News Article

Talking Point: Sony Must Solve the PlayStation Vita's Memory Woes

Posted by Sammy Barker

Storage insanity

The announcement of the PlayStation Vita’s price sent rapturous applause throughout the industry. At the time, many pundits had predicted that the handheld would cost upwards of $350 – a figure not unreasonable for a company that’s famous for the extortionate price of its consoles. The firm eventually disappointed its critics, revealing that its next generation portable would retail for $250, the same figure as the Nintendo 3DS at the time. Of course, it failed to disclose one important detail: memory cards.

The platform holder’s decision to run with a proprietary storage method was probably partly motivated by the rampant piracy that plagued the PlayStation Portable, but it’s gradually become one of the sharpest thorns in the Vita’s size. It’s not just the firm’s reluctance to adopt a standardised format that’s frustrating, but also the manufacturer’s complete disregard for reasonable pricing. At the time of writing, a 32GB memory card costs £54.99/$86.83 on the various regional arms of Amazon, an outrageous sum when you consider that a similarly sized SanDisk SD card will set you back a third of the price.

Sony may well argue that the Vita’s cards guarantee a consistent performance, but let’s be frank, that’s just marketing speak. To our knowledge, the 3DS functions perfectly well using the non-proprietary format, so what makes the Vita so special? In truth, its transfer speeds aren’t that impressive at all, so it’s not like the cards are employing some expense inflating sorcery behind-the-scenes. More likely is that the manufacturer’s merely using the imperative peripherals in order to make back some of the money that it’s losing on the hardware. But it’s not a sound strategy as far as we’re concerned.

When the memory cards aren’t deterring potential consumers from investing in the platform, they’re irritating those that have already stumped up for the machine instead. Anyone stuck on a 16GB card or smaller will find themselves playing data Tetris on a regular basis, or simply shunning the latest content on the PlayStation Store. Impulse purchases are the bread and butter of the digital era, but with storage space at a premium, we’re starting to question whether we can actually squeeze the newest releases onto our system. It doesn’t help that the platform’s backup utility is an utter nightmare, and the only real way of keeping your saves secure is by splashing out on a PlayStation Plus subscription.

Naturally, any storage woes can be eased by plumping up for a bigger card, but such a solution brings us back to our original point: they’re simply too expensive. It’s baffling that the company’s chosen to plug its ears and ignore this issue over the past twelve months, opting to let the system sink rather make a change. Granted, the console’s problems run deeper than the cost of memory, but we’d certainly rank it among the top three issues, right beneath poor marketing and a lack of games. Recent bundles have included complimentary 4GB cards to be fair, but that’s just not enough and Sony knows it.

And yet, with a snowballing lineup of downloadable indie games, you’d think that the firm would be going out of its way to encourage new owners to explore the PlayStation Store. A smaller stick will get you started, but it’s never going to promote any long term investment into the firm’s network, and isn’t that ultimately more important than the lure of one-off shots of profit garnered from grudgingly purchased proprietary peripherals? We’ve no idea what the platform holder’s got in store for the Vita over the coming year, but we do know that it could seriously earn some goodwill from consumers by admitting that it made a mistake with the system's storage space, and dropping the price of those extortionate cards.


Do you feel that the Vita’s memory cards are too expensive? Would you purchase more downloadable games if you could acquire a larger capacity stick for a more reasonable price point? Let us know in the comments section below.

What size memory card do you currently have in your Vita? (65 votes)

4GB

22%

8GB

8%

16GB

15%

32GB

35%

None, as I don’t own the system

20%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (41)

Epic

#2

Epic said:

Sony sells Vita at loss they just compensate that loss with the Memory Card sales. and now they are getting more money thanks to all the PS+ users that don't want to constantly keep deleting their new "free" games each month and to make it worse you can only use 1 PSN account per memory card so if you are sharing your Vita with brothers or friends the best thing you can do is getting another memory card or format it every time you use that Vita.

Paranoimia

#3

Paranoimia said:

Bought a 4GB card with it, and picked up a 32GB card a couple of weeks later.

Are they cheap? Not exactly. But they're a worthwhile purchase. You pay £30-£40 for a game, so £55 for a card which holds many games isn't that big a deal, at least to me. Sure, SD cards are cheaper, but this isn't an SD card. Cheaper cards would leave no option but a more expensive system; at least with the cards, you have a range of prices to choose from.

