue to be supported, but it needs its own retail games to live on.

astroshamu

#22

astroshamu said:

No probably not, maybe its just my area but the only games any onecares about is 1st person shooters, sadly I've never gone out and talked about an indie game except for minecraft

Galvatron

#23

Galvatron said:

It concerns Galvatron that so many comments on this article are misinformed in relation to Vita.

As a day-one adopter of all Sony hardware, I've been using my Vita for the past 12 months and enjoyed incredible experiences a la Wipeout 2047, Sine Mora, AC: Liberation, MGS: HD, Most Wanted....plus films such as Prometheus, Skyfall, music streamed via Bluetooth to my JBL Flip.....and downloaded the occasional free title like Lemmings.

Whilst I'm not completely sold on the total merits of Persona, there are PLENTY of other, already existing titles worthy of merit; Virtua Tennis 4, FIFA Soccer (not 13), LBP, Rayman Origins, PS1 Classics.....plenty.

Indie games are an important ingredient of today's market and Sony is leading the charge; if Journey is released at Xmas on Vita, will you naysayers doubt it's validity on Vita? Of course you won't.

Velocity Ultra, Killzone: Liberation, Soul Sacrifice, Final Fantasy X & X-2, Golden Abyss 2, Dead or Alive 5+......I understand the editorial reason for posing this question on Vita, but your human responses disappoint me.

Vita has some stellar, AAA titles this year including the likes of Tearaway, and whilst it's unanimous more AAA titles need to be announced asap, Sony's resources, confirmation of Gaikai streaming PS4 titles to Vita and myriad of dev teams will bring success and third-party AAA support.

For now, play Wipeout 2048 zone levels through decent headphones and zone out, watch an episode of Homeland afterwards then appreciate the portable bliss of Zen Studios' Star Wars Pinball or Gravity Rush......and begin to appreciate that contrary to misinformation, this powerful hardalwate has excellent titles both available now and in the future.

Now, a Transformers title by High Noon which chronicles Megatron's evolution into Galvatron would surely challenge the gaming charts, no?

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