Editorial: Why the PlayStation Vita isn't selling

The PlayStation Vita launched on December 17th in Japan last year, and whilst many are happy with their products, something is still lacking in Sony’s will to sell its newest portable games console.

For many, the Vita is essentially close-to-par with home consoles and more or less meets their needs for a high-end portable gaming experience, but at the same time completely ignores the fact that various things need to be improved to ensure the console’s success.

This is a different story for me, as the PlayStation Vita isn’t so fun on my end. My displeasure in Sony’s handheld console set in one month after I had reviewed it for Neowin earlier on in the year. The problem for me lies in the software line-up, limitations with PlayStation Network accounts and the fact that some of the features advertised for the Vita won’t come until a weeks’ time on August 28th when Sony’s mandatory firmware update is picked up on by Vita consoles worldwide.

The fact it has taken Sony so long to incorporate what I’d consider the fundamentals of a successor to previous hardware is simply unacceptable, and as a consumer, I feel cheated out of good money. I had actually paid double the price for a Vita due to import costs – I even bought two of them despite that, and then gave one out on my personal Twitter in early February.

Do not get me wrong; when you have a game that looks as good as Uncharted: Golden Abyss (pictured above) running on a portable console with a beautiful 5-inch OLED display, it’s hard to flaw the console, but when the same console doesn’t ship with the ability to play original PlayStation games, then Sony will find itself in a problem with consumers who already have their collection of PS1 games downloaded and no means to play or use the content – especially when it was advertised to do so.

Even PlayStation Portable games underwent a slow and painful process of being updated to work on the Vita’s newer hardware, which is partially why I feel no one bothered to buy the system at launch, and why no should purchase the Vita until its issues are resolved. The PlayStation Vita isn’t the most wallet-friendly console on the market and why anyone would pay the full retail price of $299 for a system struggling to grasp content previously acquired is beyond me.

Money and compatibility aside, the platform’s line-up has such little first-party AAA titles released at the moment and whilst Uncharted: Golden Abyss, MotorStorm: RC and WipEout 2048 are great games, there hasn’t been any highly rated game since the console made its debut worldwide on the 22nd February. Sure, there are cool trailers for upcoming games that will launch later this year, but after over six months of consistently playing Rayman Origins, I don’t think I’ll put any faith in Sony and it's third-party developers at this moment in time.

Another problem with the console is that it’s only be able to store one account at a time, meaning if users share consoles, then they are also forced to share one PSN account. This as a whole hasn’t been fixed and nor are there plans to. It’s not so much a big deal for people with one single PSN account per household, but for those competitive couples and family members, the PS Vita doesn’t do justice with multiple accounts like the PS3 does.

As of right now, I’m forced to share my PS Vita console and PSN account with my 8-year old sister, which I don’t mind in the slightest. However, she does, and by being old enough to play games properly, my sister strives for supremacy and hopes to trump me and my ridiculous amount of PSN trophies – but sadly even if she could somehow top my trophy count – it isn’t possible without another PSN account.

I just don’t see why Sony couldn’t have incorporated multiple account entries into the Vita. It seemed like a logical feature to implement – especially considering the PS3 could store multiple accounts from different regions.

All in all, the Vita’s performance is still fantastic, but it’s just a shame that the software line-up is mediocre at best. I feel at the console’s price point that the console really needs to offer people more options with the content they buy and the accounts they use to access it. Sony could easily fix these issues over the course of a year, but I’ve always found Sony incompetent and will likely avoid the issue with firmware updates primarily focusing on revised security – which is a bummer.

As stated previously, Sony will fix the compatibility with PS1 games next week – so that’s something to look forward to and this fall we will see some of the greatest games hit Sony’s portable console. Sony isn’t doing everything wrong entirely, for one, it’s doing a great thing with its cross-play title line-up.

Cross-play is essentially giving you the same game but for either your PS3 or Vita – depending on what platform you buy initially the game for. For example: if you bought the upcoming PlayStation All Stars game for the PS Vita, you’d get the PS3 version free and vice-versa. The idea of bringing real-first party titles that aren’t spin-offs is great. Sure the Vita will have some spin-off titles, but with games like Sly 4: Thieves in Time, PlayStation All Stars and Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force (pictured above) hitting the Vita platform this fall, one can only be happy that the platform is home to such great AAA titles – which sadly, wasn’t the case for the Vita’s predecessor, the PlayStation portable – but at least Sony’s doing something right.

What are your opinions on the matter? How do you think Sony could increase the sales of its newest portable system? Let us know in the comments section.

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