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The Vita gets a second wind

29 August 2013, 7:14 am

Sony's handheld hasn't had the best of times at all; in fact, it's floundered over the past 12 months.

The console may have had some great games, but when compared to Nintendo's 3DS, it's seemed rather lacking.

Sure, there are a good variety of PSP titles and PS1 classics, as well as the Minis range, but when it comes to top-flight titles built for Vita...

The handheld has had the likes of Persona 4 Golden, Disgaea and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but they didn't hold a candle to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Super Mario 3D Land and Monster Hunter.

And sales showed, with the console lagging behind the 3DS - the Vita being trounced by Nintendo in almost all major markets.

The start of a turnaround?

At Sony's E3 press conference, the Vita was almost entirely overshadowed by the PS4 - although there were plenty of games shown off.

Whether it was Hotline Miami, Batman: Arkham Origins BlackGate, Flower or Luftrausers, the console had quite a few titles in the pipeline.

But it was only with last week's Gamescom that we saw Sony make a statement.

One of the biggest announcements was the Vita price drop (at least in the USA and EU), while the obscenely priced memory cards have become less... obscenely priced.

As for games, Sony seems to have taken a slightly different route with the Vita at Gamescom, opting for loads of indie titles.

In essence, the company is marketing the Vita as a haven for bite-sized games and independent releases - judging by the list of games announced at Gamescom, it's well on its way.

There's Eufloria HD, Gravity Crash Ultra, Muramasa Rebirth and Avoid Droid - and those are just the Vita exclusives. Games coming to both PS4 and Vita include Wasteland Kings, Fez, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth and Hotline Miami 2.

Treading carefully

Sony's move is pretty much the opposite of what it did with the PlayStation Portable - releasing ports of PS2 games en masse.

Much has changed since the PSP's launch - people are accustomed to downloadable titles that don't cost a pretty penny, owing to current generation systems and mobile gaming.

Digital distribution is a boon for developers too, with production costs for these titles being much lower than your traditional blockbuster title.

Sony's work is far from done though - for one, the gaming giant has to make sure that its first-party studios continue to churn out great AAA exclusives.

It also has to attract the support of large third-party developers, but this is a slightly trickier situation. After all, developers come to a console that's selling well, and consoles will sell well if they have developer support.

Then there's still the issue of memory card prices...

Yes, it's pointless having an indie-focused console (along with digital distribution) if memory cards are still ridiculously expensive. At R185 for a 4GB memory card, R335 for 8GBs, R455 for 16GBs and R735 for 32GBs (according to BT Games), it's clear that Sony is trying to keep the Vita price low and then gouge customers on storage.

Of course, there's the argument that Sony's cards are somehow better than microSD cards - a claim that has since been disproven by Eurogamer. The website found that microSD cards offered much better performance at a quarter of the price.

So it stands to reason that Sony will need to do more than just lop R20 off the price of memory cards. After all, if the 3DS can get by just fine with SD cards, what's stopping Sony?

But so far, Sony is showing that the Vita isn't anywhere near dead yet - and a rejuvenated Vita can only mean better competition.

Read More: on / Author - Hadlee Simons / Sony South Africa / Vita


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