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Talking Point: Has Sony's Dithering Turned Off PS Vita TV's Chances?

Posted by Sammy Barker

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As expected, Amazon broadcast its arrival into the microconsole space today. The straightforwardly named Fire TV is a miniscule set top box designed to stream media applications such as Netflix and Hulu to your television. However, in addition to being a conduit for video content, the miniscule machine can also be upgraded with a gamepad, allowing you to play smartphone-esque titles with more traditional button-based controls. It’s a concept that sounds similar to Sony’s own PS Vita TV – but has the platform holder’s hesitation prompted the Japanese giant’s solution to lose signal?

Despite only being announced for Japan initially, there was plenty of pent-up demand for the PlayStation maker’s own Ouya-inspired unit late last year. Inundated with requests about the device, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida cleverly told consumers to “stay tuned” for a Western release. Alas, it’s been over six months since the diminutive device’s announcement, and there’s still no word on a North American or European launch. Group president Andrew House admitted in December that the platform has “strong market potential”, but that’s the last that we heard.

It would seem, then, that the manufacturer has been pipped to the post. When the market was occupied by little other than the Roku or Apple TV, the PlayStation maker’s intrinsic ability to pair games with media may have been a selling point. However, that’s something that Amazon’s box is now already doing, with its newly established Game Studios division comprising of Strider developer Double Helix and high-profile employees such as Portal creator Kim Swift and Ubisoft luminary Clint Hocking.

With Sony opting to sit on the PS Vita TV hardware outside of Japan, it may ultimately end up regretting its indecisiveness

Sony, of course, also has an impressive roster of developers on its pay roll, but the PS Vita TV’s approach to gaming appears muddled in a post-Fire TV planet. While the Japanese giant’s microconsole is technically capable of playing releases such as Soul Sacrifice, Killzone: Mercenary, and the God of War: Collection, its association with the manufacturer’s portable platform means that titles such as Tearaway – which rely heavily on touchscreen interfaces – simply won’t function on the format. It’s an oversight that House and crew perhaps recognised when looking overseas.

However, we can’t help but feel that it’s still missed an opportunity. The manufacturer’s biggest competitor in the microconsole space last year would have been the Ouya – a device which has struggled to establish itself outside of the initial wave of Kickstarter supporters. With a strong selection of apps – many of which are already available in the firm’s ecosystem – and well communicated software support, it could have been enjoying the attention that Fire TV is currently commanding over six months ago. Instead, the market just became even more challenging to penetrate.

Alas, the one ace up its figurative sleeve remains cloud streaming service PlayStation Now. Amazon’s own device may be able to go toe-to-toe with the PS Vita TV in overall multimedia functionality, but unless the platform holder opts to provide access to its on-demand gaming platform on competing appliances, then its own solution may have a compelling trump card. After all, we doubt that you’ll be playing experiences of The Last of Us, Puppeteer, or God of War: Ascension’s quality on a Fire TV anytime soon.

Still, we suppose it remains to be seen whether that’s even a selling point for the audience most likely to invest in a microconsole – or, indeed, whether there’s even a market at all. As already alluded, the Ouya has flopped beyond its initial wave of crowdfunding, and despite the logo on its packaging, even the Apple TV has struggled to make an impact worldwide. However, with Sony opting to sit on the PS Vita TV hardware outside of Japan, it may ultimately end up regretting its indecisiveness if the Fire TV takes off in a big way.


Do you think that Sony has missed an opportunity to establish the PS Vita TV in Western territories? Can the diminutive device compete with Amazon’s Fire TV, or has the ship all but sailed on the system? Tune in courtesy of the comments section below.

Do you think that Sony should still release the PS Vita TV overseas? (68 votes)

Yes, I still really want one

50%

Hmm, I’m not sure

21%

No, the opportunity’s gone

29%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (35)

JaxonH

#1

JaxonH said:

Amazon needed to aquire Double Helix for THAT? Well, I'll give em credit- they're really going all out for a little micro-console. All the evidence was pointing toward a full-blown console release.

