If you know anything about me, which some of you do – you know that I’m a gigantic fan of Sony’s PlayStation Vita to the point I keep it on my person at all times. I’ve even gone to the extent of taking advantage of the new family Nighthawk X4 router and upgraded our internet speeds to 200Mbps so that we can have an extended bit of family fun, and even enjoy our internet gaming a bit more. This even includes my capability to play my PlayStation Vita when on the road. Granted on the road doesn’t happen much, but it is a nice change to be quite honest. But the reality of it is, Sony has effectively given up hope on their Vita. Ask them six years from now what happened? They’ll probably play it off as if the thing never existed, much like my beloved PSP-10000, which I still play and love to this day. I’ve even gone as far as repurchasing many of my beloved titles on my Vita since they are readily available. Thank you Sony Japan for the 64GB memory cards, those are handy.
The First Party Support Games are Great, but Third Party Still Wins
But lets not play it off. We know first party for the handheld has been lackluster. Really it’s shameful since the few first party games there are, were amazing, and even provided a powerhouse sense of console gaming to that little handheld. The reality is? There were very few of these games such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Killzone: Mercenary, Freedom Wars, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines, Tearaway, Gravity Rush, and even Little Big Planet to name a select few that’ll stand out to most. All of these games have been exceptional enough that they even got ported to the PlayStation 4 (i.e. Tearaway and Gravity Rush). For us PlayStation Vita owners? We can honestly admit that it feels that Sony has abandoned us since we haven’t seen any true huge updates for the PlayStation Vita, we haven’t seen any new first party games, and we’ve seen very little in the means of them even bringing up new PlayStation Vita titles in the long run. Instead we have third party companies such as Atlus USA, NIS America, Aksys Games, Bandai Namco, XSEED Games, and a few other localization teams that have brought over some of the most astonishing games to date. Many of these games even keeping the die hard PlayStation Vita fans rather happy since the games aren’t just a cash-cow, but instead a launch of games they know the fans will honestly want.
It’s a harsh reality when the third party teams have done a far better job than one of the gaming giants of the modern day. If only Sony realized they still have time, but that time is quickly running out as the console wars heat up.
Sony Needs to Realize the PlayStation Vita is Owned by Gamers
The question is for some: Why is this important to them? For many, the question is a legitimate question, one that some would scratch their heads when my response comes out as follows; The PlayStation Vita is not just an accessory to the PlayStation 4, but instead it is a business competitor to the Nintendo 3DS. While it’s hard to state that the PlayStation Vita will ever possibly trump the Nintendo 3DS is not a possibility, but what is possible is that its games aren’t focused solely on kids. While the Nintendo 3DS does offer an amazing variety of games such as titles from Virtual Console to modern titles as well as its backwards compatibility with physical Nintendo DS games, it’s an understatement to say the game supports the likes of adults and fans who want to play imported titles. We’ve not seen titles such as Corpse Party, Danganronpa, Freedom Wars, or even Soul Sacrifice launch on the handheld, we’ve seen a few adult oriented titles launch on it, but nothing compared to what the Vita has obtained in the last few years.
While we know gamers play both Handhelds, it’s hard not to say that Sony is trying to bury the handheld as quickly as possible due to the fact North America hasn’t seen the new Vita colors, larger memory cards or even half the library Japan has. Hell their Vita library is making ours look like we own a GameCube if that says anything (sorry Nintendo the GameCube had a few select games that were amazing). When gaming on the PlayStation Vita? I’ve run into gamers who treat the handheld as if it were their PlayStation 4. Trust me, I do too, and this effectively shows there is a dedicated crowd out there that is ignored, especially after Andrew House labeled the handheld a “legacy device”, but how can you kill something that… Really isn’t dead, but just isn’t selling all that great in North America? Well we can partially blame Sony for not trying, but we can also blame them for.. Well not trying at all. So it is Sony’s fault that the device is dying if not dead first-party wise. It’s a shame though because the handheld? Is great. It’s magnificent outside of how expensive one is without a memory card, then a good 64GB memory card costing about the same as the handheld itself. Ouch, that’s a punch in the jaw if I didn’t know better. If Sony has any chance at saving this thing, if they cared, their best bet is to treat it as they do the PlayStation 4 and start building a business format around it. There’s still time Sony, but it’s running out. Third Party is what’s even keeping it afloat. Heck that’s where I’ve met a lot of my PSN friends even.
