Right now is the best time to own a PSVita.

Launching originally in February of 2012 (in English speaking territories), the PlayStation Vita has been a unique contender in the video game market to say the least. Despite excellent hardware, a solid set of launch titles and a solid base of potential users grown from its predecessor (the PSP having sold over 70 million units at the time); the PlayStation Vita had a lackluster first year – pumping out a few decent titles post-launch but nothing truly amazing. The lack of heavy advertising didn’t help, as nobody seemed to even know about the Vita in order to buy it in the first place. This has all begun to change, however; as the PSVita has started to gain some steam in year two.

Games (specifically a growing selection of great ones).

Over the first year, eight games currently on our top twenty-five were released – seeing as how we haven’t yet reached year two (just over seven months in), it’s safe to say we’ve had many more good games in year two of the Vita than year one. Double the must-have titles in nearly half the time is quite the accomplishment – showing that the Vita is not only growing, but growing at a significant rate regarding the quality of the software. Quantity doesn’t seem to be a problem either, as we quickly approach three hundred unique titles over the three main regions.

Exclusives.

Speaking of games, have we told you about the amazing exclusives the PlayStation Vita has to offer? Dokuro, Gravity Rush, Killzone: Mercenary, LittleBigPlanet PSVita, Soul Sacrifice and Uncharted: Golden Abyss are the big ones, but there are more announced and released every day. Demon Gaze, Freedom Wars, Gravity Rush 2, Sorcery Saga, Tearaway, Valhalla Knights and Y’s Memories of Celceta are a few of those upcoming exclusives – and I’m sure more are yet to be known.

Indies.

There are also some amazing indies on the Vita, including Guacamelee, Limbo, Hotline Miami, Dragon Fantasy Book, Germinator, Retro City Rampage, Sound Shapes, Mutant Blobs Attack, Urban Trial Freestyle and Zombie Tycoon 2. The PlayStation Vita has become a safe haven for independent games under Shahid Kamal, giving us a wide selection of the best games we might not have had a chance to play otherwise. Watching his Twitter, I’ve often seen him stay up long past his “I’m going to bed now” time to talk to studios about new games – a promising factor in the future of the PSVita’s indie catalog.

Backwards Compatibility.

Want to play a PlayStation One game you loved or a PlayStation Portable game you missed out on? As long as it’s licensed in your region you’ll have no problem playing it on your shiny new Vita. The PlayStation Vita is compatible with most of the PSOne and PSP titles available in your regional PlayStation Store. PSOne games you bought for PS3 are directly compatible with the Vita, as are PSPgo games – though UMD releases were only transferable in Japan. Personally, I think a lot of the PSOne and PSP games actually look better on the Vita – though that’s definitely not a universal truth.

Cross-Buy (and cross-connectivity).

Cross-buy rewards multiple console owners with two games for the price of one – allowing you to play titles and DLC on both Vita and PS3 without paying twice. Likewise, cross-play allows you to play across multiple consoles – syncing things like trophies and progress, as well as allowing you to literally play across consoles (ie; a PS3 player versus a Vita player in an online match). Some games also feature cross0controller functionality, allowing you to use the Vita as a controller for a PlayStation 3 game when you have both the required PS3 game and Vita game (namely a LittleBigPlanet 2 DLC pack/LittleBigPlanet PSVita combination as well as Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as of this writing).

PlayStation Plus.

PlayStation Plus is also a big reason to own a Vita. With over twelve great games a year free to members and plenty of discounts and exclusive sales – you can fill up on games to play much easier with this service. Games like Rayman Origins, Dokuro, Virtue’s Last Reward and Hotline Miami are made available for free monthly, with the Instant Game Collection offering games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush for longer periods of time before a change. Games you get free for PlayStation Plus are free to you for as long as you subscribe to the service (it’s like a rental service that only requires you to return items if you cancel your membership) – though anything you buy at a discount is yours to play no matter what you choose to do in the future.