The transfer/backup software isn't that bad either. Could be quicker, but it's easy enough to use.

JGMR

#4

JGMR said:

I picked up a 4GB one since I do not make use of DLC or DD games.

Stuffgamer1

#6

Stuffgamer1 said:

32 gig, and I'm rapidly running out of room on THAT. Sony really needs to fix this situation...I swear, the prices dropped much faster on PSP memory sticks, and there were always new, bigger sizes coming out. I knew when the Vita released that 32 wasn't going to cut it forever, but it was the most I could get! The fact that this is STILL the case is absurd.

zipmonStaff

#7

zipmon said:

I'm just scraping by with a 4GB card by playing FFIX & Klonoa over Remote Play instead of on the card, and even then I'm pretty much full! I'd love to have a bigger card, but I definitely won't be upgrading until the price comes way down on the 16 or 32gb cards.

ShogunRokAdmin

#8

ShogunRok said:

Yeah I was a cheapskate and stuck with a 4GB at launch. I've had to delete things to get other things to fit on there but it's lasted me so far. I would have bought a bigger card a while ago if they weren't ridiculously overpriced. Sony need to slash the prices on these at all costs.

Squiggle55

#9

Squiggle55 said:

I bought the 32GB at launch. I just pretended it was the price of the system. I'm basically out of space now, though. And I would certainly welcome them both releasing a larger card AND lowering the prices.

hydeks

#10

hydeks said:

I only have the 4gb that came with the starter pack, I keep wanting to upgrade, but $100 for 32gb really isn't worth it :(

3Above

#11

3Above said:

I still have my 4Gb that came with the First edition bundle and i will not buy another. Their too expensive right now and 32GB still wouldnt be enough. Im holding out untill we get at least a 64gb card, but im hoping for a 100 + Gb card. Atleast then if you spend alot of money on it you wont run out of space for a long time.

hamispink

#12

hamispink said:

I have a fully filled 32 GB card. Even at $80 online, it's an incredible rip-off. I bought a 32 GB micro-sd card (which I assume is made VERY similar technology) for $20.

rjejr

#13

rjejr said:

Nice article.

It really is a double negative b/c you cant use one of the probably half dozem micro SD cards you have laying around since they yet sgain made their own propriatary format but that new format is way overpriced compared to micro SD cards. Just uneccassary and wrong.

neumaus

#14

neumaus said:

I recently upgraded to a 16 gig card, up from the 4 gig I got it with. I want the 32 but at the moment it's really too expensive. While I absolutely love the convenience of digital games, I may have to start buying more physical releases and just picking the one physical game I want on the long car trip/long wait somewhere.
(I'm probably going to need a new card soon as I also recently got PS+! Yay for free Blazblue this month :3 /excited).

Zombie_Barioth

#15

Zombie_Barioth said:

I really don't get Sony, I'm baffled that the same company claiming they learned their lesson with the PS3 and were smart enought to use standard PC hardware to cut costs for the PS4 managed to screw this up. They really have to ask themselves whats worse, cutting memory card prices or all that unsold hardware and software lying around.

NathanUC

#16

NathanUC said:

32gb and I've been out of space for a very long time. It's my BIGGEST gripe with Vita. There are many psn games I don't even bother trying because I don't have space. Switching memory cards is annoying and.. it's 2013.. I shouldn't have to carry multiple memory cards on me. Release larger ones already....

FullbringIchigo

#18

FullbringIchigo said:

i only have the 4gb that my Vita came with so i can only get one game on it (Uncharted Golden Abyss)

on topic i think sony should let others company's make cards for the vita too because they would have to pay sony to make the cards so they would still be getting money back no matter what version people buy and it means cheaper cards for everyone

ThreadShadow

#19

ThreadShadow said:

@Sammy Great article! I completely agree. I still have the 4gig that came with the system. It's basically full. I'm not about to spend $80-$100 on the 32gig. I haven't recently and most likely won't be buying any Vita-specific PSN content until they lower the price significantly on the 32.

I think Sony won't budge an inch on the cards anytime soon. They see the Vita as a sinking ship...sure they're throwing it a couple life-preservers over the coming months to see if it can keep it's head above water, but mostly they seem content to let it ring up as many memory card prices as it can before it goes under for the third time.

