The PlayStation Vita is Sony’s follow up to the PSP and next generation extension into the handheld gaming market. Originally codenamed as the NGP, next generation portable, the goal of the new handheld for Sony was to bring a true PlayStation console-like experience on the go. A lot of the hardware contained inside the Vita has allowed for some great looking titles to grace the platform, including games like Uncharted Golden Abyss. Yet despite the positives the Vita presents, there is a lingering cloud of doubt and insecurity that brings into question the overall reception and Sony’s handling of the Vita up until now. This doesn’t mean that the Vita has been a failure for everyone out there, but it has been a reasonable disappointment for some.
To understand the state of the PS Vita now, one has to understand the basic concepts of both a failure and a success. A failure would imply that the handheld was so terrible that nobody wanted to buy it, nor give any sort of positive word of mouth. At the same time, a success would imply that everyone has bought the system, and you will always see someone walking around with one in hand. The PS Vita is neither one of those at its current state since the handheld has been released. The word of mouth about the system has been a mixed bag of positive and negative, and it has been somewhat difficult to find others with a Vita easily, as Kotaku’s Stephen Totillo once showed during his trip to PAX.
PS Vita has become a disappointment mainly due to circumstances outside of the handheld’s control. While everything about the handheld itself, including features and software, are a major improvement over the PSP, the reception has been rocky at best. One of the biggest reasons for this is the alleged lack of games available for the platform. While this is not completely true for the Vita’s lineup of games, there is a partial validity to this statement. There are a variety of games available both at retail and for digital download for the Vita, but very few must-own titles that help justify owning a Vita in the first place. Despite having a strong launch filled with plenty of games, there was not a single game that really inspired the masses to run out to stores and purchase a Vita. Some have argued that such titles like Uncharted Golden Abyss, Super Stardust HD, and Zero Escape were the system sellers for Vita, but each has failed to generate enough buzz and excitement to result in massive sales for Sony.
In addition to most of the games on the platform not having enough impact on legions of gamers out there, the many different ports of games from the PS3 also contribute to the Vita’s problems. While Cross-Buy is an interesting and very valuable practice for any consumer of games, having to buy titles on Vita that are already available on PS3 not through Cross-Buy do not add enough reason to justify buying games for the platform, much less the purchase of a new handheld. There are many gamers that would love to have a console like experience on the go, which definitely fulfills the goal for Vita’s existence, but would rather play such games on a home console rather than spend more money on the same experience on expensive new hardware. Only the die-hard of die-hard fans would purchase multiple copies of a game over various systems, such a group is not enough to make Vita a significant success for Sony.
Yet the most influential cause for PS Vita being a disappointment is Sony’s lax attitude in supporting their new handheld. It is commendable of Sony for really supporting and being excited about Vita before and during launch, yet their support has all but dwindled since then. This can be mostly due to shifting focus towards plans for PS3, or for whatever may be coming after, after having a strong launch for Vita. However this lack of attention for Vita has become detrimental to Vita’s image and discouraged some gamers from purchasing the handheld. This could also be the catalyst for some titles being lackluster from shaky support by developers and publishers, resulting in games like Resistance Burning Skies and Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified that could have been amazing, but faltered greatly.
Even with all of these issues that PS Vita is facing, the system is still not a failure. While most Sony haters and trolls would be more than eager to call anything Sony F-L-O-P-S (Failure Like Other PlayStation Stuff), there are still small gleams of hope that give optimism for Vita owners. Games like Persona 4 Golden, Escape Plan, Little Big Planet PS Vita, and Sound Shapes all help showcase the Vita’s capabilities at best and are examples of what can be done well with the system. Yet more still needs to be done by Sony to convince gamers of the continuous value for owning a PS Vita, as well as convince outsiders to purchase the handheld. A combination of more great, original, and exclusive titles for Vita and support will help change the perception of Vita into a more positive light. For now though as things are not what anyone would like them to be, a spade must be called a spade and not a diamond. The Vita is a disappointment at the moment, not a failure, but definitely a disappointment.