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Reaction: There's Never Been a Better Time to Buy a PlayStation Vita

Posted by Sammy Barker

Handheld heaven

It’s been a tough first year for the PlayStation Vita. The console’s had to contend with poor sales, a relentless competitor, and some serious questions regarding its library. However, the portable machine has matured over the past six months, securing a steady stream of must-play software, largely due to the unwavering dedication of Sony’s external development network. The likes of Shahid Ahmad have been working tirelessly to not only expand the breadth of the platform’s lineup, but also its diversity, too. It may still be lacking the blockbuster exclusives that you’ve been dreaming of, but that’s not stopping the system from overcoming its unconvincing origins, and blossoming into a product that you really must own.

The price drop is just the icing on the cake. While the platform was actually commended for its $249.99 price point at E3 all the way back in 2011, it’s become increasingly clear that a vast majority of the market is not willing to play quite so much for a dedicated handheld in this day and age. That was reflected by the sudden surge of sales during last year’s busy Black Friday period. Reduced to the more affordable sum of $199.99 – and bundled with a big game in the form of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation – the system sold out swiftly. The fact that the console will now be available at that sum for the foreseeable future should give it a small lift – especially with Killzone: Mercenary right around the corner.

And that’s good, because, as admitted by SCEA president Jack Tretton earlier in the year, the Vita’s biggest issue has always been getting consumers to pay attention to it. The system’s attach rate – an incredible 10 games per user on average – is impressive, and the console’s generally liked by anyone that actually purchases it. That’s something that’s evidenced on this very website, with many members desperate for the system to exceed. Admittedly, the memory cards are still an absolute embarrassment – but if the price drop encourages a new batch of fence sitters to grimace through that one glaring issue, then the console’s destined to garner a new breed of fervent fans.

The most important thing is that Vita’s also becoming an attractive option for developers. It still doesn’t really make sense for the likes of Activision and Bethesda to commit millions of dollars to exclusive projects on the format, but we’re not sure that the system needs a whole lot of those types of games anyway. There are only so many hours in the day, and the portable is filling that time with a frankly absurd number of options. You won’t find every single one of the in-production titles appealing, of course, but for those put off by Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition, there’s Minecraft, and for those that couldn’t care less about Spelunky, there’s Fez. The assortment is staggering.

Many of the titles are available elsewhere, it’s true – but Sony’s managed to give the platform a personality by pursuing titles that feel at home on the handheld. Hotline Miami started life on the PC, but despite being ported to other platforms – including the PlayStation 3 – it doesn’t feel right on any system other than the Vita. The murder simulator is playable in short chunks, can be picked up and put down as you please, and looks the business on the OLED screen. The same logic will surely apply to the likes of Rogue Legacy, Luftrausers, and more.

And it’s not like ports are all that the platform’s getting. GamesCom didn’t bring news of a surge of original software, but it did offer enough to complement the cavalcade of smaller hits. Murasaki Baby looks like one of the most imaginatively artistic adventures since Escape Plan, while Big Fest probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but has this particular author giddy at the knees. And for those still reeling from the dearth of so-called blockbuster software, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, Toukiden, and Tearaway shouldn’t be sniffed at.

And that’s all without mentioning Remote Play. It remains to be seen whether this will have an impact on software sales or not, but it’s clear that Sony’s put a significant amount of effort into the PlayStation 4's streaming technology. While it’s hard to glean too much information from this week’s GamesCom stage demo, it certainly seems that the dream envisioned over seven years ago with the PSP is set to become a reality. Assuming that the platform holder can finally deliver on that promise, the Vita is set to blossom into a pretty important part of the next generation experience – and that alone may open an entirely new market to the many positives that the handheld has to offer.

It’s not what we originally envisioned for the handheld over a year ago, of course, but that’s not necessarily a negative. Sony’s latest portable may always be consigned to a niche in a market where smartphones have captured the more casual consumer, but that doesn’t make the console's current situation bad. To the contrary: developers are making money producing products for engaged, active, and vocal consumers, gamers are happily lapping up as much content as possible in the pursuit of more and more software to play, and the Japanese giant has a system that, while not setting the sales charts alight, is buoyed by an extraordinary attach rate, a dedicated fanbase, and a real chance of enhancing the experience of its infinitely more marketable next generation console. Suddenly, things don’t seem quite so bad.