: (

KALofKRYPTON

#20

KALofKRYPTON said:

There's nothing 'special' about these cards other than the shape. The pricing is very deliberate, memory is cheap as chips these days. A big reason for the propriatory memory cards is to thwart piracy somewhat, but they should be cheaper.
I have a 32GB now with a 4GB spare. about 10GB left on the 32, more if dump the Music Unlimited playlists. I'm not adverse to deleting stuff now I can save to the cloud with plus.

Zombie_Barioth

#21

Zombie_Barioth said:

@artemisthemp
Sony isn't the only company with failed/under utilized hardware or features if thats what your getting at. Besides, I think thats the least of their problems.

Also, Sony has/had a thing for proprietary formats. Memory sticks were exclusive to them initially and they were the brains behind mini-disks even before the UMD.

get2sammybAdmin

#22

get2sammyb said:

Interesting to see a large chunk of people trying to get by on the 4GB card — I suspected as much. Do you guys on 4GB cards find yourselves buying less digital games? It strikes me that if Sony made memory cheaper/more available, they'd make back the lost profits through increased PS Store usage.

Gemuarto

#23

Gemuarto said:

LOL, PSP memory cards were cheap enougph from some point in time. But i never bother buying new. So i've spent almost ten years with PSP and 2GB memory card =). Now I have 8GB PSV card and don't have any problems with it. Maybe it's because of my habbit to play one game at a time. But I think that Sony should at least make 64 and 128GB cards for those who use PSV not only as game machine, but as music and video player. But also I understand, that they are waiting for something and price drops on vita and memory cards will bring them more pain than joy =)).

rastamadeus

#24

rastamadeus said:

It's not just the Vita memory cards - I broke a PS3 pad yesterday and went to get a new one this morning only to discover they cost £40-50. £40-50! That is a soluteky pathetic. Controllers used to be £20 or less so why the hell is this as much as a game? And don't give me any nonsense about it being "technical" or whatever as you can get a Wiimote and Nunchuck or that monstrosity of a 360 controller for £25.

charlesnarles

#25

charlesnarles said:

@Stuffgamer1 @Squiggle55 yeah, 32gbs seemed like a ton, but each Vita game is over a gig, and there's way more than 32gb of free stuff on PS+, so everyone has to pick and choose no matter what. No Tekken for me...
Kinda disappointing, but what can ya do? PSP hacker boneheads ruined it for all the normal consumers.

artemisthemp

#26

artemisthemp said:

DRM is only a bother for legal customers as pirates always find a way to break it.

I don't understand, why Sony even made the 4GB memory card, since you can't really have anything on it.

Ginkgo

#27

Ginkgo said:

Price is the second biggest issue for the Vita in Australia. I laughed at your opening paragraph, because $350 is exactly what the Wifi version cost in Australia at launch. The 3G model was $450! They have come down a little since then, around $50, and most stores have simply dropped the 3G altogether. What a surprise. And retailers wonder why everyone in Aus buys from overseas on the internet.

The biggest issue, however, is memory cards. With digital downloads becoming more and more important (who buys CDs nowadays), the idea that a 4G memory card is even useful is just silly. Can you imagine an iPhone releasing with a 4GB model! Their smallest is 16GB.

Yes, Sony's 32GB cards cost $95 which is expensive and SD cards are buckets cheaper. But more importantly, SDHC cards come in sizes up to 128GB (for similar prices to Sony’s 32GB) and new SDXC cards come in 256GB versions (ok at a cost!). The point being Sony's tech is so far behind.

I honestly believe proprietary memory cards was the dumbest decision Sony made regarding the Vita, constricting them with both size and price. Honestly, Vita 2.0 needs to be SDHC compatible.

http://www.cnet.com.au/playstation-vita-launch-date-pricing-announced-339324580.htm

ViciousDS

#28

ViciousDS said:

I have a 4GB stick that, I have to keep playing Tetris with, thankfully though I use my PS3 as the media holder as it holds a wopping 1TB, so I can store all my downloads there instead.

