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Column: The Vita problem

The following column is written by IVG community member Ralston Pinto (@rileysnotz) and represent his views alone.

Okay, I’ll be honest. The Playstation Vita is in an awkward place right now. It’s the most powerful gaming handheld, but it’s struggling when you line it up against the Nintendo 3DS. Everyone says the Vita has no games. No one is excited about it. Sony’s own stores are clueless about the device.

ps-vita

From Uncharted: Golden Abyss to LittleBigPlanet Vita to Killzone Mercenary, I’d say the Vita has some great games. Mercenary is, in my opinion, the best entry in the series after Killzone 2. But if you take a quick look at a lot of gaming sites, you’ll find a million articles proclaiming the death of the Vita and Sony’s lack of support. Even Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida said there will be less first-party support and this was later reiterated by SCEE’s Jim Ryan. This has led to widespread panic among the Vita faithful, especially those that expected a lot more support from Sony for this incredible but surprisingly underappreciated device.

“Even Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida said there will be less first-party support.”

So is the death of the Vita imminent? To put it simply, not really. While both Yoshida and Ryan did say there would be fewer first-party games, that doesn’t mean all support would stop. Increasing reliability on indies and third-party titles is in no way a bad thing. So far, there have been some excellent entries like OlliOlli, Hotline Miami, Lone Survivor, Steamworld Dig, Child Of Light and many more. There’s also Freedom Wars, Murasaki Baby, and other highly anticipated titles to come. So the argument that the Vita does not have games is essentially flawed. It has tons of games, though a lot of them niche Japanese titles and indies that a lot gamers are reluctant to try. Believe me, I know. I was one of them till I got a Vita. It’s opened my eyes.

killzone-mercenary-002

So what’s the panic about? For one, everyone’s upset about Sony’s E3 2014 conference Vita snub. What everyone has seemingly forgotten is that historically, Sony has never really promoted the Vita or its predecessor the PSP heavily at E3, leaving most of the announcements and games for Gamescom and TGS. However, Sony does need to promote the Vita and let people know they still value it. They need to talk about it more often and address that lack of visibility. The second thing is something that I mentioned before about indies and niche titles. When someone says you need to own a Vita to understand it, that’s exactly what it means. It’s hard to explain some of the experiences to non-Vita owning gamers.

“The companion device selling point is a bitter pill to swallow seeing as the Vita itself retails for Rs 16,990 here.”

So what can Sony do to correct the mindset of these non-Vita owning gamers? My answer would be to showcase the Vita’s great games, talk about upcoming titles on a regular basis, and stop selling it as a companion to the PS4. The companion device selling point is a bitter pill to swallow seeing as the Vita itself retails for Rs 16,990 here. That’s rather steep for a companion device. Instead, Sony should look at promoting the Vita by using an idea like Nintendo Direct. It’s something that’s been suggested by The Vita Lounge and you should read about it here.

nintendo-direct-001

Eventually the Vita will live on. It’s got the games. The only problem it faces is lack of exposure; something that Sony can and should address. If you own a Vita and undoubtedly love it, support #PSVitaDirect on Twitter. For those of you who don’t, borrow one and try out some games. You may just turn into a believer like me.

IVG community members can also submit their original articles via the Write for Us section on the forums, and we’ll feature the ones we love here.

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