As for the Vita TV, not interested. I'd rather play Vita games on Vita, and I don't need to stream my PS4. The TV it's hooked up to is perfectly capable. Besides, I can always stream to Vita if I really needed...

get2sammybAdmin

#2

get2sammyb said:

@JaxonH Yeah, they've got a ton of first-party games in production. I must admit, I also find it a bit weird. Good on them for going all in, but I wonder how long those developers will last...

Heiki

#3

Heiki said:

I'm not particularly interested in the Vita TV (I'd rather play Vita games on the handheld), but I think Sony still has the advantage here... Playing crappy smartphone games on the big screen doesn't appeal to me at all, while the Vita has a GREAT selection of real games.

gbanas92Staff

#4

gbanas92 said:

I've never been too big on handheld gaming (except Pokémon from time to time), so I'd still welcome it as there are quite a few games, like Tearaway, Gravity Rush, and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, I'd want to play. Although if that Uncharted PS4 collection that popped up a couple months back comes to fruition, that would certainly soften the blow. Or maybe they could work up some clever way around the heavily touch reliant controls of some vita games by implementing Project Morpheus! Although, logistically, I don't think it'd be worth it.

PMasterTy9

#5

PMasterTy9 said:

I still think there is a market for the Vita TV and I would use it to play some Vita games and they did mention that it would also do Remote Play so you can plug your Vita TV into another room and play your PS4 while the other TV is in use.

get2sammybAdmin

#6

get2sammyb said:

@gbanas92 The problem with PS Vita TV is that you wouldn't be able to play Uncharted or Tearaway because there's no touch screen. I don't think Morpheus would solve the problem!

BornOfEvil

#8

BornOfEvil said:

The Vita TV could control the market if Sony released it in the West, especially once it got PSNOW support. I'm still hopeful that Sony will get the message and make an announcement, if so, I'll pre-order 2.

Gamer83

#9

Gamer83 said:

Sony blew its chance though honestly I don't think that's a bad thing. Don't need anymore useless devices. Sony really needs to get its priorities in order. Same goes for this whole VR crap. Spend the money that it doesn't have on marketing and getting some big third party exclusives and get the first party situation straightened out. Otherwise prepare to start looking up at MS as far as sales in the coming months.

thedevilsjester

#10

thedevilsjester said:

There is no option on the poll for "They should never have created the device in the first place". One more device to hook up to my TV? No thanks.

kensredemption

#12

kensredemption said:

I'd like to be able to play Vita games on my TV, if only to have a better alternative to lazily dangling a handheld barely centimeters from my face.

HandheldGuru97

#13

HandheldGuru97 said:

Personally I'm not sure Sony really knows what to do with the Vita in general. Is it a micro console that can be hooked up the the TV and enjoyed in full HD??? Is it a 2nd screen/crazy expensive accessory to the PS3/4???? Or is it a dedicated handheld with a unique library, competing directly against the 3DS??? Personally I just want it to stay a handheld and be a handheld. Sony is trying and trying to make it relevant, I think that chance has come and gone. Still that won't stop me from enjoying it, I may only have 4 games thus far, but I definitely see the potential...as a handheld, not an accessory or microconsole. That's what I want from Sony on the Vita a handheld that is just...a handheld.

iSolipsistJudas

#14

iSolipsistJudas said:

Yea they should in order to expand in the micro-console market. It's seriously worth a shot as already having an establishment of PS4's around the world.

charlesnarles

#15

charlesnarles said:

Lots of people I know have Apple TVs, there's definitely a market for the tech/service combo. I'd love a Vita TV even after/while owning an Apple TV cause of playing Vita games with a ds3

Epic

#16

Epic said:

I'm in a meh state, the problem with the Vita TV is that it still has most of the PS Vita Limitations and has even more due to the fact some of the games still require touchpad/touchscreen input but still are getting a solid gaming expirience.
BUT There's also the fact is a really cheap maching considering its almost even at the same foot as Amazon TV, for the same price you get a PS Vita TV Bundle with the controller and Memory card you can what FireTV is offering with the controller and still have some few bucks to spare for the fact the it doesnt come with an HDMI Cable.