JavierYHL

#29

JavierYHL said:

i dun think by lowering the prices of the memory card would help move a lot of vitas as well...vita needs more AAA games...

hydeks

#30

hydeks said:

@get2sammyb yup, I don't download anything off the PSN store for my Vita because of the memory problem. I got PS All-Stars as a download with the PS3 copy, and the file for PS All-Stars is over 3gb, almost 4gb, with the updates that they had, so naturally, I NEVER play this game. I think there PSN store sales would go up, and the cross-buy feature would make more sense if they just lowered the prices of the memory cards :P

Squiggle55

#31

Squiggle55 said:

After reading these comments I now see the problem even more clearly. With a 32GB card I can delete games I've beaten and that sort of stuff, and it's never stopped me from buying something I wanted to buy, but I have already had to delete games I haven't beaten, and it's obvious that the prices of the memory cards ARE stopping some people from buying games. With a move towards a downloadable future and a focus on these great indie PSN games Sony needs to take down this barrier.

Stuffgamer1

#32

Stuffgamer1 said:

@rastamadeus: Well, I dunno what to tell you about controller prices, because what you stated isn't accurate to America. Wii Remote plus Nunchuk still adds up to $60 here, 360 controller and Wii U Pro Controller are $50, PS3 controller $55. I figure PS3 can get away with at least SOME more just because of all the different features in it...the rechargeable battery is wonderful, of course (matched only by Wii U Pro), and it also has the rumble and sixaxis stuff raising the cost. I do wish controllers were still as cheap as last gen, but sadly those days appear to be gone forever.

Gamer83

#33

Gamer83 said:

Great article. It's too bad Sony is brain dead when it comes to this situation. At the very least the prices on all current mem cards should be cut in half and a 64 GB card should be released at lower than the price the 32 is now. Even then, these things would still not be priced fairly but it'd be a hell of a lot better than what we have today.

Strofan7

#35

Strofan7 said:

Honestly memory cards are my biggest issue with the system. There are enough games for me (more would be better) but the memory card pricing is just outrageous still.

BlueProxy

#36

BlueProxy said:

I'm juggling content with 8gb, and like many others refuse to pay that outrageous price for 16 and 32gb... and I'm not cheap when it comes to electronics. I just don't pay insane amounts of money for anything that's clearly not worth the price.

Kage_88

#37

Kage_88 said:

I bought a 32g memory card about a year ago, in preparation for my eventual Vita purchase.

I have not yet bought a Vita. I think the price is putting me off...I'm just waiting for it to plummet.

Fruitbat1919

#38

Fruitbat1919 said:

I have a 32gb and a 4gb, both full. I have some games just on my computer hard drive.

Sony have lost money from me due to the memory card issue. I would buy a 128gb card if reasonable priced and probably be close to filling it by now.

The Vita is currently my only gaming machine as kids and family get in the way of being able to use the TV. I love the ability to pick up my Vita at any time and have choice of many games. Games do not work when changing memory cards for myself.....if it is not on my 32gb, I will rarely play it (I rarely play my 10 games on cards either).

The cost compared to Ipod/Ipad memory is about even and at least upgrading is possible, but in an age where media downloads are going to be the main source of income, 32gb max is cutting your own throat Sony.

I enjoy the Indie approach Sony is taking. I enjoy the PSP and PS1 games too, but now I doubt I will buy much more until bigger cards are available (at a reasonable price). I can buy a 3DS XL with a large cheap card for under £200, which is probably what Sony would have got off me in games in the next six months if I had room...........rant................rant............

Fruitbat1919

#39

Fruitbat1919 said:

I missed a 'not'................."I will NOT buy much more until bigger reasonable priced cards are available....bet I am not the only one Sony.

fishwilson

#40

fishwilson said:

And its really sad too as the Vita otherwise is a great system as the psp was before it. I'm more and more drawn to handheld gaming these days and while the 3ds is great I think there should be room for a powerhouse handheld device like the Vita too not only android tablets. Yes I'm stuck with the 4 GB and its full and I have to remove stuff to buy new games from the network, its not ideal. While my 3Ds is purring along w/ 32 Gb in its belly and lots of room for eshop games and demos.

Fruitbat1919

#41

Fruitbat1919 said:

I've decided to have a detour from my Vita and get a 3DS XL until Sony give me bigger memory cards. I now have way too many games that are not on a card and hence have to keep swapping with others. I will wait for Sony to release 64GB cards at the current price of the 32GB cards. They will more than make up the money in what people spend on download games.

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