Editorial

PS Vita: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Good
The PS Vita is easily the most powerful handheld gaming system to date. It boasted better than usual launch titles as well.

The Bad

It has been widely reported that the PS Vita's sales as of late are not only the worst they have ever been, they are downright dismal. If the Vita stays on track to be an utter failure, those of us who seek a true mobile gaming experience are doomed to gameplay mechanics that afford us the luxury to play games with one hand while wiping our bum, flushing the toilet and tweeting how great the game is all with our other hand. Not that I have ever done such things.

All kidding aside, I am not kidding. The game mechanics on mobile games, at least the ones I believe are enjoyable to play, are incredibly simplistic. No doubt they work for these types of games. However as soon as virtual analog sticks are introduced to the mix, mobile gaming (more often than not) goes from fun to play to the epitome of an exercise in absolute futility.

Keep in mind not including current generation mobile gaming, I have had many, many, many frustrating gaming experiences due to clunky controls over the years. I have after all been gaming since the release of the Atari 2600, which for those of you who were not around for it, was the gold standard for clunky controls. With that in mind, when the discussion turns to this generation of mobile gaming, none of my clunky control experiences have been so utterly infuriating as trying to play Grand Theft Auto III on my iPad 2 which incorporates a virtual analog stick control scheme. After no less then 20 failed attempts on the very first story mission where you get a gun entitled "pump-action pimp," I never touched the game again. All you have to do is shoot two guys that get out of a car on foot. That is literally it. What should have been a one and done mission forced me to stop playing GTA III on my iPad 2 for good. I sincerely never touched it again. Five dollars not so well spent.

I know some are immediately going to point out the fact an XBox 360 controller can be hooked up to an iPad for the ultimate in gaming bliss. My counter argument would be that simply does not count if we are indeed talking about mobile gaming. Key word being mobile. Good luck trying to whip that whole setup out at work on a boring conference call all while trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. Not that I would know about trying to game at work while on a boring conference call. One could lose their job over such actions, and therefore I neither condone it nor admit to partaking in such juvenile behavior. I am merely speculating on just how difficult it would be if one chose to do such a thing.

Do not get me wrong, the simplistic type of mobile games when done right indeed have their place. Jetpack Joyride, Tiny Wings and Bejeweled 2 all for quite some time now happen to be my favorites for gaming on the go. I truly enjoy them. However I feel these games cannot be compared to the likes of a Rayman Origins, Uncharted Golden Abyss, or Wipeout 2048 on the Vita, just to name the standouts. The former mobile games I mentioned are quick time killers. The latter Vita games are  full-fledged gaming experiences that could just as easily be on the consoles. In fact in some cases, they are virtually identical to their console counterparts.

Perhaps this is the reason people are staying far away from the Vita right now. I totally get the mentality of why does one need to purchase a dedicated mobile gaming system that currently appears to offer up the same games one can already play on their console. I get that. This is one area Sony needs to step up their game, and they need to do so quickly. They have Escape Plan, a Vita exclusive, which indicates they can indeed offer unique gaming experiences on the Vita. Unfortunately there are not many other games along these lines on the Vita right now. Sound Shapes being one of the ones I know of off the top of my head.

The Ugly

Then of course there is the issue of price. The combined amount I spent on the three mobile centric games that I mentioned above still is only one-third the cost of Escape Plan. People are now used to only paying a dollar or two for mobile gaming experience. Five dollars at best. Escape Plan currently costs $15. Never-mind the fact the low-end model of the Vita, the WiFi only version, currently retails for $250. That price does not include the prerequisite proprietary memory card one has to purchase in order to download games onto the Vita. Add that into the mix, and the Vita is roughly the same cost as a full-fledged PS3, in fact it can be more expensive if you get the largest size memory card. Hell, just typing that out right now makes me second-guess my decision to pick up a Vita. Even though I am thoroughly happy with my purchase and do not regret getting a Vita at launch, I cannot argue the price of admission is ridiculous at best.

It is fairly obvious what Sony needs to do from this point forward to have any sort of fighting chance with the Vita itself. For starters, it needs a price drop, desperately. While they are dropping the prices of the hardware, they also need to offer better pricing for games as well. The Uncharted game made exclusively for the Vita is $50 retail. While it may be a great game that is absolute madness when considering what Sony is competing with as far as pricing for mobile gaming. One could literally purchase fifty $1 games for iOS. Lets even use $5 iOS games for our example. 1 Uncharted game still equals 10 iOS games at $5 each.

If not for the marquee name tied to the game itself, Uncharted: Golden Abyss would have never sold. The fact Uncharted Golden Abyss did sell at that price is something Sony should be very grateful for and at concurrently be absolutely ashamed of. The title for all intents and purposes is the flagship launch title of the Vita, and if they had any sort of business acumen, it should have been priced fairly and accordingly. Instead they decided to take complete advantage of the fact they knew it would sell at that price to a very small amount of dedicated gamers of the series. $30 is in my opinion the sweet spot for full-fledged Vita titles. $25 sounds even better actually. $50, that is just insanity.

In Conclusion
The ball is in your court Sony. Keep in mind it is a court that is dominated by the smaller more nimble players in town. If you keep on insisting on the fact that you are the big player in town that cannot be beat, you will lose this game much sooner than later. That is completely ignoring the fact you may have indeed already lost it.