How would you rate the Vita’s current situation? Are you impressed by the sheer breadth of content coming to the console? Is the Remote Play functionality exciting you? Which games are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section below.

What do you make of the Vita’s situation at the moment? (59 votes)

I’m playing the platform more than ever due to the steady stream of solid software

32%

I still wish there were more big games, but I can’t complain about the content on offer

58%

Even though there are a lot of titles on the way, I’m not really interested in them

10%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (40)

Sanquine

#1

Sanquine said:

I play it more than my consoles.... Persona and killzone. Really looking forward to play tear away.

1 thing sony need to do is drop the prices of the memorycards to be as cheap as sd carts. Now people like me are in the dillema to download titles because of the fear youre memory card has no space. Sony drop it and software will improve

get2sammybAdmin

#2

get2sammyb said:

@Sanquine Completely agree with this. I'm not sure whether retail is demanding the high price of memory cards — this is what happened with the PSP Go, too — but it's clear that lower priced memory cards would allow more people to download more games. I have a 16GB card, and while it's not really putting me off downloading anything, it does irritate me when I have to take games off because I've run out of space. However, I refuse to buy a 32GB because it's just too expensive.

My guess is that retail is making huge margins on the cards, in an effort to make up for "lost" software sales. That's the only thing that makes sense.

PMasterTy9

#3

PMasterTy9 said:

I would buy one right away if that $500 PS4+Vita bundle were true but with a $199 price tag it will have to wait a bit longer since my money is going towards the PS4 first. Either way I am interested in Vita now more than I have ever been.

Sanquine

#4

Sanquine said:

@get2sammyb paid 50 euro for 16 gb ( my other 16 & 8 gb were full) just to download killzone beta.

my only wish for this system are jrpg's. I have noticed i choose any good jrpg above uncharted or something. Being the hero, grinding and becoming stronger. Thats me!

RaymanFan2

#6

RaymanFan2 said:

I'm sad to say, but there's still absolutely nothing on it that I give a damn about, even in the coming soon list.
Sure, there's some stuff that's good on there (and some stuff that's good to come), but nothing I think is worth buying at full price.

Gemuarto

#8

Gemuarto said:

Give me moar indie JRPGs for Vita and TRPGs, too.

2 steps that Sony must make - memory cards prices and more than one account. per one memory card. Or let people buy content from any PSN, using one account. For example, you live in Brazil and can buy games from US, HKD, JP and other PSNs. I really can't understand that idiotic decision with one account. WHYYYYYY?????? People just don't buy Bitas because of that. Somehow, this makes Bita close to E3 Xbox One. even worse than E3 Xbox One, if you ask me. You can do anything with hard copy of the game, but with digital, you can do nothing at all. Just buy. You can't share it with friend, for example. Can't buy game from HKD PSN and play it on your main account. it's like slavery =) If you like digital - you have no rights. So when Sony trolling MS, for me, it is always looks hypocritical, because of Vita =(.

BornOfEvil

#9

BornOfEvil said:

With a $200 price tag, finally saving enough money to buy a Vita should be easy as pie. I'll pick up Mercenary as soon as I get it, then over the next few weeks I'll go pick up Gravity Rush, Soul Sacrifice and all the other must have titles.

belmont

#10

belmont said:

I really enjoy a lot of indie titles like Thomas was Alone and the mini ports but I want more "big" titles. PSP had two Metal Gear games, two God of War games, two Silent Hill games and tons of great jrpg games like Final Fantasy, Star Ocean, Persona, Legend of Heroes and many others. It is time for some of these titles to appear on Vita.

I have a lot of Vita games and is the console I play the most these days. I also have a lot of PSP and PS1 compatible games. I really love my Vita and sometimes I get the impression from the net that I am the only one that likes it so much. It is a good think that software sells. Personally I prefer jrpg games but any good title would work for me.