Third Party is Who Deserves the Credit
If you were to walk into a game distributor such as GameStop (sorry Best Buy, I love you, but your Vita selection is worse than Wal-Mart dropping the Amazon price-matching), you’ll notice some GameStops will have a decent selection of Vita games, they even have them in a neat and fashionable order (if your GameStop cares like mine does). But what you will notice is the fact there’s not any first party games. Shocker really, Hell, even Metal Gear Solid HD isn’t a first-party ordeal. Thanks Konami, you rocked at the time, but I still don’t forgive you. Instead you’ll notice games by companies such as ATLUS, Aksys, NIS America, Compile Hearts/Idea Factory, XSEED Games, and even Bandai Namco. Why? They’re the ones that seem to give a damn that us fans are demanding games still despite Sony shoving us into a corner and putting us Vita owners in a time-out.
If it weren’t for games like Freedom Wars, Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines, Soul Sacrifice/Soul Sacrifice Delta, Murumasa: Rebirth, Persona 4 Golden, Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, Senran Kagura: Shinova Versus/Estival Versus, and a select other few titles? I wouldn’t even own the handheld. Hell Tearaway was great, creative, and fun, but it wasn’t ground breaking. If any game was? Gravity Rush, but with that on PlayStation 4? I could almost sell my Vita copy and not even shed a tear. Except the fact I have a physical copy does matter. Where third party has succeeded, Sony has truly failed as they seem to have given up even developing games, announcing games and even trying to put a few games on the market. Shame on you Sony, if you’d only put the effort into it that the game publishers have done. If you treated it like you do the PlayStation 4? The handheld would be phenomenal and even groundbreaking due to its PlayStation 4 compatibility. Hell even making companion games for titles such as Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, and even Horizon: Zero Dawn would be amazing. Why? It’s what us fans want. Hell ever since I played Knack a PlayStation Vita spin-off would have been amazing to have, but instead? I’m left to my own devices (rather games) to enjoy and will still wonder what would happen if we’d seen more first party developer love.
You Were the Chosen One Sony – The Vita is a Masterpiece
If you were to visit my room, you wouldn’t be shocked to see I’m a fan of both Sony and Nintendo even though I have my Sega stuff and my Xbox’s (all three gens, imagine that), but what you will notice is my love for Sony. You wouldn’t doubt for one second that I haven’t missed out on a generation of gaming on their handhelds or consoles. Instead you’d see an office with art book’s, display boxes, and even my consoles hooked up in a neat fashion. Granted I’ve put a few of them in storage under lock-and-key, you’d be unable to doubt the fact I absolutely adore Sony’s library of games from the 90’s to current, but that changed when it came to the PSP and the PlayStation vita. It was almost like they didn’t care, they didn’t want to care, they worried more about their handheld crowd. Sound familiar with Nintendo and the Wii U? Yea, it does. Why? It’s the same situation. One has great first party support, the other doesn’t, which is where Sony and Nintendo have swapped places, but at least Nintendo is seemingly still putting effort into the Wii U until we probably get to finally see their new console(s) and or handheld at E3 2016. Well CES would’ve been great to show them off at.
I know if I were to ask a head board member of Sony point blank about why the Vita hasn’t gotten love? My answer would probably be something around the lines of “we don’t have the owner demographic we do in Japan and other parts of Asia”, which is true. But the response I’d fire back would eventually come down to the awful price gouging they have done for the memory cards, chargers, and the fact that the handheld itself with a good memory card will push owners around 300-350 bucks all together. For that much? I’d just spend the few extra bucks and buy a PlayStation 4 and be on my merry way. Which may be what Sony has done intentionally so that they can move consoles, but why not launch a bundle with a 32GB memory card, take the loss and make the bundle 450? It’d bring new fans in and even cause more money to flow through the PlayStation store unless those fans turn around and sale the console. It’d also help push first party support as they would see the fans actually using their handhelds in order to enjoy their gaming experience more effectively. Sony, what happened? Were you tempted by the Dark Side of winning the console war so far?
Third Party Devs and Publishers, Sony Needs You – Closing Thoughts
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably decided my entire op-ed has been me bashing one of my favourite companies. Truth is? You’d actually be right that I’ve been dragging my feet through the mud while whining about Sony. Why? All us Vita owners are thinking it, some of us are just not beginning to say it, and I’m one of the ones kicking in the doors. If there is anything that has gone right with the handheld, it’s the fact that third party developers and publishers have effectively revitalized the PlayStation Vita for me in the fact I own almost every game to have released on it and have put well over seventy games on my shelf. So while there are games out there, new owners who aren’t into JRPGs and graphic novels will have to dig through the PlayStation Vita’s library through online stores such as Amazon or through the PlayStation Store to find games that suit their style of games. While that sounds bad? Some of the games have a great story, great mechanics, and even beautiful graphics.
With all this said? Sony it’s your turn to step up to bat, and I really hope to see you make a grand slam.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.