Vita fans are a very resilient bunch. It seems that every so often, a new challenge is thrown in the way of their pursuit of system satisfaction, and the latest bone of contention revolves around release dates; or more specifically release parity.

Perhaps we have been spoilt? After all we have been very lucky and a huge amount of titles, and more to the point, indie titles enjoy simultaneous release dates (and cross-buy) with their PS4 and PS3 counterparts, thanks in no part to the talented and experienced studios working with these titles.

In recent months however, there have been quite a few notable Vita absences. Teslagrad, Bastion, Axiom Verge, Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty and many others have all been subject to delays for their Vita versions and I’m not so sure that Spry Fox’s Road Not Taken is ever going to come. Nom Nom Galaxy has been canned altogether, whilst the upcoming Mighty No. 9 is also not going to release at the same time as its console equivalents. It doesn’t stop there either, with Vita versions of Borderlands 2, Minecraft, Disney Infinity 2.0 and Resident Evil Revelations 2 failing to arrive at the same time as their console counterparts, and as I started writing this piece, Galak-Z was also essentially cancelled.

Bastion

It certainly seems that Vita owners are getting the short shrift of the situation. Now don’t get me wrong, of course I would much rather have these games than not – only a fool would say otherwise, but I can’t help but think that delays only impact the effectiveness of the title in the long run.

The most noise seems to be made for the PS4 version, and you can understand that to a degree. It’s the far more successful and popular system and, if you want to maximise the impact that your game can make, you are going to want to push it on the more prominent device; it’s simple business sense and gamers – and especially Vita owners – often forget that gaming is a business.

The problem is, however, that usually these games (particularly indies) are cross-buy enabled. When the Vita version finally arrives, it’s going to be released with very little fanfare or mention and can very easily slip under the radar. Prominent gaming websites are already not discussing Vita options of games, and when it does come out they will already have covered it, and not be all that interested in covering again; for them it has had its day. With many gamers not taking up the offer to grab the Vita version of the game, it is effectively wasting however much money was ploughed into continuing development.

Nom Nom Galaxy 2

For the most part I can sympathise with developers. With limited resources and time available, developing for multiple platforms at once can be very difficult, and that is before the lack of horsepower that the Vita has compared to some of these other systems is accounted for. As these games become more ambitious, I suppose it was inevitable that the Vita would begin to struggle.

Regardless of any understanding for the circumstances of delays, I personally feel that by releasing versions separately you are ultimately impacting the future performance of the title. By the time you eventually release the game, will it have lost its relevance? Will it be released at the same time as something more high profile and therefore lost its chance? Or worse, people will already have played it on their PS4 and won’t fancy playing it again, cross-buy or not.

That last line is also true of Resident Evil Revelations 2. After we were told at December’s PlayStation Experience that it would be Vita-bound, Vita owners the world over were bemused as the episodic content was released for other systems and it was only when it had finished the chapters elsewhere were we told of the handheld versions fate.

Resident-Evil-Revelations-Ge

This “summer” and not developed in house, but ported by a studio best known for indie titles. When it finally arrives, will it have lost any momentum it could have built up? And with no disrespect to Frima Studios, are people already doubting how good the port will be? Not only that, with an 18th August release date it’s going head-to-head with one of the most anticipated independent titles this year in Mike Bithell’s Volume – which has the Vita version releasing at the same time as the PS4 version…*

The Vita is struggling in the marketplace, this is not brand new information. It’s just frustrating and ludicrous to me that something that has found its niche as a haven for indie titles and specialist games is now starting to have them delayed and put on something that already has the titles that the Vita does not. What is the aim here, to make the Vita even more irrelevant?

roadnottaken_1

We would all of course prefer that developers take their time, we would all rather get a working and effective game rather than something rushed to meet a deadline, but as many other developers do manage to release multiple editions at the same time is it too much to ask that everyone tries to do the same? If not for the sake of the Vita’s library, but for the performance of the game itself.

After all, you still want the Vita version to sell, you don’t want to have developed it and then have it flop, right?

This editorial first appeared in issue four of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Look out for more opinion pieces in future issues!

* When this article was first written (for the issue 4 deadline of July 31st) we did not know that Volume for the Vita would be delayed. It’s actually quite ironic that the delay was announced the day the magazine launched and probably illustrates the point of the article even more!

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Paul founded The Vita Lounge and is the Executive Editor, but still likes to get involved with the odd piece of news or a review. 35 years young and gaming since 1990, he has a preference for Action/RPG games, Shooters, Racing Games (despite ironically not being able to drive!) and quite partial to a game of FIFA.
  • sand

    Good article. I’m fine with the vita just being an indie gaming machine, but it doesn’t look good when indie games get delayed for weeks or months after the PS4 version. Like you said the games will hardly sell on vita because all the attention was on the original launch and that will lead to lower vita sales of the game and will in turn discourage devs from producing games for vita.
    It’s a shame but at least remote play keep it relevant for me. And if sony can sort out the pricing for ps now I’ll happily use my vita to stream PS3 games.
    Hopefully play station experience will have some good news for us

  • Dchaundy1

    Great article – the vita is seriously my favourite handheld and I’ve owned alot of them: gameboy, gamegear, gba, ds, 3ds etc.

