PlayStation Vita's Software Line-Up Is More Than Console Ports.

I wanted to gauge the implications of the price-cut on PlayStation Vita, particularly from the people that matter: the fans and potential consumers. The news won't have filtered through to the mainstream audience just yet, but it will do when Mario Kart and a newly trimmed $169 Nintendo 3DS is competing for shelf space against ModNation Racers and a $249 PlayStation Vita. The general consensus seems to suggest that this price discrepancy puts Sony in an awkward position. Like PlayStation 3 before it, the platform holder has to fight off a cheaper, more accessible system. But I'm not entirely sure Sony and Nintendo are competing for the same demographics. At least not yet.

The 3DS price-cut will undoubtedly raise Nintendo's hardware sales. If it doesn't, the company is in more trouble than has previously been touted. But that doesn't take anything away from the Vita's chances. Granted Sony is once again targeting a niche, enthusiast market — but it's clearly learned a lot from its mistakes during the PSP era. The Vita is a swiss-army knife of gameplay potential, as well as an open-book in terms of distribution methods. People are openly opting to ignore the strides Sony's taken with its online infrastructure [outages aside! - Ed], and fundamental features such as the PlayStation Network will ensure Sony's able to deliver just as many bite-sized applications as full products.

One argument I see lofted against the PlayStation Vita time and time again is a stigma that's derived from the PlayStation Portable. PlayStation Vita only does console spin-offs. It's simply untrue when you look at the vast array of content Sony's announced for the PlayStation Vita. Granted Uncharted: Golden Abyss might be the title giving people this impression — but even then rumblings outside of Sony Bend and Naughty Dog themselves suggest that the prequel will be adaptable to the Vita due to a heavier emphasis on exploration.

Still, people aren't giving Sony enough credit for the line-up it's announced for PlayStation Vita. There's no God Of War, The Getaway or Ratchet & Clank in sight; instead Sony's opted for franchises that do appeal to a handheld device. Franchises that do have pick-up-and-play accessibility, but also depth and value far beyond the best iOS releases.

LittleBigPlanet Vita, for example, has been described by a variety of outlets as a "franchise that's found its home". An accessible 2D platformer at its core, LittleBigPlanet adds depth through its variety of creation tools that will take advantage of the PlayStation Vita's unique array of input options. A similar narrative can be painted for ModNation Racers. Yes, it's true that both of these games are derived from franchises on home consoles — but so is Super Mario. It doesn't stop the games from making appealing handheld experiences.

Similar arguments can be made for Everybody's Golf, Super Stardust Delta, Hustle Kings, Touch Darts and Sound Shapes. Indeed the latter four titles provide a unique topic of dicussion as they are unlikely to be sold as retail products, opting to leverage the retail environment Sony's developed with the PlayStation Network and provide accessible experiences at a low price point.

My argument is such: outside of Uncharted: Golden Abyss none of the exclusive content Sony's announced for the PlayStation Vita is unsuitable for a handheld system. So why does this stigma exist and what can Sony do to counter it?

The marketing is going to be key — and I think it's one of the reasons Sony opted for the "Vita" name as opposed to PlayStation Portable 2. The PSP does carry this label of "watered down console ports" and it's something Sony desperately needs to shed. It's certainly a problem when the Vita is being tarnished with this reputation even though the software line-up antithesises the mentality entirely.

Still, it's an irritating and lazy criticism of a system that appears to correct everything that was poorly received about the PlayStation Portable. The variety of input options when coupled with the selective software line-up should give PlayStation Vita room to breathe away from its home-console counterpart, and that's the most intelligent thing Sony's achieved with the Vita thus far. Now it needs to communicate that.

The price discrepancy is going to make PlayStation Vita a challenging argument in a mainstream environment, but Sony needs to lock down the enthusiasts first. If it can build up a solid software base, then it can work on marketing towards a more mainstream audience in the future. Has that market now been consumed by smart-phones and MP3 players? Possibly — but surely that hurts Nintendo's family market more than Sony's more specific audience.

It’s rumoured that “Twiggy” has spent the past several months touring with avant-garde dance troupe Cirque Du Soleil. The anonymous PushSquare columnist is still on the run from the British monarchy on account of treason. “Twiggy” was last sighted eating an Asda branded ham and cheese sandwich in Grimsby.