Mega Packs.

There are also PSVita Mega Packs in Europe, offering more than a handful of games and an 8GB card to put them on for only €39.99 or so. Current Mega Pack themes include Disney, Racing & Sports and the original variety pack (including LittleBigPlanet PSVita, Wipeout 2048, Motorstorm RC and more) but we expect many more to be released as they seem to be a hot item (bigger memory cards might bolster sales, even). Mega Packs offer a cheap entry point to the market for new Vita owners you haven’t picked up a bundle; a bunch of games and some storage space is a good thing to have when you’ve just picked up the greatest portable available.

Memory Card prices have finally been dropped.

Though still not as cheap as a standard SD card, PlayStation Vita Memory Cards have been dropped in price in many regions. 4GB cards are now $14.99 (originally $19.99), 8GB cards are now $19.99 (originally $29.99), and both the 16GB (now $39.99) and 32GB ($79.99) have been slashed by $20 to get to their new “low” prices in North America.  Right after things get cheaper is always a good time to jump in on something – you know you’re getting a deal and you know you’re not likely to get undercut any time soon.

Price drop on OLED model.

If you’re getting a Vita, you’re probably going to want one with an OLED screen (as good as they say the new LCD is – get real) and they’ve just come down in price. $199 in North America / €199 in Europe for an OLED Vita is a good deal, and you can often find bundles at that price too. There’s really nothing wrong with the original Vita that the second model “fixed”; it’s just an alternative with a few minor tweaks and adjustments – so unless you really want it a certain colour back panel or that extra little bit of battery life, you needn’t wait to pick one up.

PSVita TV.

That is to say, you shouldn’t wait unless you’re looking for a PSVita TV. The recently announced PSVita TV will be hitting Japan November 14th, with plans to hit the Asian market in January – and no release date yet for the European and North American regions. That said, the response to the half-breed console in the other main regions (NA/EU) has been overwhelming, so it’s likely we’ll end up seeing it here soon after the Asian release. Keep in mind that while the PSVita TV plays most of the games the PSVita does, it will not play games that require a PSVita-specific hardware peripheral (such as the touchscreen, touchpad or cameras) – this means that games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush or Killzone: Mercenary won’t be playable in their current state. The $100-or-so price tag is pretty pleasing to the eye though; as are the ability to remote play PS4 games through this micro-console and the fact that Gaikai will be available in 2014. The wait is a bit of a negative, though – with no set date for release outside those two markets being the main reason you might want to look into an OG model Vita for now.

PlayStation 4.

If you’re buying a PlayStation 4, it’s the perfect companion system – remote play is a dominant force when it comes to the PlayStation Vita, even now. People use the custom firmware hacking scene to rig both their PlayStation 3 and Vita to remote play PS3 games that don’t officially support it – circumventing the benefits of the latest firmware and even online play just to be able to play their high quality games on the go. It doesn’t always work the smoothest, but they don’t care; the benefit and awe of being able to play games like Bioshock Infinite or Red Dead Redemption on their Vita outweighs the tiny issues they may have. When PlayStation 4 hits, remote play will be seamless and smooth – unlike the PlayStation 3 the PlayStation 4 has more than enough “horsepower” to output a smooth stream while catching incoming button presses with imperceptible lag from both (which is all remote play is). Also you won’t have to sacrifice anything to use it; the PSVita and PS4 will support remote play of all PlayStation 4 games that don’t require a peripheral (camera, move, etc.) to be played.

PlayStation Vita owners are probably the biggest drive of console sales.

