How Will Vita TV Affect Developers?

PS-Vita-TV

A lot of people agree that the Vita TV is a good move for the platform. Another big question that has popped up or is bound to pop up though is how the shift will affect developers.

If Vita TV sells it’ll make the overall platform a lot more appealing to developers, but its hardware also essentially splits the market without any kind of touch interface. More importantly, will Vita developers begin to make games for the platform with the home console experience in-mind?

If Vita TV takes off and attracts developers it’ll be more or less the first time people will be developing games that will simultaneously be console and portable games. I mean, people have already been doing Vita versions of recent games, and we have cross-play, but that still requires the deliberate development of distinct SKUs. Now, anyone developing a Vita game can’t avoid the event of people playing it in a home console setting.

Let’s take something like local multiplayer for instance. There are already fighting games on Vita, but when you play local multiplayer you play by linking up to another Vita. Theoretically Vita TV should be able to do that, but any existing game won’t let you just hook up another controller, which is just odd for a console game. A big recent example that might theoretically be hit by this problem is the Vita version of Dragon’s Crown. Will future Vita games like this include both local and WLAN play, differentiating between a Vita and Vita TV? Will existing games be patched? At least Vita TV will make online play more reasonable.

Overall this might also affect the kinds of experiences developers try to present on Vita. Portable platforms are still more suited to bite-sized experiences than immersive games encouraging long sessions. Part of the reason the PSP and Vita failed at first was because Sony tried to push the console experience on handhelds. Now the Vita is essentially a console, possibly further enabling that angle.

And of course you’ve got the discouragement of leveraging touch controls. I really did think touch controls would make the Vita a piece of hardware with a lot of potential — console-quality game design with an intuitive touch interface. Now most games might not leverage it, or always present an option to ignore it. Hopefully the Dual Shock 4’s touch pad will present some kind of equivalent for Vita games.

I guess when Nintendo released the Game Boy Player attachment for the Gamecube I felt just fine playing all my GBA games on the TV, despite them being designed for the portable setting. What really matters here is the convenience of being able to play a game on your TV, and then seamlessly take it with you. Basically every other medium: from music to movies to literature, has achieved this dynamic of home consumption and portability. Console games are just now getting to a point where they can do this because handheld tech is now finally able provide high-quality 3D games.

BULLETS:

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