I have a 3ds but it feels a lot outdated compared with the Vita due to screen, technical capabilities and network features.

Gemuarto

#11

Gemuarto said:

@belmont Bita needs some Bita only indies. Like Escape Plan, for example. But with normal controls. Jorney-like indies, if you ask me. AAA-indies. Magical indies. Must play indies. Right now, only must play indies on PSV are Thomas Was Alone, Sound Shapes and Hotline Mayami. All three are not exclusives. And Escape Plan is just mad, considering that two analogs are Bita's selling point..Sony must port escape Plan to Android.

belmont

#12

belmont said:

@Gemuarto You are right.

I have no idea about gaming on ipad or android so these were exclusives to me anyway. I suppose this is not true for a lot of gamers though. I think that even if someone plays indies on tablet playing them on Vita is better but this is no real reason to buy one. Personally I would buy indie games like Thomas was Alone and it is great for developers to deliver their ideas to us easily.

I believe that an exclusive Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, GTA or a proper Call of Duty Ghosts would persuade more people to buy a Vita than indie games though.

Savino

#13

Savino said:

So... the rumour about a PS4/Vita bundle is closer to be true?
Hell, I am up for a third Vita (will give it to my daughter) for an extra 100!

Enobmah_Shards

#14

Enobmah_Shards said:

Glad the vita will do wonders on the consumers at the 200 price tag. Hopefully this will call on more developers to make games exclusively on the vita. :)

Epic

#15

Epic said:

Well I think there can be a better day /time to buy a Vita.
That day is called Black Friday. :D

BornOfEvil

#16

BornOfEvil said:

@Gemuarto That's how all digital games work, so it's nothing new. Also, Microsoft was taking DRM to the extreme and throwing even more restrictive policies on top of that, so Sony isn't being hypocritical at all.

Ginkgo

#17

Ginkgo said:

Totally agree that now is the time for the Vita to shine.

  • Much better price point. This is not icing, it was critically necessary.
  • Memory cards still an issue (way too small) but prices have improved marginally. 16GB is killing me to manage.
  • Current games catalog is vast, though more "big" titles to come are needed.
  • Indie games are on fire and growing
  • Killzone, Borderlands, Tearaway and Batman are coming. Killzone is critical to its success in the US. If the multiplayer takes off (and it has every possibility) then it will sell systems. Batman has lost some of its shine for me when I realised it was 2.5D rather than 3D. Obviously geared towards the 3Ds and ported to Vita. Oh well. I also needs GT6! But NFS is already great.
  • PS4 around the corner, with remote play etc.
  • It is that time of year, with thanksgiving and Christmas

Honestly, if it can't gain some momentum between now and Feb, then it is really going to struggle for here on. If the number start to improve, then more big developers will jump on board, then its away.

Lionhart

#18

Lionhart said:

Personally, Batman AO Blackgate isn't a title that I'm interested in. I want real home console level games on Vita and Killzone Mercernary, Helldivers, Tearaway and Borderlands 2 are answering that call. Helldivers could be a sign that we could get Diablo III on PS Vita. Borderlands 2 means things like BioShock Infinity and CoD Ghost will eventually come to PS Vita. Murasaki Baby looks like a Tim Burton game and that's a good thing. Indies are nice but we need more triple A games. The key fact is that we must remain patient. I'm sure that in the coming weeks and months we'll see more high quality triple a non port games announced by both first and third party developers.

-CraZed-

#19

-CraZed- said:

If I could buy one today I would. But the wife would kill me. I already have my PS4 on order. I'm gonna have to wait until next year sometime. Hopefully by the time I can get one a newer model will have been launched.

Gamer83

#20

Gamer83 said:

I've played the system a ton since I've owned it. Unfortunately it really is a Dreamcast-like situation though where it has a lot of great games but most are niche and since not enough people are buying it, the big developers won't bring their big franchises. Still as an owner when my main complaint is that I can't get the best memory card for a reasonable price it means something is being done right on the software front, which is all you can ask for.