I think it has an appeal for those that want to mainly game on it but also wants a cheap media hub but for those taking the media side as a priority it would be a mroe wiser decision to go with the FireTV.

Madd_Hatter401

#17

Madd_Hatter401 said:

I was very suprised by the votes, happy to see people being unbiased. I have a vita and I have a roku so I would not buy vita tv.. for those who do not have a vita or a roku type product this product would be great but I feel it wouldn't do nearly well enough. More emphasis NEEDS to be put on games for the vita well before this is considered in my opinion. Im still waiting on a western RPG.

denpa-ben

#18

denpa-ben said:

I'd prefer it if Sony just made a way for me to plug my Vita directly into my TV - like a home/portable hybrid console.

TheWightMonk

#19

TheWightMonk said:

Vita tv had one massive plus, the ability to remote screen on a big screen with the ps4! No more arguments regarding "but I want to watch the real house wives of.........," when I'd sooner drill my eyes and ears out with my rechargeable drill! I could happily go up stairs and play ps4 while the mrs watches girly stuff :)

-CraZed-

#20

-CraZed- said:

Honestly I didn't see what chance VitaTV had even before the latest Amazon announcement.

Even though consoles and "dedicated' gaming devices are becoming more robust in terms of their functionality I still think they have a long way to go before they are going to be looked at for their streaming capabilities by the masses.
Vita TV would be a niche for sure while Amazon's Fire TV is right up there with Roku or Apple TV in terms of how it is perceived. Vita TV was DOA IMHO. A cool device for sure but just doesn't have the mindshare that Amazon can muster behind its products ATM.

Itachi

#21

Itachi said:

Sony was smart to keep the Vita TV only in Japan. The sales would have flopped and I actually think it would have also confused the messaging of PS4. With Vita still struggling to catch on to a wide fanbase the Vita TV would have been DOA.

Zombie_Barioth

#22

Zombie_Barioth said:

I think the Vita TV has a market outside Japan, but they need to get the Vita going first. No sense in rolling out a new version going "look, we have another" when people have hardly grasped the original.

They should try to make a new Vita model that allows you to dock it, hook it up to a TV, and grab a controller like the PSP Go. That would even work better in Japan since they would sorta be selling them both a handheld and a console in one.

Jazzer94

#23

Jazzer94 said:

I feel that the chance is gone, unless Sony get more games behind the system it will be a tough sell.

ReigningSemtex

#24

ReigningSemtex said:

To be honest I think Sony has missed it's chance I want to get a vita for some of the excellent games but for my tv's I would rather have something like the fire tv purely because it will be a much more open system and allow me to install apps from the play store as well as all the other apps that I currently use my other consoles for. Fire tv could be a great little media center after a few app installs :)

artemisthemp

#25

artemisthemp said:

PS Vita TV would allow users to finally record Vita gameplay via HDMI, which makes it a great device for Youtuber's

rjejr

#26

rjejr said:

Thought about FireTV a lot yesterday in regards to it actually being Wii U competition rather than Vita TV.

http://www.nintendolife.com/forums/wii-u/amazon_fire_tv_new_wii_u_competition

Hey, dont laugh, it stacks up pretty well against Wii U.

1. FireTV will have more advertitisng as it's the new Amazon start up screen:
http://www.amazon.com/ref=gno_logo
2. Fire TV cool TV ad:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CX5P8FC/ref=amb_link_1?pf_rd_m=AT...
(if "Find Gary Busey" doesnt make you laugh ...)
3. Fire Tv $99 vs. Wii U $299
4. Fire TV has Minecraft - don't laugh b/c it's the $6.99 Pocket ed., people will still buy it for that
5. Fire TV will have Pandora
6. Fire TV controller costs $39.99: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DU0ZI8Q
7. Fire TV games have Leaderboards - see above
8. Wired Ethernet and optical audio out. (Lack of these 2 almost made me not buy a Wii U so I noticed.)
9. FireTV.com is a porn site. Maybe Wii U needs a porn channel?

thedevilsjester

#27

thedevilsjester said:

@HandheldGuru97 that's the thing, we don't all want the same thing. I don't want the Vita to be a handheld on its own merits. I don't want it to have any games not on the PS3/PS4. I want it to be an accessory and a way to play/continue my console games on the go. Sony is trying to appeal to both you and me.

rjejr

#28

rjejr said:

On topic - nice article.