Word of mouth has been the biggest push for the PlayStation Vita, far beyond any marketing they’ve done up ’til the last few months. PlayStation Vita owners are telling their friends about this console, pushing them to get it and showing it off like a trophy. If you’re a gamer and you’ve seen a Vita in action, most of the time you want one yourself; the sheer awesomeness of a portable PlayStation with power on par with the current generation of home consoles is something hard to resist. I’ve converted many a gamer to the PSVita lifestyle, and I’m sure a lot of the Vita owners I’ve come in contact with have done the same. It’s not unusual in the Vita community to hear “I just bought a Vita for my [insert person with ties to them here]” or “[a person with ties to them] just bought a Vita after I showed them mine!” – the Vita has that flashy need-to-have-it aura around it, akin to the iPhone effect of… well, now. If something’s that good that it has people converting the non-owning heathens into devout followers, it’s definitely worth a look. Bonus points for not involving poisoned kool-aide or ritual sacrifice.

Then there are the same reasons you should’ve bought one when it came out…

The Hardware.

A quad core powerhouse of a mobile processor paired with a decent graphics processor, beautiful 5″ qHD screen, dual analog sticks and 4-9 hours of battery life… this thing not only looks great, but performs well. In every aspect of power, this is the top of the line for portable gaming; the PlayStation Vita has a lot of potential.

The Portability.

Need to game on the go? Take a PSVita with you – you won’t be disappointed. Whether you’re just looking for something to play on the ride to work or a long term distraction, there’s something to fill that need on the Vita. Some games are modeled with bite-size levels while others are get-comfy type long – giving gamers a choice for how to play their Vita and how best to use their time. With a battery life between four and eight hours depending on usage, you won’t have to charge too often either; though it’s a powerhouse it’s got a decent battery capacity as well.

The Brand.

PlayStation means quality – their entire line of consoles has a great track record in sales and longevity, as well as a low failure rate. They are supported for a long time (look at the PSP/PS2) and are always looking for ways to better themselves. Their presence at E3, Gamescom and the Tokyo Game Show this year has shown they enjoy the good press that comes with giving the gamer what they want; this is a quality you want from the guys who make your console.

It only does everything.

Not only can you play games, but you can do other things with your Vita as well. The PlayStation Vita comes standard with apps for music, video, pictures, web browsing, email, maps, friends, PSN messaging, audio/party chat, remote play and more. You can use content manager to transfer content to and from your PS3/PC, as well as trophy manager to sync your earned trophies to the PSN. There’s a PlayStation Store app for downloading demos, games and other media as well as a program called Near which allows you to see what people around you are playing and share in-game items and features. You can get apps for popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook, as well as other popular services like Skype and Youtube – all available on the PSN Store (though availability varies by region). With the 3G version you can even do all this on the go – though there’s a limit on 3G data usage in some scenarios. A tethered phone works even better, but be prepared to pay since data isn’t cheap in most areas.

As I said; right now is the best time to own a PSVita.

The games, PlayStation Plus, that beautiful OLED screen on the original Vita, Mega Packs, memory card prices, the PSVita price drop, remote play, the hardware, portability, the trusted brand and the sheer amount of uses make owning the PlayStation Vita a no-brainer. Being a Vita owner is only going to get better – the party is really just starting as year two ramps up with PSVita growth in all sectors.

I leave you with a few screenshots from some of the best games on the system, enjoy.

  • hesoyamdonMonster

    their should be ps3 remote feature in vita and ps2 compatiblity

  • Baran Altuncu

    Best time to buy a Vita, with the Vita TV coming out. Developers are going to start making so many more games for the Vita.

  • Mauricio Quintero

    It is posible to use the voita as another controller?

    • Kyle Wakeling

      Cross-controller is only supported when pairing LittleBigPlanet PSVita and LittleBigPlanet 2 (with the cross controller DLC), or both versions of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It doesn’t work for every game.

  • HΣNRIΚ ΦSΤΜΟΣ

    The Vita is a great device!

  • XtemmA2

    Best time to show this article to friends.
    Good job, Kyle!

    • Kyle Wakeling

      You hit the nail on the head there; that was my motivation for writing it – spreading the word 😉

  • ExcaliburEdge

    Basically, almost every ps4 game will also be a vita game (when you’re connected). I can’t wait!