That is the question as we head into the holiday season, where the PS Vita is having a rough ride. A lot of people are claiming doom and gloom for Sony’s next-gen powerhouse system.
Although with it’s innovative features (from a touchpad on the back to dual Control Sticks and a touchscreen to unique wi-fi GPS features like Near and Party to 3G Support) and the backing of Sony, only a fool would count the system out.
The launch of the PS Vita wasn’t exactly a raging success, and the system had too little big-name games that have kept the system from selling in big numbers. Only 2 million systems have sold WORLDWIDE, although reports say that software and videgame sales, both digital and hardcopy, are brisk and going well for the games that are out there.
However, with Nintendo just hitting its stride with the 3DS and launching with big-name titles for the holidays like New Super Mario Bros. 2 (released in August), Pokemon Black & White 2 also out now (granted they are DS titles, but can be played on 3DS), Paper Mario: Sticker Star hitting in later November and Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask releasing later this month; It’s going to be hard for the PS Vita to compete.
For the PS Vita there are few big-name games for this holiday. The biggest of them probably being Assasssin’s Creed III: Liberation, Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, Silent Hill: Book of Memories and Persona 4 Golden.
The problem is that these games, with their more console-like play-styles and gameplay thanks to the greater graphical power of the PS Vita, will have to compete with their proper console brethren. And while everyone thinks Assassin’s Creed: Liberation and Black Ops Declassified look great. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE (outside of someone who only owns a PS Vita, all two of you) is going to buy those titles INSTEAD of the console titles. If anything, they will buy both. The more likely scenario is that people will forget about the PS Vita titles and focus instead on the console versions… and maybe get around to the PS Vita spin-offs in 2013 after the holidays. Or am I wrong?
One way Sony is fighting back for the PS Vita is by encouraging developers to leave ports behind, accusing lazy console ports as diluting the PlayStation Portables library last-generation and is actively taking steps to not repeat that mistake for PS Vita. The early PS Vita library already contains many ports, and Persona 4 Golden itself is a PS2 port (PS2 ports being the biggest problem with the original PSP)… but Sony insists that is an exception and they are actively encouraging developers to develop unique content in the likes of Assassin’s Creed: Liberation and Black Ops Declassified.
Sony is still highly courting Indie developers as well, and that has given us already modern-classic PlayStation Vita titles like Escape Plan and Sound Shapes. Sony has learned from their strong Indie support on the PS3’s PlayStation Network and with the PS Minis on PSP, that Indie is a big plus, and is doing everything it can (even LOANING Dev Kits to Indie peoples) to stur up more innovation and great Independent titles to be made exclusively as PS Vita blockbusters.
Of course, that hardly solves the problem as it’s rare that someone will outright buy a new system simply to play an Indie title. But they DEFINITELY don’t hurt, as Indie hits like MineCraft (an Xbox 360-exclusive much to Sony’s dismay), “Journey”, Papo & Yo and “Flower” have proven, the latter three being very big hits for the PlayStation Network.
And with the PS Vita’s touchscreen and unique abilities like the back touchpad, Wi-Fi, GPS and Alternate Reality Games support, they believe that the PS Vita is the perfect platform to make some innovative and great Indie games.
The other big push Sony is making to try and increase sales and excitement for the PS Vita, is by connecting it to the PS3 and trying to lure PlayStation 3 owners to buy a PS Vita. They have their CrossBuy feature where you only need to buy one PSN version of a game and you gain access to it on both PS3 & PS Vita, and the Cross Controller feature where you can use the PS Vita as a PS3 controller.
But are any of these features really enough to make a PS3 owner pick up a PS Vita? I doubt it. Once again it comes back to the big-name games, and that is where Sony’s focus should be. Instead of giving us a Uncharted spin-off, create a game of the calibur of Uncharted, are a mascot-style game like Crash Bandicoot was in the past, that is fun, unique, and creative, and THAT will lure people to purchase a PS Vita over a 3DS.
As for whether the PS Vita will become more successful than the PSP, I believe the PS Vita CAN accomplish that. If you remember back, both the PS3 and the PSP had dismal starts. The PS3 in particular had a horrible launch and horrible launch games, as did the PS2 before it. Both systems took several years to hit their stride, and we should expect no less of the PS Vita… and that’s generally how it goes for ANY system. All it takes is time.