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Talking Point: Are Cross Platform Games a Help or a Hindrance to the Vita?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Devil in disguise

The mere suggestion of Soul Sacrifice selling its spirit to the PlayStation 4 in yesterday’s Talking Point pushed some posters into a Black Rite-esque fury. Their argument: the PlayStation Vita needs exclusive games if it is to reverse its current retail predicament. It’s a fair response – Sony’s flagship handheld has certainly struggled to summon a software catalogue of its own since launch. But wasn’t the promise of cross platform games the foundation upon which the handheld was constructed?

In our feature, we mentioned that Sony has the opportunity to really expand the appeal of Keiji Inafune’s dark fantasy adventure by bringing the game’s inevitable successor to its next generation console. The suggestion was partially inspired by Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, the Nintendo exclusive that allows you to transfer data between the Wii U and the 3DS. Having spent the last few weeks hunched over our Vita, we’d love to see our sorcerer on the big screen. But clearly not everyone agrees.

When the platform holder first revealed its current generation handheld, one of the features that it heralded was the idea of cross platform play. This has gone on to adopt many permutations over the past year, but is perhaps best recognised by the idea that you can transfer your progress between consoles. The functionality was originally demonstrated with cancelled dungeon crawler Warrior’s Lair at E3, but has since spread to the likes of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, MotorStorm RC, and dozens more.

It’s a brilliant feature, especially when complemented by cross-buy. While the prospect of purchasing the same game twice can lead to some raised eyebrows, when you get both versions for the same price, cross-save really comes into its own. Seamlessly shifting your progress between systems feels like an almost futuristic concept, and it makes a lot of sense. Why not grind out a few quests, gather up a handful of collectibles, or set a few new lap times when you’re on the train? It’s not like there’s anything better to do.

But of course, the whole notion is built upon an attribute that continues to haunt the Vita on a daily basis – that it doesn’t really have a content catalogue of its own. Outside of the initial software offering of Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush, and Escape Plan, the system has really struggled to establish a large enough selection of exclusives to move units. There has been the odd release – Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified – but it’s been forced to share the vast majority of its lineup with the PS3. Is that a help or a hindrance, though?

Sony’s clearly adopted a different model when it comes to promoting its flagship handheld. Endeavours such as cross-buy have made it increasingly attractive for active PS3 owners to purchase the machine. We suspect that there are a number of you reading this article that haven’t yet stumped up for the portable system but actually already own multiple titles for it. You’ll no doubt reach a point where you’ve acquired that much content for the console, that it makes more sense to buy the hardware than not.

But this is perhaps the overarching issue with the cross platform concept – it’s primarily designed with hardcore players in mind. For the few that demand to take their progress everywhere, it’s a godsend in gaming form – but for everyone else, it detracts from the system’s overall offering. While the 3DS is able to flaunt Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Fire Emblem: Awakening, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, the Vita doesn’t really have anything to compete. Sure, the likes of Thomas Was Alone, Dragon Fantasy: Book I, and Guacamelee! are compelling additions to the console’s catalogue, but they’re all PS3 games, too.

And so the conversation is caught at something of a crossroads. The cross platform concept certainly engenders both convenience and marketing opportunities for existing fans of the brand, but it also detracts from the substance of the platform’s software catalogue. That presents a conundrum for the console maker: should it double down on the needs and requirements of its existing fanbase, or overlook them in an attempt to lure outsiders to its machine? We suppose that an ideal world would bring equal balance between the two, but the company appears to be leaning towards the former for the time being.

Of course, there’s a third angle that we’re still yet to explore. With the Vita’s install base so low, it’s clear that some developers are using cross platform opportunities to mitigate the danger associated with selling their wares exclusively for the console. By deploying their games on the PS3 too, developers stand a greater chance of making a return on their investment than if they were to support the handheld system exclusively. But it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, because without system-selling exclusives, it’s unclear how that risk will ever be reduced.

It’s a tricky situation all around, and it appears to be exacerbated by the fact that gamers are divided over what they actually want. Cross-save certainly feels like the future, but as long as it’s around, the Vita’s probably never going to establish that roster of handheld-only software that it requires to be regarded as anything more than a supplementary system. We’re torn. The question is: which side of the fence do you currently sit?


Do you think that cross platform titles are a help or a hindrance to the Vita? Do you love cross-save functionality, or would you prefer it if the system had more exclusive games? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.

