Friday, April 19, 2013

The Vita - Sony's Poor Abandoned Child

When the Vita was announced the hardware was very impressive. A year later, it is still very impressive. However like a creative child born into a family of lawyers, it was neglected by its makers from the start. My criticism of the Vita is nothing new, but as Benny from Fallout: New Vegas said, "From where you're kneeling, it must seem like an 18-carat string of bad luck. But the truth is... the game was rigged from the start."

I reference that quote because Nintendo has always dominated the handheld market, so it should come to no surprise that the Vita fails to compete, though it should come as a surprise just how much the Vita has utterly failed. It has managed to gain momentum in Japan after a price drop, but sales remain stagnant in the US. The reason for the Vita's failure, at least so far, is certainly not hardware, but rather Sony's lack of support of their own handheld. In other words, software sells hardware, and the Vita has a major lack of software. The most important factor to note is that the PSP is very cheap now but is still a fairly modern device that has tons of amazing games, so it is far more appealing to simply buy a PSP rather than the Vita. A perfect example of how Sony is neglecting the Vita is the lack of any upcoming Monster Hunter game being released for the system. Monster Hunter had several releases on PSP and greatly pushed sales, similar to how Pokemon always pushes sales on Nintendo handhelds. Now the tides have changed and the 3DS has Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and will soon be getting Monster Hunter 4 as an exclusive.

Monster Hunter 4 will be a 3DS exclusive.
Not only does the Vita has a small selection of actual good games, but after a year Sony has still not announced any upcoming games to get really excited about, which leads me to the main reason I'm writing this article now. April 2013's Nintendo Direct recently announced an outrageously good lineup of 3DS games all scheduled for a 2013 release. The announced games include a new Zelda and Yoshi's Island game, two of Nintendo's top selling and most critically acclaimed series. What does Sony have to fire back with? At least for now, nothing. This could of course change in the near future if Sony decides to surprise us all, but this is doubtful considering they are focusing their efforts on the launch of the recently debuted Playstation 4, Sony's next-generation home console set to compete with the Wii U and Xbox "Durango." With all eyes on the PS4, Sony likely has little room for marketing their powerful HD handheld.

Sony is busy with the PlayStation 4 upcoming launch.
Unfortunately, the Vita is not a bad handheld, just misunderstood. It carries a high price tag that can be compared to an extremely high end smart phone, lacks solid first-party and third-party support, and has nothing to defend itself against Nintendo's onslaught of new 3DS titles. I would love to buy a Vita, but I just can't, and many others feel the same. Software sells hardware, not the other way around. We saw this a few years ago when Android had very little to offer in terms of apps and iOS was the uncontested king. With support of a fair amount of fantastic Japanese developers and publishers, the Vita is a great handheld for a niche audience, but there is nothing about it that can capture the mainstream market.


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