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E3 2014: Sony's Last Chance to Turn the Vita Into a Success

The Vita may be on its last legs, so Sony needs to impress a LOT of people at E3 this year.

by

Before I begin, a disclaimer:

I love my Vita. I've loved it from the moment it I got it. It's one slick little unit and its potential is absolutely through the roof. I honestly hope the system will survive and even flourish, because it's far too nice of a device to fail.

Of course, as the majority of people these days only read headlines, that disclaimer will be missed. But that can't be helped.

The point is simple: We haven't heard an updated official sales number for the PlayStation Vita in a long time and as everyone knows, it's not selling well. Perhaps even more telling is that Vita numbers have been notably absent from any Sony sales updates over the past year or so.

This spells trouble.

Yes, I know the PSP started out slowly

I remember well when everyone was calling the PSP a "failure" and Nintendo was running away with the handheld market. Nintendo still ran away with the market but after moving over 80 million units, the PSP was hardly a failure. However, the differences should be obvious:

Perhaps the most important difference is that the PSP didn't have to deal with the mobile explosion, which is undoubtedly hurting the Vita. How many devices are people expected to take with them when they leave the house? Their smartphone can play games, too, and while those games aren't a patch on Vita software or system capability, it's also a phone and an accepted multimedia device. Sony even admitted that they underestimated the impact of this market on Vita sales.

Furthermore, the PSP carved out a niche for itself. It had a lot of games you couldn't find anywhere else, especially if you were a fan of JRPGs. I mean, Monster Hunter almost single-handedly rocketed the PSP to success in Japan, and allowed it to compete favorably with the DS every now and then. The bottom line is that the PSP had plenty of unique - and worthwhile - experiences.

Thus far, the Vita doesn't have anywhere near enough exclusive titles. We've seen very few since the launch, and it can't survive on games that are also available on the PS3 and PS4. Consumers need specific reasons to own yet another portable unit.

Software is all that matters

Sony marketed the Vita to hardcore gamers and as such, they should know their intended audiences only cares about one thing: Games. You're not going after the mainstream consumer who just loves gadgets. That's not your crowd because you made it plain from the start: The Vita is for gamers. It's the elite portable gaming device for avid gamers. Okay, if that's the case, where the hell are the games?!

Forget about price and any and all Vita features like Remote Play. The only thing that will impress the intended demographic is elite exclusive software they can't play anywhere else. Most people really don't care that they can continue to play a game on the Vita after leaving the PS4 in the living room. Most times, when we're leaving, we don't have the time, the means (maybe we're driving), or the inclination to keep playing while on the go.

We want games. And at E3 this year, the Vita absolutely cannot be ignored. If it is, if it barely registers during Sony's press conference, I'm afraid the Vita won't last another year. They need to get current owners and - above all else - prospective owners interested in the Vita. With the core gaming crowd, there's only one way to do that...do I have to repeat myself? Games.

Show 'em off at E3, Sony, or I will assume the Vita is on life support.

Originally Published Apr. 29th 2014

Featured Columnist

A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.



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Comments
  • 1
    Acteon_2155 3 months ago
    I don't think Vita is dead. It isn't booming, certainly, but we are getting some excellent games, including Child of Light, Freedom Wars, Arcana Heart (personal fave), Gravity Rush 2 and a lot of JRPG's, which happen to be my favourite. Still waiting to hear on God Eater 2 though, be nice to see that at E3.

    In order to succeed in the West, we need titles like SFIV, Uncharted, Watchdogs, Infamous etc. Without those, the system will, like the PSP before it, become a niche and vanish from store shelves.

    The failure of PSP was, by Sony's own admission, due to taking their eye off the ball and forgetting the system in the wake of PS3. If they're stupid enough to do the same thing twice, they'll lose a lot of goodwill.