Are cross platform titles a help or a hindrance to the Vita? (38 votes)

A help, I love taking my progress everywhere that I go

42%

I'm honestly torn on this topic

24%

A hindrance, the system needs more exclusive games

34%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (37)

Sanquine

#1

Sanquine said:

Funny , i say exclusives ! Look at 3ds ! Exclusives make it a reason for purchase because only a minor group want to progress on the go. Would you buy a vita if the exact same game is on the ps3? Many would not buy a vita for that reason ! #gorgon eye black rite

BornOfEvil

#2

BornOfEvil said:

I know people who own a vita, but not a PS3. That's why I feel like cross platform games aren't a hindrance to the Vita. Not everyone wants to buy a PS3 this late in the game, so they settle for the Vita, which has access to some PS3 games and it's own exclusives.

hamispink

#3

hamispink said:

The way I see it, It's either cross platform games or nothing at this point. Unless Sony will drop the price and move units, no publisher will want to produce exclusive content (not even Sony).

rjejr

#4

rjejr said:

Nice piece.

I still don't have a Vita - and maybe never will - but if you did get rid of all the multi-plat games would the Vita have anything left worth buying it for? Not owning 1 is 1 of the reasons I let my PS+ lapse, I felt like I was paying for a benefit I wasn't getting. I think the Vita needed more exclusives to begin with to get the system sold and then you start selling the cross-plays. The problem is Sony probably planned for a lot more being sold so now they are in a bind. Maybe if most PS3 games came w/ a free copy for the Vita then more Vita's would sell?

Serious question - is the Vita really not selling due to lack of games (see WiiU) or b/c that $249 price for a handheld is just plain nuts? There are many $200 7" tablets in the market now, and $170 3DS and $200 3DS XL, a $250 Vita does not look like a good deal. And thats what people look for, good deals. Not to mention the insane memory pricing. So maybe if Sony dropped the price to $169 (I picked that weird price to match the 3DS price drop from $249 to $169) the system would sell w/ the current game line-up? And then companies could make exclusives for the larger install base.

Or they could make like the Nook HD+ and add Google Play ;-)

Epic

#5

Epic said:

There's almost nothing to do at this point.
Users won't get a Vita with all the current 3DS exclusives and all the awesome games coming this year this 3 headed monster is prepared to kill the Vita.
The only solution is a price drop but Sony is already selling at loss and losing a lot of money so its all a suicide in the end.
At this point the only thing that can save the Vita is the game that saved the PSP Monster Hunter but right now is currently out of reach Capcom already told us that we shouldn't expect it soon :
I think that maybe a PS4/Vita bundle might help but the Vita still need more to stay alive.

Sanquine

#6

Sanquine said:

@Epic in japan vita is selling .Mh wont save it >> Wii u has monster hunter ... Yeah a real savior ! @rejejr Typical for having an opinion without having the handheld !

Epic

#7

Epic said:

@Sanquine Consoles are not really popular in Japan and Monster Hunter 3 got exactly 5 different versions. Wii's Tri, PSP's Portable 3rd, PS3 Portable 3rd HD, 3DS's 3G and Wii U's 3G HD it was obvious people wasn't going to 3G hd after japan gamers getting 2 of the previous versions.

charlesnarles

#8

charlesnarles said:

Vita needs to have its own connotation regarding the games it has, just like every other console does. More cross-play games would be putting the Vita titles on ps3/4, so fine with me, as long as control disparities aren't a problem

LDXD

#9

LDXD said:

I'm honestly torn on this topic, but If I had to choose I'd say that it's more of a hindrance because if it weren't for the few exclusives examples being soul sacrifice, the upcoming Ys game and such I wouldn't be remotely interested in the vita and like I said before if I could just get those games on my ps3 why bother spending over $300 just to be able to play those games on the go? Its just not worth it to me it needs those exclusives. Good article btw

Stuffgamer1

#10

Stuffgamer1 said:

Vita definitely needs more exclusive games. If it weren't for the exclusives, I definitely wouldn't own one at all, because I just don't game on the go often enough to justify it otherwise. I'm usually playing right here in my room one way or the other, so if it's available on PS3, I'll just play that. Perfectly natural, I think. But then you have my brother, who prefers to play cross-play games on his Vita...even though he's in the same room as his PS3...what a weirdo. :P

Anyway, yeah, I think more exclusives would help sell the machine, but the fact of the matter is they probably do need a price drop even more. The combination of the two factors is really helping sales in Japan...and it feels like a big "eff you" to the Western market to drop the price in ONLY Japan.

It is worth noting that I usually prefer the Vita version of handheld-exclusives...like Virtue's Last Reward and that upcoming Batman spin-off. They're not EXCLUSIVE exclusive, but they're still generally a bit better than their 3DS counterpart, IMO. Shame that kind of thing doesn't happen very often.

Jaz007

#11

Jaz007 said:

I think it needs both cross-play and exclusive. For the most part, I think any games that would be cross-play would just be on the PS3 anyway. I don't think it would really get more or less exclusive games without cross-play. I think it's another feature and selling point to help it.

Paranoimia

#12

Paranoimia said:

Just more console-quality games would suit me - I don't care if they're cross-platform or not.

