The Average Gamer

To Vita, or Not to Vita?

Ever since Sony first released details of the PlayStation Vita way back in January last year (or the NGP – next-generation portable, as it was being called back then), I was immediately sold on the premise. Then we were treated to an amazing full reveal in June, showing off the Vita’s hardware and amazing line-up of triple-A games. Sony also announced the price, which, at the time, was the same as the 3DS. This blew me away for two reasons: 1) it was clearly the more powerful console, and yet it could match the retail cost, and 2) pissed me off exponentially because I was one of the idiots who bought a 3DS at midnight on launch day.

It all seemed too good to be true, and as we began to find out more about Sony’s marketing strategy, the costs began to rise. Rumours that the Vita had little to zero internal memory were confirmed by Sony, and that they would be releasing a proprietary memory cards which you would need to buy in order to do pretty much anything on the handheld. Alarm bells started to ring, as proprietary usually means ten times the cost of its market equivalent. With the 32GB memory card priced at $119.99, the rose-tinted glasses began to slip, this £230 bargain was quickly becoming a £300+ investment.

This is a scary prospect, not only because of the recent massive price-drop Nintendo has given the 3DS, but also because the current generation of home consoles is not much more expensive than the largest Vita memory card. As I just noted, I was one of the people who bought a 3DS day-one and I was deeply disappointed by the quick drop in price, lack of software support, and sudden back-tracking by Nintendo. As an apology I have been given 20 old games I don’t play while other people can pay less than half of what I did for the console. I’d rather have the £100 in my pocket Nintendo! Now Nintendo have also realised that a second analogue stick is a necessity, and have released a gargantuan peripheral called the Circle Pad Pro, in order to compensate those who have the first-generation 3DS. (I predict the next iteration is right around the corner.)

As you can probably tell, I have been hurt by my experiences with the 3DS and that is having an effect on my Vita contemplation. Of course there will be the inevitable price-cut/second generation hardware, this doesn’t bother me, but in years gone by, this would be at least a year after the initial release.

Now, it is happening within the first three months, or few weeks if you look at the Vita’s Japanese launch, where sales have continued to plummet, forcing retailers to lower the price of the console by as much as 20%, according to a GamesRadar report discussed in IGN.

If you just read all of the above, you would probably think I hate the Vita. Our very own Richard Gwilliam also discussed the troubles Vita could have in a diminishing market of dedicated handheld gaming when smartphones and tablets are becoming the big-sellers. But the reason why I am having this debate is that I think the Vita is a phenomenal console. Having the chance to spend some time with it, and play some of the amazing launch games made me realise how much I want one.

There is nothing inherent about the console itself that makes me not want to buy it. It’s merely the logistics. £300 is a lot of money. Based on the 3DS and Japanese sales, the price will probably drop within the first 3 months, and I’d be paying way more than I should for a memory card. But what it comes down to in the end is that I love games. The Vita certainly has them in spades. I’ve always wanted a console-like experience on the go, and that’s the Vita’s home run swing. I want two analogue sticks, Vita has them. Plus with the innovative front and back touch controls, there is the potential for a wider marketplace which could offer everything from blockbuster titles to 69p apps.

It is a big investment, but I’m am such a weak-willed person that even if I avoided the release-day urge, it probably wouldn’t be long before I went out and bought one. So, today, I pre-ordered my Vita, as well as an overpriced memory card, and Little Deviants, which I thoroughly enjoyed in the little time I spent with it.

I’ll make sure to keep you posted on my thoughts on the Vita once I’ve spent time with it, and if anyone else has pre-ordered a Vita, let me know what your impressions are of the console once you’ve tried it for yourself.