    Shahid Ahmed has promised 60 games in development, if he's good to his word, we may have cause for celebration at E3. Here's hoping.
    Last edited 3 months ago
  • 1
    Aros_8685 3 months ago
    The Vita is amazing and will survive in it's niche for a long while yet. I expect a couple of new Sony games to be revealed - Vita Pets looks great, should be shown in detail. Vita owners buy a LOT of games so I would expect quite a few new games to be revealed, even if they are indies. A couple of big IP for this year and next along with a couple of HD collections from Sony will be fine for me. I'm hoping for some third party big games such as Child of Light too.
  • 1
    Paul_2424 4 months ago
    What really tells me the Vita isn't doing well enough is the number of games that should have come out on the Vita, but don't. I don't disagree that it needs exclusives, but I think it needs a much more confident presence too.
    Considering the claims that "Developers can easily port PS4, PS3, PS Vita", and given that people are okay with downloads, why isn't it happening consistently? I can only assume that actually it's hard and unrewarding to do this. Or it's a system regarded with such little confidence that people can't risk putting the effort in.

    On top of that, the release schedules are so vague. Using IGN's site, the Vita's upcoming game list is a massive wall of "ETA 2014." Maybe I'm being picky but I've found it really hard to pin details down of games I look forward to, and that matters to me.
  • 1
    novurdim 4 months ago
    Urm, I kinda get a feeling that Fathoms didn't even look into Vita's game library. Really shallow analytics.

    >I remember well when everyone was calling the PSP a "failure"...but after moving over 80 million units, the PSP was hardly a failure. However, the differences should be obvious.
    Well, looks like not obvious enough for our brave author. You do remember, that psp was hacked and that crazily boosted the sales. On the other hand software stopped selling almost completely. Even now Vita sells more software than psp did at its peak.

    >Furthermore, the PSP carved out a niche for itself.
    Yeah, just like Vita already did.

    >It had a lot of games you couldn't find anywhere else, especially if you were a fan of JRPGs.
    Whatcha say? That's right! Just like Vita did! Especially if you are a fan of JRPGs. Actually, there are already more jrpgs coming to west for Vita than psp has ever seen. It's impressive, taking into accout the current lifespans of two consoles.

    >if it barely registers during Sony's press conference, I'm afraid the Vita won't last another year.
    Simply died at this point. You know, u wouldn't look as laughable, if u at least checked japs hardware charts for the last year. Especially since u've been talking so persistently about jap market, psp and MH during that earlier attempt at comparison.

    Vitas future is that of an extremely niche jap-oriented device, I'm sure we'll still see two or three big west releases but that's it. And also that by no means indicates that Vita will (oh man, still can't stop laughing) DIE or that it has no games to play (2014's lineup is really nice). But this article did help to show one thing: the striking majority of western audience are very stereotypical and are not capable of researching on their own. You just have to shove a whole bunch of AAA titles (but not just AAA titles, but AAA franchises that everyone is talking about) into their face or they'll continue to repeat all this nonsence. And what sales would u expect when every shallow "gaming journalism veteran of 14 years" does just that. Public opinion is warped and there's nothing we can do about it.
  • 60
    Fathoms_4209 4 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    Odd. I'm told I'm being lazy by someone who writes "u've" rather than "you've," can't spell "nonsense" ("nonsence"), and at the same time, can't point to a single high-profile exclusive coming to the Vita this year. In fact, in doing my RESEARCH, I saw the Vita release list for 2014...it's pathetic.

    It has games that are already available on other platforms, and that's about it. One or two JRPGs is hardly the same thing as the giant library of JRPGs on the PSP, which took about six years to develop.

    Analysts have been questioning if Sony will discontinue the Vita for some time. So have other industry insiders. But by all means, we should definitely listen to the random gamer who likes to lecture and yet embarrassingly writes in e-speak. Heh...well done.
    Last edited 4 months ago
  • 1
    novurdim 4 months ago
    Pointing fingers with zero arguments. After that article I'm starting to think that It's probably just your style and I shouldn't complain.

    > who writes "u've" rather than "you've,"
    Hey, how dare u write "you've" instead of "you have". God, so lazy.

    >which took about six years to develop.
    Wow, so you do realise that Vita is not six years old.

    >One or two JRPGs
    Just stop embarassing yourself already.

    >Analysts have been questioning if Sony will discontinue the Vita for some time.
    Yeah, just like I said: tons of shallow useless pessimistic analysis is flooding the net, creating horrible image that frightens potential buyers.

