Gamescom’s Vita Announcements: Still Not Enough?

Sony straight-up dropped bombs at its Gamescom conference. A lot of those bombs were apparently in an effort to resurrect the Vita, but in my opinion they still don’t solve fundamental problems with the platform’s software library.

Sony announced a Vita price drop and Vita versions of a lot of prominent games — games I like: Borderlands 2, Rogue Legacy, Wasteland Kings, Minecraft, etc. Last year I posted about how I wasn’t interested in buying a Vita for a bunch of ports, and these announcements don’t change that. I already own or can get these games on other platforms I own. I see what Sony’s trying to do, but I think it could go a little further.

The Vita has always been positioned as a portable PlayStation, and if anything these announcements along with near-universal remote play and cross-buy with PS4 cement that purpose for the Vita.  Put together with the PS4, the whole system is a pretty hard drive to convince people to buy the PlayStation versions of games. Sony is trying to create its own Apple-style ecosystem.

The reason why I’m stuck on iOS devices is because I’ve bought content I’m confident will run on any iOS device I buy. I have to admit Sony makes a good case for buying a game like Wasteland Kings on PlayStation so I can play it on a console as well as on the go, as opposed to buying it on Steam. If you don’t already own any of these games then buying them on PSN is probably a good choice. My problem is that I already bought Borderlands 2 and Rogue Legacy on Steam.

I know this is a long-shot, but man it would be cool if there was some way I could transfer my progress between the PC and PlayStation versions of games. I think it’s technically feasible, if extremely unlikely.

Valve already basically made the PS3 version of Portal 2 cross-buy with the PC version, allowing cross-platform co-op and other features. What if Valve made that Steam/PlayStation bridge a standard Steamworks feature for third party developers to use if they were interested in Vita ports of their games?

Another possibility comes through digital game codes. Retailers are allowed to sell digital keys for Steam and Nintendo eShop games, I think Sony and Microsoft should do the same with digital PlayStation and Xbox games in the future. All kinds of deals have been made possible by the availability of these keys. In most cases buying a game through Humble Bundle nets you a DRM-free copy as well as a Steam key. What about the possibility of throwing a PSN key in there?

All this is just wishful speculation of course. Sony’s obviously trying to attract people into its PlayStation environment, and some outreach onto other platforms would be a good way to expose more people to it. Of course another great way would be exclusive games.

Exclusives are still in the minority when you look at Vita and the upcoming consoles. On the one hand I’m fine with competing consoles basically being competing operating systems that sell you the same content with different services, but on the other hand my portable gaming is done on the 3DS right now because I can’t get Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei IV anywhere else.

It’d be great if Sony actually put some of its top first party studios on pure Vita games like Nintendo does for the 3DS. The best I’m expecting though is for some Japanese developers to step up to the plate for Vita like they did for PSP.

When you think about it, the PSP became what it was — the quirky JRPG machine, basically by accident. Like the Vita now, Sony positioned that system as a portable PS2, but the initiative failed while Monster Hunter came out of nowhere and pulled the PSP out of the fire, eventually bringing a whole mess of JRPGs with it. So far Sony’s only effort to honor that on Vita has been Soul Sacrifice. I’m interested in seeing if the PSP’s unique Japanese support can cross over to the Vita.

We might see this start to happen at the Tokyo Game Show in September. The system really has a lot of potential if developers design specifically for it. I just haven’t seen enough of that for me to jump on yet. The prospect of having the Vita act like and iPhone to the PS4’s iPad is a nice sales proposition if Sony can get it to work though.

BULLETS:

  • Can EA just let us have the full Battlefield 4 main theme already?
  • So that Rapture game. The Chinese Room? CryEngine? Alright Sony you have my attention.
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