For many people, getting multiple versions of the same game for one price seems a no-brainer and Cross-Buy has become an established part of the PlayStation ecosystem – especially for indie titles. However, could this cost-saving exercise actually be a bad thing? We look at two differing opinions.

YES – Paul Murphy, Founder, The Vita Lounge

It sounded like a match made in heaven. Buy the PlayStation 3 version of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time or PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale and you’d get the Vita version – at no extra cost. “It’s the future” many declared, but I distinctly remember one forum member I encountered saying that it would prove to be a bad thing. How could it possibly be? You are getting two versions for the same price! As the years have gone by its use in indie titles has become a staple of practice and expectation, but I now personally feel that it could actually be a bad thing. Before you all say I’m mad, I’ll explain why.

The most obvious is pricing. Since the release of the PS4, Cross-Buy now means that you are getting as many as three versions for one price, but I feel that this price is inflated somewhat in some cases; you end up paying much more than you might if you bought the game elsewhere and you could essentially be paying a premium for the privilege of getting multiple versions. What might actually help is if there were two versions listed, one for the single game and an enhanced one for those that want other console variants. That way those of us that don’t use the extra versions – or even own the other consoles – don’t have to pay that price.

Another problem with Cross-Buy – and probably the biggest with regards to the Vita right now – is that some developers simply don’t have the means to develop multiple versions of the game simultaneously, and what is increasingly happening is that specific versions – typically Vita – are postponed, delayed or even cancelled. A game could release on the PS4, equipped with Cross-Buy, and people grab it either at release, on sale or even PS Plus. The Vita version is nowhere to be seen, yet that’s the version that many of us want. It’s been queued, meaning that these owners have guaranteed themselves the game at a reduced cost or even free. The thing is, it’s not free to develop games and essentially this money is being pumped into development of a game that will see little or even no return, and ultimately jeopardize future Vita versions of that studio’s games.

Another personal gripe is that it’s constantly mentioned that you are getting two or more versions, but these generally share a trophy list. If there were separate lists then it could entice repeated play on multiple platforms, but that said with Cross-Save people could use it as a way to enhance their trophy count.

Third-parties didn’t buy into Cross-Buy at all, which impacted the feature significantly resulting in something little more than a gimmick. Many of them have bought into Cross-Save, which works in tandem but have stopped short of giving you the additional version, which doesn’t really help matters, and whilst many of us would prioritise the Vita game instead of the PS4 edition, not everyone will. Which again impacts on Vita version sales…

When it was announced it was certainly a great concept, and those that do prefer to play big screen at home then to continue on the go really do get something great. It does however highlight that you need multiple PlayStation systems to get the benefit, and I fear that as time goes on it could risk future Vita titles, as we are already starting to see.

NO – S J Hollis, Editor/ Reviewer, Punk and Lizard

Grab your trumpets and activate your party poppers because Cross-Buy games are here and they are expanding our gaming libraries and giving us value for our very hard earned money. How splendid it is to have a choice between PS4 and Vita. Do I want to play Aqua Kitty from the comfort of my own recliner or do I want to take him to work? Is it Cross-Save? Then I’ll do both. How wonderful that with so many games we don’t have to pay for the pleasure. How likely are you to buy the same game twice? Not very, I’d say, but given a free second copy there’s every chance you’ll be smiling. Maybe you’re in the middle of a long JRPG on the Vita and don’t want to spend your lunch break playing anything else just yet, or perhaps you’re still trying to finish that last AAA epic on the PS4 but your bus journey feels barren and devoid of any joy. Cross-Buy gives us the opportunity to choose a system, and that’s pure unadulterated rainbows and balloons.

While the strength of the Vita has always been its indie and Japanese library, a closer link to the PS4 cannot be a bad thing. Sony resorted to pushing Remote Play as a reason to buy the Vita ‘add on’ but how many people would buy one specifically for that function? I’m really quite dubious. But marketing a function that allows you to play the same game on your handheld wherever you happen to be? That’s a bit more like it. While there’s not a chance in all the universe this can happen with the bigger games, Sony could be missing a trick if they don’t embrace the development of games more suited to this function.