    Just wish it was shown a little more love by developers, western publishers and most of all Sony:/

  • Karl Smith

    First up, very great article. The PSVita is a 4 year old console and the PS4 was only just released 2 years ago in their life cycles. The reason why indie developers are focusing on making games for PS4 is because. The Vita just doesn’t seem to have enough power to run their games because Sony didn’t even upgrade the Vita’s GPU properly. The sad thing is, latest smart devices from Samsung and Apple have a much stronger GPU than the Vita.

    Making games for both the Vita and the PS4 using the Unity engine can be a tricky task for indies. I also fear that a few games might suffer the same cancellations like N&T for example, Oddworld is making New & Tasty for the Wii U while the PSVita version might be on hold because of it.

    And what’s even worse. Most people may have already played other versions of the games before the Vita’s release, causing the game not to sell well on Vita. It’s always the Vita that gets the short end of the stick. And if you look on the 3DS side. It has so many great games, most are exclusive to the system such as Fantasy Life from Level-5 and EVEN Kingdom Hearts 3D from Square Enix. And most indies are released first on 3DS.

    Oh and what’s worse, no cross-saves for Disney Infinity 2.0 and Resident Evil Revelations 2.

  • darkknezz

    And volume for Vita was delayed as of this writing. Great article and very true. Vita is my favorite handheld by far and I’ve had a bunch. Gameboy, gameboy advance, neo geo pocket, NDS, 3ds xl, PSP, PSP go and of course Vita.

    • Karl Smith

      This is the problem. Most of the newer indie games were designed to work on the PS4 and ports just do not work for the system. Look how Super Time Force Ultra came out. The game ran 60fps on PS4 and the PSVita ran horribly slow all thanks to the same guys who ported Street Fighter IV on PS4, Other Ocean.

      • darkknezz

        I tried STFU last night and thought it ran well

      • Steve Jaworski

        I’ve been playing it like crazy on Vita (STF) and it runs fine.

  • Ali Johnson

    Hmmmm what’s it gonna be as for the vitas future ? Only Sony knows and doesn’t care 🙁

  • Yoyitsu

    We do seem to be getting the short end of the stick. I try my best to hold myself till the Vita version of the game arrives or simply buy it on sale and not play it till the Vita version arrives, I did this with Bastion and Oddworld.
    The problem is that a lot of game companies just don’t seem to care. For example, Disney announced Infinity 3.0 a couple of days before the Vita version of 2.0 arrive in stores and there was no announcement of a Vita version for 3.0. Borderlands 2 came out the same year as the pre-sequel and soon after came the Borderlands Collection with a superior version of 2 and all DLCs. Devs don’t seem to care if we get an inferior port of their old game when the new one is coming out. When logically it would be better port the newer game and get it as close to release as possible than to waste money on their older game when everyone is looking forward to the new one.

  • Rodolfo Ferreira

    This great article serves us the purpose of stating the Vita is officially “late for the party” for the last couple of months. This is just one other bad “attribute” sony has helped the Vita achieve.
    That’s right, sony made it possible. Ever pictured this happening with their console? Not in a hundred years, you’d say. That’s because sony covers the ps4 while leaving us behind to eat the leftovers. What else can you expect from this company? PS Vita “middle finger to the gamers” edition? Oh wait, there’s a blue Vita for $199, so there you go.
    sony has no idea what the Vita is for. They made it lose its own identity with the “pstv”. That’s when you know a company has messed up with their own product. Back in 2011 Kaz Hirai once said “Vita means life”. If you asked him “and what’s this handheld for?”, his honest answer should have been something like “waste your money”.
    The Vita is collecting games – postponed, canned and off-the-radar ones. This adds up to the rest of bad attributes I said earlier. An overpriced memory card. Lack of features for the third year. We’ve being around for three years and “so far”, we can’t change our own avatars, it requires a ps3 to do so. 1 in 86 gamers use near and s/he barely knows what it’s for. Loading times on the handheld is outrageous. sony keeps hiding their own handheld from public events. When we get an announcement from their official reps, it’s to say “we no longer support the handheld with AA titles” – shuhei has done it twice.

    The only question that remains is, what’s the company’s next move to make their own handheld even less relevant?

  • WillMerfi

    I’m realistic. Due to the user base, Vita will not be a development priority. The way I see it, as long as we get the game on the Vita, I’m happy. The alternative would be not getting these games at all.

    • Nonscpo

      Agreed!

  • uwot8

    what happened to papers please?