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10 Comments

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I really like the Vita itself - excellent hardware and interface, thing thats letting it down for me is simply the lack of any new games since launch. There has been nothing apart from I think one PSN game, even the 3DS had new titles released weekly.

Byron_Hinson said,
I really like the Vita itself - excellent hardware and interface, thing thats letting it down for me is simply the lack of any new games since launch. There has been nothing apart from I think one PSN game, even the 3DS had new titles released weekly.

i agree - this is my only gripe w/ the Vita. i managed to get my Vita, games and memory card pretty cheap (gift cards) so the price wasnt a concern. now, though, ive played Escape Plan, U:GA, and several demos. there's nothing left until more games come out. i want to play Resistance, but im not going to pay $40 for it. I want to buy Rayman Origins, but im not paying full price for that either. for me, i need another AAA title, like U:GA, to get me to pay full price. what else is coming out in the next couple months?

(update) well, imo, there are only 2 games coming out in the next few months that look even remotely interesting - Resistance and Gravity Rush. where are all the big games??????

Jdawg683 said,

i agree - this is my only gripe w/ the Vita. i managed to get my Vita, games and memory card pretty cheap (gift cards) so the price wasnt a concern. now, though, ive played Escape Plan, U:GA, and several demos. there's nothing left until more games come out. i want to play Resistance, but im not going to pay $40 for it. I want to buy Rayman Origins, but im not paying full price for that either. for me, i need another AAA title, like U:GA, to get me to pay full price. what else is coming out in the next couple months?

(update) well, imo, there are only 2 games coming out in the next few months that look even remotely interesting - Resistance and Gravity Rush. where are all the big games??????


Even though I say I am not a fan of the pricing, I do strongly suggest shelling out the money for Rayman Origins, especially if you did not play it when it was released on the consoles. It is the best game on the system so far IMO.

And agreed, Resistance and Gravity Rush are the only games on my radar as well pretty much. I am also a tad interested in Mortal Kombat, but renting it first. Renting all of them first actually.

Good review, and glad I read it tonight in fact. I was at GameStop earlier and picked up a used PSP for my nephew's birthday. I checked out the Vita and considered it. This editorial has made my mind up, to not touch this device at all.

I still have a good time on my android with Bubble Blast 2, and Inotia 3 RPG. I realized that I really don't need another handheld device, other than my galaxy phone. I'm not going to say pure handheld gaming is dying, but in a sense it is, considering my phone offers me some great games for almost nothing, and I get hours upon hours, sometimes days, of enjoyment. I don't dig the 3DS, because it gives me a slight headache, but I do love the games. I think after researching a bit on both pure handheld gaming devices, I'd go with the 3DS though.

But all in all, I'm now realizing I don't need to have either. Phones won't ever replace consoles, but I definitely see them replacing handhelds. Also, paying the same price for a handheld pure gaming device, as a console, is absurd to me. I know my experience isn't the same as others, but I use these devices as a, what's the word... Holdover, to when I can game on my PC or console. I guess I don't take them completely seriously. I play them when I am in bed, or in a hotel on business, on the toilet, on a plane, etc... They are quick, easy, and fun (my phone games I mean.) And I am going to have my phone on me either way, Why carry another device that takes up space now, when I can do it with one device?

Edited by Perfect72, Apr 22 2012, 3:03am :

They should be selling the memory chips at cost or a loss given that they enable the consumer to buy more content. Instead of buying a system then games, you now have this "middle man" called memory that you will be nickled and dimed for.

article said
in fact it can be more expensive if you get the largest size memory card.

Indeed. Why pay around 100 dollars to get a 32GB memory card? It's insane!

I'm fine with the price of the unit, but lower the cost of the memory sticks and games! Played wipeout in Best Buy and I was impressed till I saw the price of everything I'd need.

It's pretty bad when the good of the system can be summed up in a mere 2 sentences.

Also, one can't help but notice this article believes that if the vita flops, there's no alternative proper handheld gaming device to go to.

Blackhearted said,
It's pretty bad when the good of the system can be summed up in a mere 2 sentences.

Also, one can't help but notice this article believes that if the vita flops, there's no alternative proper handheld gaming device to go to.


It was intentional summarizing the Good in two sentences. To emphasize the bad and ugly that much more. To be fair, it is a pretty damn good two sentences. And the truth of the matter is I truly do enjoy the Vita myself. I think it is damn near brilliant. I just feel it is a shame other people are not enjoying it, and this editorial was to point out why I primarily feel this is the case.

And I make no mention of any of Nintendo's handhelds as I really do not think they have all that much to do with the Vita not being a success. Sure they may sway a few people from getting a Vita, but as I share, I really feel it is the emergence of mobile gaming that makes the Vita a real tough sell. They are indeed proper alternatives, but not nearly as proper is the Vita. It is the handheld that I believe offers the closest console like experience in your hands. This is why I do enjoy it so much, and full disclosure why I also hope it eventually does succeed, as I want to enjoy it for a good time to come.

You forgot to mention how the Vita requires crappy software to be installed on PC to even transfer files to vita and the crappy drm Sony uses.