I'm sick of all the retro-themed indie stuff that keeps appearing, which could run on a 3DS, DS or even a GBA - I'm not interested in games like that at all. I'm looking forward to Killzone Mercenary at the moment.

It's true that there are cheap tablets (I have a Nexus 7 myself), but they're not competition for the Vita as far as any serious gamer is concerned; a few gems aside, the majority of the games on Android/iOS are utter rubbish.

FullbringIchigo

#13

FullbringIchigo said:

the vita really does need some exclusive games cross platform is a good thing but in all honesty why would someone go and buy a vita to play a game they can play on PS3?

Scrible

#14

Scrible said:

If it comes on two systems, why buy the higher system, so stupid, like supporting the ps2 that long

rastamadeus

#16

rastamadeus said:

When on form the Vita is a great console. The problem is Sony still doesn't get handhelds. Gameboy, DS and 3DS have annihilated the competition every single time because they don't pretend to be something they're not. They play games. Damn good ones too. With the Vita Sony have again tried to make a portable version of their current PlayStation console - not a portable PlayStation of it's own. Until Sony realise making it harder, better, faster, stronger than the competition just doesn't work in a handheld they will keep repeating the mistakes of Sega, Nokia, Neo Geo, Atari, Bandai...

Ps4all

#18

Ps4all said:

I am playing sly cooper thieves in time right now on the vita, this is a game i would not normally take time to play on ps3, but i love it on the go. i am glad they did this Need For Speed and mortal kombat cross platform, as i dont think they would have spent as many resources to develop these games if they were vita only.

Zombie_Barioth

#19

Zombie_Barioth said:

I don't think cross-buy is a big problem by itself but the lack of must have games of any kind is. The Vita has some great games but not enough to be worth dropping $250 on when compared to the other options available. Like it or not people aren't limited to handhelds to get games like Tetris anymore (that goes for Nintendo too, not just pointing at Sony here).

Yes, having your favorite games on the go is a selling point of handhelds but so is their own unique library. There are a lot of games only on Nintendo's handhelds and many fresh installments from their own franchises along side those ports.

Gamer83

#20

Gamer83 said:

@Sanquine

Wrong, I think cross-buy is a very nice feature for the right kind of games. There's nothing wrong with the machine having cross platform titles the thing is Sony also needs to realize the Vita needs its own exclusives. I enjoy having games like Sly Cooper, MLB The Show, Guacamelee and Sine Mora to play on the go. I also like exclusive games like Gravity Rush and Soul Sacrifice. Sony needs to figure out a way to find the right balance. Stuff like Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway will also help but it needs more. Two of the best games on PSP were Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror and Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow, Bend Studio needs to get started on another portable entry in the series. It's probably not possible at this point but another portable GTA wouldn't hurt. San Andreas Stories is long overdue.

Snorky

#21

Snorky said:

I'm interested to see what the western sales figures will be like for Soul Sacrifice. Hopefully it'll show devs that if they do put some effort and funds into making exclusive psv games that it's worth their while.

Slapshot

#22

Slapshot said:

For "PlayStation fans" that own both a Vita and a PS3, the ability to take PS3 games on the go is in no way a hindrance. But to anyone who doesn't own a Vita and isn't currently prospecting the purchase of a Vita in the near future, the simple fact that the majority of the titles available for the console are also available on the PS3 is absolutely a hindrance to the console. Why would/should anyone buy an expensive handheld console to take the exact same games you already own with you, when you can purchase a 3DS and get a vast quantity of excellent first and third party exclusive titles for it at a significantly lesser install cost, especially when you factor in the cost of the proprietary memory cards?

I enjoy my Vita just as much as the next guy, but the lack of support - and lacklustre past support - for this console from Sony itself is worrisome, in my opinion. Vita needs first party exclusives to get it selling, not ports of PS3 titles. Either Sony gives people a reason to start buying the handheld, or we are going to see even more third party and Indie support dwindle away for it. There's absolutely too much competition in the gaming industry these days with the mobile industry's recent explosion to let the Vita sit stagnant like it currently is.

get2sammybAdmin

#23

get2sammyb said:

@Snorky It's too niche. The game will do well among existing owners, but I don't think many people are going to buy a console for it.

Slapshot

#24

Slapshot said:

@get2sammyb Yep. Existing owners will indeed (or most likely) sacrifice the cash for it, but I don't see it being a "system seller" either.

neumaus

#25

neumaus said:

I think it's a hindrance. I want some high-quality exclusives already! I have a PS3 and I never use the cross-buy/cross-save feature. Never. But hey, just because I don't doesn't mean others are the same :/

@Slapshot Haha, love the pun!