Gemuarto

#21

Gemuarto said:

@Lelouch nope, only Vita and 3DS are so moronic in terms of digital distribution. Even PS3 lets you buy games from diffirent PSNs and play them on your main account. Vita restrictions are just stupid and don't make any sense. Maybe it's cheap way to make people buy more memory cards or Vitas. The funny thing is that I still can play games bought in HKD or JP PSNs, but need to switch memory cards and reset Vita to do that. why, on earth I can't just do this from menu? What's the point?

Gemuarto

#22

Gemuarto said:

Also, I want HDMI output on Vita. Vita can win some consumers, if they can use it as home console...I really liked to play PSP games on big screen, from time to time.

moomoo

#23

moomoo said:

@Epic You beat me to it. I'm really looking forward to black friday for the Vita. I'm really hoping for some discounts on those memory cards.

moomoo

#25

moomoo said:

@Sanquine Well, for what it's worth, they're making tons of money off of those memory cards. To drop them by a lot (like $30 for the 32 gb) would make it so they have to make money off of software.
Seeing as Sony isn't releasing that much software right now (there's Killzone, Tearaway, and maybe Freedom wars) they'd have to rely on royalties from 3rd parties to make the majority of their money from the Vita. I honestly don't know how much faith Sony has in their product at this point in time. They probably think they wouldn't make enough money to compensate for the drop in memory card prices. I think they're dumb for thinking that, but that's probably what they think.

Kayoss

#26

Kayoss said:

@Lelouch
Dude Gravity Rush is free on the PS Plus right now. Also uncharted and other great games are being offered free right now.

IAmNotWill

#27

IAmNotWill said:

I think it's the worst time actually lol Only because the PS4 is right around the corner. But probably this time next year I'll think about getting one. $200 is really enticing.

Squiggle55

#29

Squiggle55 said:

@sanquine @get2sammyb I haven't gotten to the point yet where I haven't bought a game I wanted to buy because I didn't have space. If I really wanted a game and I was out of space I would delete an older game. I have however deleted a few PS+ games. Are you implying that you have held off on actually buying a specific game because of space?

BornOfEvil

#30

BornOfEvil said:

@Gemuarto Yes, but your HDD is locked to your PS3, so it's not very far off. Could Sony put out a system usage that removes the Vita lock? Yes, but that wouldn't really change much.

@Cirno "welcome to die?" That makes no sense. Also, it's not gonna happen.

baconcow

#31

baconcow said:

Love the upcoming indie titles. Bring me Super Meat Boy, Bastion, Don't Starve, Faster than Light, Braid, and the upcoming Gemcraft game! Then, I will be set for indies!

get2sammybAdmin

#32

get2sammyb said:

@Squiggle55 Nah, personally I wouldn't do that, but I could see why people would be put off because of it. For me, though, it's just an irritation.

Gemuarto

#33

Gemuarto said:

@Lelouch I don't mind memory card locked to Vita. But to account... it is just stupid. I heard a lot of complaints about not be able to use more than one account without reseting PSV. it is just inconvenient for families, for example. When you share Vita with someone or like to play some digital JP games that will never come to the west. PSP had multiple accounts. PSV is more restricted than PSP or PS3. More restricted than steam or iTunes or anything else I know about. People must fight for digital content to be more open. And it will become more open eventually. Evil corporations just using a momentum to cut more from money pie. At least, they think that they are. I think that they are just losing money with all those restrictions. There is always some balance between openess and restrictions. And PSV is a little bit unbalanced now. A little bit inconvinient. And people still can hack leaderboards. LOL... Content manager is annoying, too. Annoying and slow as hell.

Cirno

#36

Cirno said:

@LeLouch 1. "Welcome to die" is a reference to the X-Men arcade game, so I think the informal tone of my comment was ignored here.

2. Pokémon X/Y is a pretty big thing and if Animal Crossing can be such a hit so can Pokémon.

@Sanquine As I am a known PS4 Supporter I wouldn't exactly be a "Nintendo fanboy" now would I?

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