EGX London – formerly known as the Eurogamer Expo – is the UK’s biggest gaming event and is run by the team behind Eurogamer for four days every September and we have been in attendance each year since we began. Last year over 70,000 people attended the show to experience the latest games that will be soon arriving on gaming platforms.
This was easily the most impressive show that I have been to yet as a gamer, and it just seems to get even more spectacular with every passing year. The PlayStation section in particular was very impressive with over 200 PlayStation 4 pods showcasing many upcoming games, four massive screens showing off PlayStation content, a Twitter wall, a PS Plus exclusive lounge as well as a Double-Decker bus kitted out with LED displays and PlayStation imagery. You would struggle to find anyone that wasn’t impressed with the effort that Sony put into the PlayStation section, except for one area. You guessed it – it’s the Vita…
Given the lack of focus that the platform has been afforded at gaming events over the course of the year it’s hardly a surprise, but I must admit even I was flabbergasted by what I saw. Tucked away in the corner, away from the myriad of PS4 consoles, were two pillars and a solitary wall emblazoned with imagery from the latest UK Vita advert. Sitting in this area was a grand total of four Vita units – downstairs at least.
What was equally frustrating was presentation of many of the indie games also available for the PS4. There were many there on the floor, with the EGX announced OlliOlli2, Assault Android Cactus, Oddworld; New ‘n’ Tasty, BroForce, Final Horizon, Nuclear Throne, Nom Nom Galaxy, Super Exploding Zoo, Galak-Z, Futuridium, Helldivers, Nidhogg and Hotline Miami 2 all coming to the Vita and all playable at EGX – but only on PS4, and none of them had any Vita branding. From a Vita exposure perspective it’s a disaster and extremely baffling.
The games that were playable on the units were Don’t Starve, Minecraft PS Vita (which switched out for Murasaki Baby on the Saturday), Big Fest and Flame Over – which was also playable upstairs on the Laughing Jackal stand. As you can see from the picture above, it was tucked away in the corner and felt very secluded from the rest of the show. Minecraft in particular was a disappointment because it’s a phenomenon. The possible effect for the Vita from a truly portable version of Minecraft seems to have been overlooked, and a missed opportunity.
I caught one gamer leaving the PS4 version of Minecraft who was then approached by the chap on the Vita section. Before the guy could explain what the Vita was, or even that it had Minecraft the punter said “nah it looks shit”. It has the same game you were just playing on it – well, it will when it gets through certification!
In the Rezzed section upstairs things were marginally better with Futurlab showing off the fabulous Velocity 2X, although despite having Vita versions playable the stand had no Vita branding, opting for purely PS4 logos. This was not down to Futurlab, as they told me that they had requested both console logos but that was how EGX provided the artwork. As mentioned above there was a place for the team from Laughing Jackal and their fire fighting shooter Flame Over – which is well worth looking at when it comes out layer this year. The Vita support was completed with Minutes from Red Phantom Games, which is an abstract action game and was very addictive (before too long I had easily spent thirty minutes playing it). I’ll cover these games in more detail by the end of the week, but that was really all there was; even the obligatory GAME store that was present in the exhibition centre had nothing for the Vita, at least from what I could see. It’s almost like it didn’t exist.
With Freedom Wars out at the end of October as well as the November release of Tales of Hearts R not too far away – and these arguably being the most anticipated titles coming – it was extremely strange that they weren’t there… especially considering they were playable at PAX just last month. It’s equally frustrating when the PlayStation representatives that I spoke with do have a passion for the Vita, but this really wasn’t represented on the show floor. How hard would it really have been to have had a few more Vita units, or to mention that these games are also coming to the system? They had a Double-Decker bus for crying out loud – that would have been a perfect gimmick to have had Vita units in to show off the portability and make a bit of noise about the system.
I was told that the Vita is currently performing far better than projections (and last year) in the UK, and this was very pleasing to hear, I have long championed the UK team for their efforts and those of us that do live in Britain will have recently seen the adverts on TV, albeit with a clearly younger demographic in mind. It just seems to have escaped the attention of those that arranged and booked everything here that a bit more coverage might have sold a few more.
Having attended EGX for the past three years it’s easily the worst showing yet for our favourite handheld. Although I enjoyed playing Minutes and Flame Over, you cannot say that the Vita focus was anything other than abysmal and seemed like both another kick in the teeth to Vita owners, and something hardly likely to entice new ones.
Maybe they should book us to represent the Vita next year?
Posted edited to reflect that Futurlab had requested dual branding for Velocity2X but it was not supplied.