The Playstation Vita was a star at this years E3, showing off many of its features during and after the Sony press conference earlier last month. Competitively priced at $249.99 for the basic Wi-Fi model, it seems to be a major competitor for Nintendo’s 3DS this holiday season. The Vita boasts two analogue sticks and a front and rear multi-touch screen along with social features that rival a modern-day console such as the PS3. The games and tech demos shown for the device prove that the Vita can produce high quality visuals and effects as shown in this demo of a first generation Vita game engine.
To succeed in a Nintendo dominated market, the Vita requires more than great hardware and a great price-point. It needs to have an identity in the software market as well. Games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and LittleBigPlanet Vita show that there can be a console-like experience on a handheld device, but this idea may backfire on Sony. For example, look back at the Wii and its software. Most multi-platform games that were on the Wii showed significant differences in quality when compared to its counterparts on the other platform(s). The Vita, with its console-like controls and visuals, may suffer from mediocre console ports just as the Wii has for the past 4 years unless developers find a way to make the game just as enjoyable on the Vita as it is on the other platforms.
In addition to avoiding consolitus (as I call it), the Vita must have a steady flow of new games onto the platform. The PSP, when compared to the PS3, has had fewer first party games from Sony and had to rely on a lot of third party support for exclusive games. Sony must dedicate a few more studios for exclusive games or give a reason for developers to create exclusive content for the handheld. Otherwise, the customers who buy it for its exclusive games and content will surely be disappointed with the Vita’s quantity of software.
Overall, the Vita is an astounding revolution in hardware, but it has a chance at falling to bad console ports and a steady flow of quality games from Sony and/or third party developers. If Sony and other developers push the Vita enough, the device will be a proud addition to many gamers’ libraries.