    >can't point to a single high-profile exclusive coming to the Vita this year.
    I didn't bother. Why? Because "high-profile" in your narrow understanding means "gta, infamous, uncharted" (and I did say about that). And there's obviously none of the western origin right now (u should have probably read my comment first as I also did say "an extremely niche jap-oriented device"). But Vita is doing fine in Japan and has a bunch of "high-profile exclusives". From the top of my mind: Freedom Wars (Sony is aiming to sell a million of FW, good luck to them), Oreshika 2, Phantasy Star Nova, soon-to-be expansion of God Eater 2 (the biggest vita-exclusive in Japan that sold more than 700 000 copies and has not even hit our market yet). Only a really-really shallow specialist can call them "low-profile". Also lots of those mecha-games, popular anime titles (SAO: Hollow Fragment being the last example) and hunter games+their expansions that usually sell at least 200 000 in Japan. But Vitas actual strength is in variety of niche-titles (which u obviously don't play anyway, meh, and by that I didn't mean "indies" btw). Since localizations nowadays are going surprisingly well (way better than with psp, I must say) Vita is very desirable for that niche u were trying to mention. I also like how you ignored all my arguments about hacking and its role in psp sales (and no, psp doesn't have a huge library of AAA games, quite on the contrary). Yes, Vita needs more games (who doesn't, really), especially from the West. But situation is nearly not as life-threating and dramatic as u make it out to be, so stop confusing people with your empty words. Of course it's naive to expect a huge support from the West, Vita is (as psp was) oriented on japanese market and will continue to slowly evolve there, I only hope that they won't suddenly stop translating all those great games, my japanese is not good enough yet, but right now there're no signs pointing to that.

    >Heh...well done.
    Shame I can't say the same about you.

    PS: well, I do apologize for misspelling nonsense, english is hardly my native language and from time to time I make ridiculous mistakes or even (I'm really sorry) misprint. Hope u'll find it in your heart to forgive me.
    Last edited 4 months ago
  • 60
    Fathoms_4209 4 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    Yeah, no. English not being your native language doesn't make you any less lazy for typing in e-speak.

    And I'll take the analyst and industry insider notes over your self-righteous rambling any day. The Vita is in trouble and everyone knows it...screaming about it doesn't make it any less real.
  • 1
    novurdim 4 months ago
    No screaming, just little attempt at analysis, something your article lacks completely. I just don't see why we should swap logic for pessimistic brooding, you are responsible for what you write so it'd be nice if u at least made an effort, did research, weighted all pros and contras. I don't know, did "something". You obviously just wrote that in an hour (or even less) conveniently using the most popular stereotypes. But there are also articles about how Vita is the most underrated console ever, u could have read them to broaden the view. But meh, who needs that, right? It's not the way of a seasoned journalist.
    Vita is indeed in trouble at the western market, but it will forever be, that's partly what "niche" means, we'll just have to deal with it and hope for lesser kind of problems.
    PS/ man, phantom "industry insiders" is a really weak excuse for an article like that.
    Last edited 4 months ago
  • 8
    Ryan Mayle 4 months ago
    Contributor
    If memory serves correctly, when they first anounced the Vita they demoed a port of Metal Gear Solid 4 running on its hardware saying that it was easy to port games from the PS3 to it. I want to know why they never actually moved any games to the portable.
  • 60
    Fathoms_4209 4 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    I don't know but I'm not sure it would help much. It still needs AAA exclusive software.
  • 1
    novurdim 4 months ago
    Because it is actually very hard to port heavy ps3 games. Just look at how they struggle with Borderlands 2. Lots of problems hinder the process and that usually simply isn't worth it in the end.
    Last edited 4 months ago
  • 32
    Elijah Beahm 4 months ago
    Correspondent
    I'm in agreement here on this one. It's ridiculous that Sony, a known great source of exclusive IPs, has had almost nothing made for the Vita. Aye it does need something we don't already have examples for on any other platform, or at least something that does similar ideas differently. It needs exclusive content if a game is ported to it. It needs to offer genuine modern experiences above all else, while likewise not half-assing the PS1/PSP support it's been doing thus far.
  • 60
    Fathoms_4209 4 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    "It's ridiculous that Sony, a known great source of exclusive IPs, has had almost nothing made for the Vita."

    Truth.
  • 37
    zoLo567 4 months ago
    Senior Intern
    I agree. I love my Vita too, and I use it more than I use my 3DS. Sony really needs to step up their game, and get more great software on the system. I would hate to see the Vita fail