The Vita is Sony’s largest console to date but it enters a market dominated by Nintendo’s DS/3DS and being invaded by smartphones and tablets. With the launch of the Vita next week we queried the staff to see who was going to get one and why they were and weren’t. A lot of people (myself included) think this may be the last significant handheld launch we ever see (excluding the inevitable re-tooling of the 3DS) and it’s going to be interesting to see if the device has more success here in North America than it did in Japan.
We’ve broken the article up into two sections. The three staffers that are skipping the launch are going first with those purchasing the device going last.
Those not buying a Vita at launch
I will admit that the device has everything going right for it in relation to the aesthetics. Sony knows how to create sleek and sexy devices that warrant showing off to all your friends. However, the usability and price of the PlayStation Vita are the two primary factors that take away any interest of purchasing the device upon launch. With smartphones, tablets, and sleeker laptops, the need to have a portable device dedicated to gaming is simply a fad from the past. If I must play some games while traveling or on the go, my smartphone and tablet are the first choices in my arsenal of portable devices. The Vita does contain more than just usability for gaming with a built-in web browser and such, but its limited battery life and lack of support for other applications does not justify carrying it in your pocket (if it can fit).
Secondly, the price of the buying the Vita system, memory card, and games puts it well around $300-350. For that amount of money, I'd rather opt to purchase an iPad or iPhone. The price is even more skewed when compared with other portable devices that offer a variety of versatile and cheap applications. For the Vita to even remotely be considered for purchase, it must drop under $200 and contain some worthwhile games. Many of the current launch titles offer little excitement and most are simple rehashes of other franchises that play better on larger screens and with actual controllers.
I really did try to fall in love with the Vita, but I still have emotional scars left from my experiences with the PSP Go.
I have no plans to purchase a PlayStation Vita when it releases on 2/22 for a variety of reasons. The biggest at this point is that the price it will cost to get going will easily approach the $300-$400 range (depending on the version) by the time you buy the hardware, a memory card, a few games and anything you may want to protect it. So the investment will be huge at launch, but I question whether I would even use it enough to warrant that type of money. Having has a PSP1000 since launch (I won it from McDonald’s for eating a Big Mac), I never really “took” to it like I probably should have. Sure I used it for games, movies and music, but when I got an iPod Touch and a Netbook, the PSP was used about as much as my Wii.
The PS Vita is truly a beautiful machine and very power packed, but I simply cannot justify dropping over $300-$400 on it when I know I will not use it more than a handful of hours a month. If I need a distraction and some quick gaming, my iPhone is the device I will hit. As far as a price point that may make me want to pick it up….it would have to approaching the $179 range to pique my interest.
I won’t be getting a Vita at launch but that is only because I don’t have the means of buying one right now; I definitely want one of Sony’s new handhelds. The price point is right on the money for what I had hoped they would launch at and the no-contract 3G offerings only sweeten the deal for me. The biggest things that are selling me on the handheld are the ability to stream games directly from your PlayStation 3, even if it is only available in limited form at this time. I have seen the videos of what this little thing is capable of doing and I just plain want it.
If I were picking up a system, I would likely pick up the following launch titles:
Uncharted: Golden Abyss- Who doesn’t love the Uncharted series? The game looks phenomenal thus far and I have nothing but the highest expectations for the finished product. This is the one title that has impressed me the most in terms of integrating all of the various features of the Vita system (touch panels, tilt controls, etc.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3- I think that it is pretty clear just how much of a fan of the MvC3 series I am considering my constant coverage of it on the site. The Vita version of the game is shaping up to be a direct 1-to-1 port of the PlayStation 3 version and the thought of having that game available to me on the go just melts my heart.
ModNation Racers: Road Trip- Every portable console needs a good kart racer and having one that allows you to create your own characters and tracks is even better. As long as the Vita version of the game is even remotely similar to its PS3 brethren, it will be a must have game for the handheld console in my books.
Those Purchasing a Vita at launch
I bought into Sony's PlayStation Portable from the get-go. Although there were rocky times, I found myself being the defender of this misunderstood handheld. A lot of gamers wrote the system off just as it started picking up steam, delivering some of my favorite games of this generation. It allowed a normally rigid company like Square Enix to experiment, creating some of their best works in twenty years. Best of all, it played most of the classic PlayStation 1 titles I loved. I have a giant soft spot for my PSP.
Given my history with the PSP, I'm eager to pick up the Vita. The launch line-up is one of the most diverse I've ever seen, offering high quality titles in nearly every genre. I'm eager to dig into some of my favorite Sony properties, like Uncharted and wipEout. I'm hoping that Lumines Electronic Symphony will be able to expand on one of my favorite PSP puzzlers. Even Rayman Origins gets another chance to shine. It's a strong line-up that has something for just about everybody.
Am I buying a Vita at launch? Yes, I am, almost begrudgingly because I really want the next Lumines, but the weeks before the Vita comes out are absolutely packed with great games. Although I'm not sold on AT&T's pricing model I might pick up the 3G Wi-Fi model just for the extra 4GB's in space and free PSN game, even with the $50 price difference. I'll be crunching numbers in the coming weeks to see how I can possibly fit a Vita into my already overcrowded month of games.
Software is obviously going to be key to the Vita's success. I'm looking forward to Lumines, though that recent song list reveal makes me wonder what happened to some of the in-house artists. If there isn't any Takagi Masakatsu or Genki Rockets I'm going to be severely disappointed. Sumioni looks amazing and I hope XSeed brings it out soon. And lastly Gravity Rush looking to be the game that convinces me
that the Vita is truly worth owning.
I'm going to be picking one up at launch because I'm a bit of a gadget freak and the Uncharted game looks really good. The system also has a bunch of other solid titles and I'm intrigued by how how game developers are going to integrate the various input methods into the system. It doesn't help that I've got two cross country trips at the end of the month so I've got plenty of time to play with it.
The big games for me are Uncharted, Army Corps of Hell, and Rayman:Origins. Uncharted is well uncharted and I really dug the demo I saw at E3 this year. Army Corps of Hell looks like an interesting use of the technology coupled with a cool concept of a game. I missed picking up Rayman:Origins on the console when it came out so I'm looking forward to picking it up for the Vita as the game looks gorgeous.