Anyone that visits us regularly at The Vita Lounge knows that we are among the biggest supporters of the platform. However, it goes with the territory of being a Vita owner that we should never really get our hopes up with announcements. When you hear the news that Sony have called a meeting to announce the “slimmest” member of the PlayStation family, would you really have expected that a solitary colour, with a suggested RRP far in excess of what the previous incarnation is selling for was what they had in mind? It hardly seemed worth it.
Of course, being the only western area to have confirmed the release of the PCH-2000 system outside of Japan, SCE UK should be commended, it’s a very brave decision to have been the first to take it on, but have they completely missed the point of the redesign? The Vita’s poor fortunes have been very well documented over the last two years, and here PlayStation UK an had opportunity to potentially address a few issues, and set a precedent. Create some excitement for the coming year, but we for one have been left somewhat underwhelmed.
The first thing you need to know about the new Vita is that the OLED screen has been downgraded to an LCD one and the system has been tweeked to be lighter and slimmer. In Japan it was released in six different colour schemes – some of them quite catching – whilst the unit also boasts 1GB of internal memory and an improved battery life, handy for increased gaming on the go. The rear touch pad has been reduced in size and overall many people report that it is far more comfortable to hold, and at a cheaper price the unit sold quite well in the initial weeks on sale.
If you look at why the Vita hasn’t sold well, you could argue that colour choice and price would be on there somewhere, so releasing it in the same colour available with an RRP higher than you can currently purchase the original unit for seems extremely baffling. It remains to be seen what the actual price will be driven down to when the retailers start competing, but the current RRP is not realistically going to catch on. I also understand that shelf space is a valuable commodity with bricks and mortar shops but having a choice would have helped somewhat? And whatever has detered gamers from buying a Vita before is not going to change because the unit costs more, surely? PlayStation UK’s Fergal Gara has accepted that the RRP may be a little off the pace. If that is the most feasible current price for the unit, then perhaps it would have been better not announcing it until you can charge a lower price. Putting the emphasis onto retailers who already have a limited pool of retail games to drive sales for the system hasn’t worked out too well so far.
There is also the question of the meeting itself. Was it even worth calling the meeting for this? Many of us hoped – and expected – for far more. Where is the Vita TV? Revealing that would have been far more useful to many gamers, not only those looking to play selected Vita titles on a bigger screen, but also for the convenience of remote playing their PS4’s in another room. Where is the much needed 64GB memory card, or a welcome cut on the price of the cards? We saw a reduction after Gamescom 2013, but it simply wasn’t enough. Gamers are extremely annoyed with the price of the cards, which they see as an additional tax on the price of the unit. We abhor piracy completely, but this proprietary security measure is making gamers not buy the system completely on principal, which is therefore avoiding software sales. And yes, you can point to the additional memory in the 2000, however this is negated when you use a memory card and not really particularly useful.
We were told not to expect games and as such it would be foolish to lament the meeting for this, but it may have been useful for creating more anticipation, especially since games were actually discussed, albeit nothing new. The indie game bundle is very welcome, all of the games listed are decent quality and well worth buying and there were affectionate nods to the upcoming titles for the Vita, as well as a mention for Invizimals, which has already been released in some EU territories and in North America. Thanks guys. What about mentioning when we can expect Borderlands 2? Minecraft? Football Manager 2014? Sony are doing an amazing job with the PS4, making plenty of noise with every sales figure they can find and rightfully so; so it’s very easy to see that they don’t have the same attitude towards the Vita. Are the same marketing teams working on both platforms? If not, it might be an idea. Is this the best that can be expected this year? It suggests that there is very little to get excited about, which we very much hope isn’t that case. We know how quickly the tide can change, though, the work that Strategic Content have done has been amazing and this is expected to continue this year.
The Vita is almost two years old, and this was the perfect opportunity to start the year in style and set a marker out, defining their intentions to reinvigorate the Vita division this year, but it just seems that their announcement has had the opposite effect to what they intended, at least to me. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the slim is a great – and necessary step – towards taking steps forward with the Vita, but if you don’t learn from your mistakes it will all be for nothing.