So for those that don’t know, the new PlayStation Vita handheld console has arrived and met an audience, coincidentally enough, similar to that of the Nintendo 3DS at launch.
And honestly the reasons for that are valid.
So what was promised to intrepid buyers of the system? Well the marketing concept behind the system was a type of two-pronged offensive in that there would be two kinds of games the system would carry.
You see, Sony planned with the mention of the 3G model to have more downloadable games on the PlayStation Network, I assume titles like Braid or Fez or mobile app games that usually price at 5-10 dollars, in addition to actual cartridge games that taxed the hardware more that ran from the 20-40 dollar market.
Conceptually this was sound, you would have a handheld with the processing ability to outclass all current handhelds but support smaller cheaper titles.
So where did it screw up?
First of all the price tag of $249.99 was and is comparable to a console despite it being a portable system with less processing power.
Two, the starting line-up isn’t solid with the most advertised title being simultaneously the most expensive, Uncharted: Golden Abyss. The only other title to receive any press that isn’t a port of an existing game is Gravity Rush and that’s only received minimal advertising which guarantees it as a sleeper success at most.
Three, the system requires a new format of memory card for storage. On top of that there is no memory card bundled with the standard unit.
So I think we narrowed it down, right?
So we know what the problems were, what should Sony have done?
Well despite my reservations on a high price unit I get a new handheld being expensive. I don’t agree with it but given development budgets and the gaming market as it is I can understand it. There should have been a memory card loaded with the system, at least including a 1 GB card, maybe 500 megabytes. That way the customer has at least choice, or the illusion of choice with the option to store save data on a PlayStation 3 console either manually or via some sort of cloud synch.
Second, there needed to be a big and I do mean big download library at launch. Sony needed to invest in porting as many classic download only games as they could from both X-Box Live and Mobile App stores. That way, end-users could easily go home and using the household wi-fi access the PlayStation Store and simply drop ten-twenty bucks to get a small set of games.
The thing is, even now in the aftermath of the launch, Sony can easily turn the Vita into a success. It would take a lot of promotion to ensure that enough people knew about it but it would make for a great turnaround.
Simply convert their entire library of PlayStation One and Two games (that are in the store currently) to be playable on the Vita.
Why? Two words, one number.
Final Fantasy VII.
The titan of the Final Fantasy franchise, the benchmark and oft heralded as the finest entry in the series. You tell people there is a portable version of that game, even in its original iteration with no graphical improvement, and you will have their money.
You can currently buy Final Fantasy VII in the store for both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable, work that one out, and have a version of the game you can move from the system to the handheld and if my understanding of the means by which the PlayStation 3 transfers data to the PlayStation Portable, you can also transfer your saves. It is only $9.99 which, had it been advertised at launch as being on the Vita, would have made an instant hit. Add Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep to the network for the Vita as it’s become a hard to find title as well as other select classic PlayStation Portable games that are now hard to find and you will have a marketable success from this console through virtual purchases. That and by converting the old PSOne and PS2 games to the console you can have a library of exclusive games no competitor has access to.
As it is though, that’s where the Vita’s weakness is. The cartridge games demand development time and effort to use the full of the system’s potential. While consumers are forced to wait for these new games, a series of smaller games must be made available from as many markets as Sony can afford to acquire from.
Let’s hope Sony is currently doing its best to capitalize on the potential market the handheld has so that this system does not suffer from the same failure as the PlayStation Portable Go.
And so too does this work exist.