Room for the Vita on the 20th, Sony?

With just over a week to go to the Future of PlayStation event scheduled for February 20th in New York all eyes are on a PlayStation 4 or “Orbis” reveal.

But what about Sony’s portable the PlayStation Vita? Has Sony got any exciting news regarding their premium handheld at the upcoming event?

It’s a well known fact that sales for the handheld are well below expectations, with the recent sales forecast being cut again by Sony from 10 million to 7 million, including sales for the PSP. It’s clear that some changes are needed and some issues need to be addressed.

The future of PlayStation is the message that Sony are portraying this month so this should also include the Vita and what they plan on doing to boost sales and secure more third party support, something that is badly needed in order for the console to grow its audience.

Here at the Lounge we all think that the Vita is a great and very powerful handheld with a good software library and features like online and PS Plus also add to the appeal but with the apparent shift from dedicated handhelds to mobile platforms like phones and tablets what can Sony do to keep the Vita relevant to a broad spectrum of gamer?

The best way to play games on the go will always be better with a dedicated handheld like the Vita for the simple fact it features dual analogue sticks and physical buttons, something that can’t be stressed enough is that these things are needed if your to have any kind of deep and rewarding game play design and mechanics. Casual games are all well and good and indeed some are very enjoyable but touch controls can never replicate physical buttons in my opinion.

What kind of news could Sony announce for the Vita that wound boost sales and make the handheld a more attractive purchase for a wider demographic?

The first thing that could be addressed is price, I’m not saying a price drop overall is what’s needed per say but a look at the overall pricing structure needs to be addressed across the board. The RRP is one thing but what about the price of memory cards?

The price for retail boxed games and PSN content? A more uniformed structure needs implementing, a price cut is a start but every console should automatically come with a 8GB card as standard as the lack of on board memory and a requirement of a memory card is a big turn off for potential buyers. Wouldn’t a better strategy be to get people on board as easily and as cheaply as possible and then make the money from things that people would want to buy like games and services instead of “conning” customers in to buying things that they must have in order to maintain basic functionality?

ps_vita_teardown-580x434A redesigned Vita could also help Sony achieve these goals, I’m not sure how close Sony is to a redesign if indeed there is one but this could help their cause no end. A Vita with built in memory similar to the PSP Go that is cheaper to manufacture would go a long way to getting potential customers on the fence to jump in or as Sony puts it the world is in play.

Retail games and digital content could also do with a overhaul regarding pricing -outlined here by Paul. It’s a well know fact that pricing structures are out of sync. I mean why would I buy a game on the PlayStation network for £35.00 when I could purchase a boxed copy for £8.00 in a sale online? I know it’s easy to just look at the price and I realize that retailers have clearance sales with old stock and so on but there are two main issues that could help resolve this and drive sales. One is keep the RRP to a respectful level with an even price plan across the board for retail releases and on the PlayStation Network. Games like Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Assassins Creed 3: Liberation and Black Ops Declassified as examples, Sony should try to keep prices low to soothing like £30 really. I’m well aware that publishers have a say on prices but Sony needs to step up and enforce a better rounded pricing structure.

Games priced at £44.00 on the PlayStation network or other wise are just going to be another nail in the coffin for the Vita. A good idea for Sony regarding content on the PSN is regular sales like the one that is currently running with the one year anniversary sale. Some of the games that are available offer incredible savings, this makes people want to buy games that they wouldn’t necessary buy due to costs and brings the digital content in line with retail boxed sales. Sony could implement more sales, more often. They don’t need to offer every game over long periods of time but maybe try things like game of the week with 75% off? or two games a month at 50% off? I’m sure more people would then buy these games and intern feel like their getting a bargain. Getting a great bargain in a gamer’s mind is just as important as the content itself. They could offer these sales for just a few days to maybe drive interest? This would make people check the store more often if they knew something special was upcoming in the form of deals or sales.

7921947876_4d971ae4b4Sony also has a fantastic opportunity, if their smart and that’s to make the Vita relevant with the upcoming next generation PlayStation. We all know that the Vita interacts with the PS3 but only to the extent that the PSP was able to do. We can play the odd game via remote play and cross controller games like Little Big Planet 2 work well enough but for the most part having a Vita interact with the PS3 is no different than having a PSP do the same thing. A master stroke would be making the Vita interact with the PS4 in such a way that it makes people want to buy a Vita to enhance their functionality with their shiny new “next gen machine”. Remote play with all content would be a fantastic feature, more interaction with stats and social content that links the two devices together would also add to the appeal. These interactions of course need to implemented in such a fashion that makes sense and is easy to execute for the end user. It’s no good having features where you have to jump through hopes to get these things up and running. With the new console I’m sure they could implement some really good connectivity that works from the get go, is enjoyable for the user as well as being essential and beneficial to the game or application. I know if my Vita could “talk” to my PlayStation 4, if that is indeed that name with no fuss that enhances my gaming enjoyment I would be all over it.