Visual novels are a genre I would very much like to see go cross buy as a standard feature. These games are long and personally I don’t like being interrupted by other games. The Vita will always be my go-to console for VNs. I like to hold it to my nose like a book, maybe whizz through during a lunch break or while I’m only half-watching another poor episode of Sherlock, but sometimes – only now and again – one needs to do the washing up and wrap a birthday present. Yes you can set the text to Auto on your Vita but wouldn’t it be nice to read on a nice big TV while you’re eating your sausage, egg and chips? I played Hatoful Boyfriend this way and it changed the way I wanted to play visual novels.

I wonder how many games wouldn’t have made it to Vita if Cross-Buy hadn’t been an option. Developing specifically for a platform that will have a limited sales potential is a risky and expensive business or at least that’s what several Android developers have told us in response to Vita version requests. It makes sense, however, that if a developer is already working on a PS4 version that a Vita release would be a much less risky investment.

But is Cross-Buy harmful to the Vita? Is there a danger that developers will drop Vita versions completely in favour of the PS4? It’s possible, but I also think that every console has a natural point in time when it begins to run down. The Vita will go down that road when it’s good and ready and Cross-Buy isn’t going to interfere with that. Rather, I think Cross-Buy enhances Vita and PS4 ownership, linking them together like best buds in a playground. Friends 4 Eva? Maybe not, but Cross-Buy gives the Vita another reason to hang on in there.

What do you think? Do you think that Cross-Buy is a very important and useful feature or do you think that it could potentially cause problems for the Vita? Let us know what you think in the comments!

This interview first appeared in our February issue of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Stay tuned to our magazine for more exclusive and magazine first content soon!

  • Astrus

    Probably a fringe case here.
    I only own a Vita as far as current-generation consoles go so for me cross-buy is a godsend for PS+ game selection and something that doesn’t really impact me at all for any other console gaming purposes.

    • Buckybuckster

      I wouldn’t classify your situation as being “fringe”. I’m in the same boat as you are with my Vita being my only current gen system. Consequently, I haven’t given the cross-buy issue much thought.

      Look at it from afar, I can see how it can both good and bad effects for Vita owners. But in the long run, I think the good out weighs the bad. If we ever decide to pick up a PS4, we’ll already have a library of titles to download and play.

  • Thom Blackburn

    Some great points and counterpoints on both sides here, but I think I fall in the “it’s a good thing” camp because no one is forcing developers to create for a specific platform so if they choose multiple platforms they get buying potential from all 3 of PlayStation’s install bases without the risk of one version tanking.

    It also was more assuring to anyone buying digital titles before ps4 launched that you may get an upgraded version of your game for free so it shouldn’t stop you from buying the ps3 version now.

    I know development costs money, but if we can be honest with ourselves for a minute, in a crossbuy game situation vita is never going to be the lead platform, which means that it’d be the first version cut in most cases. Crossbuy is enough of an enticement for some players that they take a chance on an indie with middling reviews simply because they can have it playable on everything.

  • Personally I think its a good thing, I get way more vita games each month because of it and I even choose the vita version over the console version when I get it.

  • sand

    Good article. I think it’s good. Not just for current vita owners but hopefully ps4 owners will see they’ve inadvertently built up a decent vita library and they’ll invest in a vita.

  • moreover

    Well, it really depends on a game to game basis. There’s no denying that cross-buy is destroying many vita sales and makes some developers unwilling to work with it (especially when vita-ver. is not coming out simultaneously with the others) but at the same time some wouldn’t even risk working with vita without a back-up from the home console.
    So basically it simply comes down to this:
    Yes – if vita-version is launching god knows when
    No – if vita-version is a proper simultaneous release

  • Sarcasmology

    It’s likely hurting the developer more than it’s helping the consumer. In a market where I feel we undervalue a vast quantity of titles to begin with, the ‘added value’, or at least ‘perceived added value’ of cross-buy is not really something the industry needs to do at the detriment of staying healthy.

    Personally, I’ve never bought or been more inclined to buy a game because it had cross-buy/cross-save as a feature. In fact, with my trophy-whoring ways, they’ve lost secondary and tertiary sales from me by doing so.