Gamer83

#27

Gamer83 said:

@JavierYHL

Yes, they need more games period and I don't care how they bring some of these over either. I'd prefer retail but if it has to be through PSN and I need to buy a bigger memory card, so be it.

divinelite

#28

divinelite said:

I believe if MH comes to PSvita, it will be a system seller, at least here in Asia.
No matter how good Soul Sacrifice for me (and I don't like MH), existing Monster Hunter fans went to 3ds (I guess 10 of my friends bought 3ds for the sole purpose of MH)...

for me... I might buy 3ds only for Rune Factory 4 lol

Snorky

#29

Snorky said:

I can't really see them bringing MH to the vita, as much as it hurts to admit it.

rjejr

#30

rjejr said:

@Sanquine - In my defense, if I owned the handheld, then everybody would have the handheld by now and we wouldn't be having this conversation as I'm always late to the party after enough good games are out :-)

I do own a PS3 and I owned a PSP for 2 days 2 years ago. I returned the PSP b/c it didn't do several things I thought it would do. First and foremost - though they advertise it as if it's a portable PS3 it didn't let me set up accounts for myself and 2 kids. I bought 3 games with it and none of them had separate save points either so we couldn't even share. The 3DS doesn't have accounts either but most games outside Pokemon have 3 or 4 save slots so my family can share the games even though we own three 3DS.

So no, I don't own a Vita, but I think I know enough about it to have an informed opinion on why I don't. And I think there are a lot of people who don't own one either b/c of the lack of games or price, and these are the people who's opinion actually matter more b/c we are the people who Sony needs to convince to buy one.

Paranoimia

#32

Paranoimia said:

@Slapshot "Why would/should anyone buy an expensive handheld console to take the exact same games you already own with you, when you can purchase a 3DS"

Perhaps, like me, because you don't actually rate Nintendo games. :-)

BlueProxy

#33

BlueProxy said:

It has it's benefits, but at the time, I don't think they should make it into some grand selling point. It's not working. They still need exclusives to push vita sells, and cross play should "never" require purchasing the same game twice. Different studio or not, they need to work that out on the back end.

Slapshot

#34

Slapshot said:

@Paranoimia Oh, you know I have a Vita. In fact, I didn't buy my Vita on day one, I paid $60 bucks extra to get it a week early! Haha

But with what I was referring to was from an industry minded perspective - the angle that I typically write/think in. Here on a "PlayStation" fan site that statement does indeed sound off a bit, but when you look at the gaming consumers as a whole - not the gaming 'community' alone - bias and preference takes no precedent. Sales numbers are concrete proof that 3DS is preferred over the the Vita. I'll break this down for you a bit more:

If you look at both the Wii U (current) and the 3DS before its price reduction, the hardcore Nintendo fan base support is a handful of million deep. This gives a rough idea of the loyal Nintendo fans who will purchase anything "Nintendo," regardless of cost. Vita (current) shows us the exact same thing, because it is still priced outside of the mainstream consumers' pocketbooks. When you take away the bias/preference you will see that all three of these consoles are similar in nature and none of the the numbers are supportive a console itself.

The 3DS' price reduction and influx of game releases landed it in the appropriate price range for the mainstream audience to start buying, which continues to grow as word of mouth and market share continually climbs higher. If you remember, the 3DS was getting worse press than the Vita, because the 3DS was thought to be damaging to gamers' eyes.

If there is one thing that the recent trends have taught us, it is that brand loyalty will no longer support a console - these companies have to acquire the mainstream audience, there's simply no way around it. The mobile market is taking an enormous amount of the gaming industry's capital into its sector and pulling the multitude of million of casual gamers right along with it. While hardcore gamers typically think along the lines of, "good riddance," the more money that stays in the dedicated gaming sector, the brighter its future is.

The next decade is going to be interested to watch unfold!

Ginkgo

#35

Ginkgo said:

@Slapshot : I agree. Brand loyalty still exists, but it will only go so far. just look at the number of people who jumped from the ps2 to xbox.

Personally I don't own a Vita because of the price here in Australia, no other reason (certainly not lack of games and I think cross compatibility is a good thing). If I bought a Vita, 32gb memory card and 1 game it would cost me close to $475 with the best deal I can find. They were even more expensive at launch. I am not spending $500 on a handheld. I have other priorities.

Slapshot

#36

Slapshot said:

@Ginkgo Even though I'm in the US, I'm the editor for a site that is based out of Australia. I've learned a few things about Aussies in the past year and that is that they are dang fine journalist (all sectors) and that gaming is an extremely expensive hobby in Australia. I had absolutely no idea just how expensive the hardware cost were there!

NAZA1999

#37

NAZA1999 said:

all HD collections should be on the vita like hitman an other games an for crossplay needs an update version of the game u playing on the ps3 so u can play on the vita on the go an i think crossplay should be charged a small fee to play any game on the vita so that all developers get their cut on games they made

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