Talking Point: What Does E3 2014 Tell Us About the Future of the PlayStation Vita?
Posted by Sammy Barker
Ask a non-gamer to yawn through Sony’s meaty E3 2014 press conference, and they’ll probably come away with the assumption that the Japanese giant is a single console manufacturer. Much like Microsoft before it, the PlayStation 3 barely registered as a blip during its media briefing, and the PlayStation Vita only obtained a share of the limelight while the firm flaunted the potential of Remote Play – a feature rendered utterly useless unless you own a PlayStation 4. But does that mean that the organisation is more or less finished with its flagging portable platform?
That certainly appears to be the takeaway from the format’s biggest fans, who no doubt spent much of this week’s media briefing patiently waiting for Gravity Rush 2’s logo to appear on the company’s sizeable cinema screen. Alas, there was no cameo from Kat and crew, and even the platform holder’s microconsole – known in Japan as the PS Vita TV – seemed unwilling to burden itself with the branding of its technologically comparable contemporary, plumping up for the much more marketable PlayStation TV moniker instead. It certainly doesn’t look good, does it?
But as with recent years, you need to scratch beneath the surface to get to the good stuff, and there’s no shortage of that. Sony’s press conference may have been utterly dominated by the uber-popular PS4, but its booth is awash with a wealth of pocketable goodness. Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, and Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited are just a trio of the titles taking the spotlight, and there are dozens more. First-party foray Freedom Wars is garnering some seriously positive write-ups, while Murasaki Baby continues to look curiouser and curiouser.
The most impressive thing is the breadth of content: there’s everything from music festival management in BigFest to stylish espionage in CounterSpy – and even Metrico’s infographic action in between. Some of the games are exclusives, some are cross-buy, and others are ports – but in the case of Hohokum, Hotline Miami 2, and Home, they’re all releases that this author would rather play illuminated by the glow of a five-inch screen, rather than in the glare of a widescreen television.
We do get it: you want a commitment from the console manufacturer that it cares. There’s a consensus around the web that the variety of indie titles should very much be the cherry on the top of a triple-layer AAA cake, and we can very much appreciate that thought. With launch titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and spin-offs such as Killzone: Mercenary, the platform holder teased the potential of blockbusters in your bum bag, and it hasn’t really followed through with that vision since Tearaway tanked harder than a paper plane with a hole in each wing.
But, Media Molecule’s abovementioned exclusive aside, those titles haven’t really been the highlights as far as this editor’s concerned. They’re all great games, of that there’s no doubt, but we’d rather blast through The Binding of Isaac in bed than Borderlands 2. Of course, the platform holder’s predicament is comparable to a chicken and an egg: you need the blockbusters to draw people in, but with such a small install base, the big games are becoming harder to woo.
And unless the forthcoming port of Minecraft touches the machine with its money printing magic, we’re not expecting the put upon hardware to suddenly light up the charts. But that doesn’t mean that existing owners won’t be well serviced in the months to come; indie evangelist Shahid Ahmad recently pointed out on Twitter that he’s working on over 70 games, and if the attach rate remains as impressive as sources suggest, we don’t think that smaller studios will be skipping on the system any time soon.
It all depends if that’s what you want from the device. If the varied roster of bite sized titles aren’t holding your attention like a big blockbuster, then you may find that your interest in the system is about to sag. However, if you’re willing to indulge in the many indie experiments on the way, then you’re unlikely to run out of things to play. In all, we’ll refrain from claiming that the future looks bright, but it certainly doesn’t look any bleaker in the afterglow of this week’s big show. And if anything, the sheer variety of experiences on offer looks greater than ever.
What do you make of the current state of the Vita? Were you disappointed by the lack of announcements at E3, or were you expecting the machine to have a muted presence? Are you satisfied with the selection of indie titles, or are you waiting for something to really sink your teeth into? Pick a side in the comments section below.
What’s your current assessment of the Vita? (77 votes)
I love it and I’m looking forward to lots of forthcoming titles
I’m neither satisfied nor dissatisfied really
It’s not for me anymore and I’m considering selling mine soon
I don’t actually own one
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