  • I think both of you make exceptionally good arguments. For me it’s the following:

    Why it hurts Vita: It certainly hurts the sales on Vita as some games that are cross-buy would have been bought twice by some gamers, especially if cross-save is enabled or if the game arrives later on Vita and someone wants to replay it on the go for trophies or whatever other reason. I also don’t know how Sony measures these things, because if they come out for PS4 first and you buy it there, even if you end up spending more time on the game playing it on your Vita once it launches there it probably still accounts as a PS4 sale only in their metrics.

    Why it’s good for Vita: It certainly was an incentive for me to buy the Vita knowing that I already owned so many games on it thanks to cross-buy. This can only be a benefit though if Sony stresses on this incentive somewhere, but it doesn’t show much interest in doing so…

    In conclusion, I think cross-buy would help the Vita if Sony would exploit it from a marketing perspective. But at the current situation I’m not sure if it harms it or not.

  • I agree that cross-buy is creating an environment of expectations, and that it puts more stress on devs that might not have all the resources necessary. However given how badly some people looked at indie titles in the past, and how cross-buy helps improve the perceived value of a game, I would argue that overall it is worth it!

  • Lester Paredes

    All I know is that a friend and I went haf and half on Sly Thieves in time, and he kept the PS3 and I the Vita. Situations like that, are bad for the developer, as they lose out on sales. I haven’t done that since, because cross buy games are mostly digital now. But I did get New and Tasty on PS4 because it was cross buy, but only recently was able to get the version I wanted. I didn’t even have a PS4 at the time! I’m still waiting on Skullgirls.
    I think cross buy is a good thing, but you should somehow have the option to choose if you want both or just one version, and pay a price accordingly. And if you ever decide to get the other version, get it at a discounted rate. That way, you choose which platforms to get the game for.

  • Super important to me! I won’t even buy a game that is released on both the PS4 & Vita that is trying to charge you for them separately. On the flip side… I’ll almost always buy any game (when the price is right) that is Cross-buy, regardless of whether it was originally on my radar or not. In the all digital age, having the option to play your game on multiple systems is great.

  • vongruetz .

    It boils down to: Cross-buy is good for the consumer but bad for the developer. When it’s bad for the developer, they stop making games. Then it’s becomes bad for the consumer as well.

    They probably would have been better off selling the games individually at cheaper prices and sell them together in a bundle with a discount. For me, cross-buy didn’t make sense in 90% of the games that offered it.

  • Evandro

    Pretty much every Vita owner I know in real life only bought the system because they already owned games for it, due to cross buy.

    Games are cancelled or delayed on Vita because the costs of doing the port were too high, and the developer didn’t think they would see a return on that cost. It’s as simple as that. Making the games not cross-buy wouldn’t change that.

    Since this point mostly applies to indies, the problem with Vita is that it’s too old. The CPU and GPU were great 4 years ago but that space moves fast, it only has 512MB of memory and it’s generally a pain to port a game to it. That’s your problem with ports, not cross buy. Seeing the first build of your game running at 2fps full of glitches and having to get that up to something decent is hard. Look at Axiom Verge: it took them a year to get the port finished. Do you think not being cross buy would make them more profitable? Not at all, if they knew it would be this hard they wouldn’t have done in the first place. It’s going to lose them money.

    Cross buy is great for consumers and it’s great for developers too. They see more sales because of cross buy. If the developer was already committed to doing a Vita version, here’s what cross buy means to them:

    – sell each version individually for $15 and hope to make $30 from people who double dip;
    – sell cross-buy for $15 and hope that incentivizes more people to buy the game.

    The latter occurs far more often. Remember, the point of doing a Vita version in addition to a PS4 version is to reach consumers that would buy your game on Vita but not PS4. Cross Buy doesn’t change that, on the contrary, it only makes people more likely to buy your game.

    Also, there’s only one game I can remember that was more expensive as a result of cross buy (Rogue Legacy), but that had a PS+ discount on day 1 so it didn’t matter to me anyway. I’d refuse to pay a markup, it’s a bad idea that hurts overall sales and misses the point of cross buy.

    I also hate trophy lists that aren’t shared, they make no sense to me. I like trophies not to increase my overall level, but just as a nice picture of my progress in a game. Splitting that up would ruin it.

  • WillMerfi

    Let’s be realistic here. In most cases, especially now, it will either be cross buy or no Vita. So I’ll take the latter, even with its flaws, thank you very much.