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)
None, as I don’t own the system
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