Imagine playing a game where you not only could play it via remote play in your house, kind of like the Nintendo WiiU but carry certain forms of that game out and about via a small download or through the cloud? so you could tune a car on Gran Turismo 6 for example on your Vita while your away and it then uploads it to the cloud ready for you to play when you get home? or do some trading with content in a RPG with other users online via social networks and having it effect or change your game when you play it next on your PlayStation 4? The scenarios are endless and I’m sure with the new console design such interesting and useful features could be implemented to make purchasing a Vita more attractive and at the same time making it more enjoyable for existing customers.

sony-buys-gaikai-modsGaikai is another tool Sony could use to bolster the future of the Vita as well as their next console, last year the service was picked up by Sony. Since then there has been little to no news on what will happen with this technology, will it be implemented in the next home console? will the Vita feature in their plans as well, if at all possible? Imagine streaming PlayStation games straight to your Vita? I’m not just talking about Vita games but all PlayStation games! right from the PS1 to the PS4? Not possible I hear yo say? well until Sony actually announces what they have planned for the service we can all dream. Seriously though Gaikai could become the killer app for the Vita and the next gen console. It’s clear Sony needs to move with the times, they have a fantastic handheld on the market that somehow has gotten lost in the midst of the current trend of social, mobile and tablet gaming and interaction, with the upcoming release this year with their next gen console Sony have a real opportunity to bring the Vita bang up to date and make dedicated handheld gaming relevant to a wider market.

I really think Sony are trying to get more 3rdthird party publishers on board and I appreciate this task is no easy feat but they really do need to aggressively push in this area, small developers to big, every one of them important to the success of the handheld. Convincing these people to make games for your system is a must, advertising, PSN features, sales and bonus content could all be implemented to help make these games sell. The more sales these games get the more likely other developers will be interested in creating unique content for the Vita. The right software does sell as indicated by the 600,000 sales recently announced by UBI Soft for Assassins Creed 3: Liberation. A good quality product always sells if it is advertised and presented well, Just imagine how many sales a “proper” Black Ops 2 would of racked up? maybe a a couple of million?

Sony_ps3_gran_turismoIn recent news Sony has signed up a new advertising agency, lets just hope that who ever commission’s adverts and sales pitches does a better job than the last six years because lets face it Son’y advertising is a complete mess, it’s not necessarily the amount of advertising that needs addressing but the type and targeting. Advertising more specific to the product your selling, more hype and exact details would help no end, I mean who knew what the hell Sony was trying to sell us with the first wave of Vita ads? A World War II film? A boxing game? With a couple of seconds at the end showing a Vita! I mean who the hell even knew what a Vita was at that time? what does it do? Never mind what or who it was for? Some serious issues need sorting out in this department, not just for the Vita but all PlayStation products. Lets hope that the latest changes with the advertising agency finally fixes some of these faults.

Indeed times have changed and more people will be inclined to just carry a phone around and ignore devices like the Vita but the fact remains that a large install base of gamer’s are there for the taking, Sony just needs to figure out ways to entice these people into purchasing a Vita. Pricing, content, connectivity and market awareness could all do with a overhaul and vastly improving, Sony has a real chance to address all these issues this year with the impending next gen release of the PlayStation 4 and at the “Future Of  PlayStation” event next week. Let’s just hope the Vita does indeed feature in Sony’s plans for the future of PlayStation because I would hate to see a great handheld, dedicated or otherwise lost to the pages of history due to mismanagement and to the simple fact that you MUST give your customers what they want.

The Vita is here and now Sony, maybe it’s time to get aggressive and think outside the box?

What do you think next weeks PlayStation revel will say about the Vita? What needs to change? Let us know in the comments.

 

  • I agree on pricing and Gakai. £80 for a 32gb is ridiculous. I had to get a 16gb because I couldn’t afford one. 64gb cards should be available for that price. 32gb cards shouldn’t be more than £30. Sony would still make a profit. Gakai will be interesting and I suspect it may appear on the 20th with the other news.