One thing Vita TV has going for it, it's a dongle, not a box. Sony can just stick the dongle in the PS4 box at little or no additional cost and market it as a streaming "2nd tv for PS4" device that also has the benefit of letting you play Vita games.

Or similar to what @Zombie_Barioth said, bundle it w/ the Vita itself as a controller, not a DS3/4, and market it as an all-in-one Vita handheld and tv device, that can, you know, actually play ALL the Vita games on the TV as well as stream movies and tv. Really, what it SHOULD have been in the first place, a dongle in the Vita box. (wow that came out sexual, completely not intended, I swear.)

Hongo

#29

Hongo said:

Yes and no. Vita TV is still very attractive, although I'm likely biased due to owning an imported model. While limited and gimped, you can see the potential if there was a real push with it.

That said, Vita TV was announced back in September. We are now in April. The old way of announcing products and piddle crapping around on it for over half a year allows the competition to get a one up on you.

Vita TV received a FW update to support DS4 back last week, so it's compliant. Patch the biggest Vita sellers to support it and set it up with the PS4 kiosk, demonstrating the ecosystem that is possible.

Plus, with PS1 classics and PSP titles, it already has more appealing titles than Fire TV or a Roku does. Market it with nostalgia for the West, with a bundled game, built in 8 GB flash memory and have it available in black, while pushing the fact that PS Now will grant you even more gaming possibilities down the road.

It still has a chance. The PlayStation name is on a high streak now. Take chance or don't bother at all if we are still here a year from now.

The fact that Nintendo and SCEI, people who actually make games, are letting these other, less involved companies stomp all over them, both angers and concerns a fan like me.

get2sammybAdmin

#30

get2sammyb said:

@rjejr I actually agree, the Fire TV does look like a tempting proposition. I'm not entirely convinced whether it'll have the appeal to unsettle the 'proper' consoles - and I'm lumping the Wii U into that, of course - but it'll be interesting to see how it performs. It's definitely an interesting little box.

rjejr

#31

rjejr said:

@get2sammyb - "whether it'll have the appeal to unsettle the 'proper' consoles"

Here's my thoughts on that from last night (sorry if you already read it):

"Everybody who games on a platform w/ superior "specs" always says the lower spec system isn't competition. Of course the FireTV isn't a Wi U competitor. Until it proves it is." ..."If and when Amazon decides to promote this as a "home gaming console" competitor, rather than a streaming box w/ game controller sold separately, then I think they have the muscle, money and clout to make it be one."..."Remember when Xbox joined the fray? It didn't do too well. Xbox360 did better. Ask Sony."

OK, done plagiarizing myself now.

Glad to see you covered FireTV, newly promoted TW skipped it - is he your boss now? - which is why I started that thread.

Last point - FireTV may not be proper competition, as of yet, but it IS a real thing, unlike Facebook Rift and Morpheous which are still just vapor and will continue to be for some time. I think you did your due diligence covering it. No knock on TW, he's still the man.

Diddy_kong

#32

Diddy_kong said:

I never really understood the appeal of this device to begin with. I'm perfectly happy playing my Vita games on the ol' OLED screen. And as Sammy pointed out earlier, games like Tearaway can't be played without the touch pad/screen anyways.

Jaz007

#33

Jaz007 said:

@get2sammyb But couldn't the Dualahock 4's touchpad solve the problem of the touch screen? And maybe a few reworked controls with an update?

Kage_88

#34

Kage_88 said:

Nah, Vita TV is dead in the water, IMO - especially with Sony's plans for PS Now.

Punished_Boss

#35

Punished_Boss said:

Sony not caring has turned off any chance of PS Vita TV coming west.

But they will bring it over when the time is right or odd.

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