Sony’s strategy for the Vita could work
I’m the first one to complain about how Sony is not supporting the Vita, but yesterday’s gamescom highly contributed to change my opinion on the subject. Yesterday I realized that Sony is ready to support its new baby aggressively.
I was going to try and blog about every possible game that has been announced or promoted during gamescom for the Vita and the PS3, but I had to give up: there’s just to many of them for me to even view all the trailers and sort the bad from the good. But the great news is, I’ve seen more good than bad.
If you “read between the lines”, The gamescom also revealed how Sony plans to support its gaming ecosystem in the months to come, and this is what I want to discuss here. Call it a wrap-up of Sony’s gamescom, call it an uneducated opinion, call it whatever you want… the thing is, I think there are a few “global points” that have shown that Sony is pushing full steam on the Vita, and to some extent, on the PS3.
Exclusive AAA titles, but also indIE games
The gamescom is revealing a bunch of new AAA titles: Tearaway, Killzone Mercenary, Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation, etc, etc… What’s interesting here is that these are exclusive to the Vita. I’ll pass on the gimmicks of “full use of the vita’s controls”, as I think few games actually really “need” to use the vita’s touch screen. Tearaway sounds like a good example of really taking advantage of that technology (in particular the rear touch pad), but for other, more “action” oriented games, it sounds more like an excuse. But that doesn’t really matter.
The point is, the vita is finally backed up by a decent amount of big studios. It does not stop here, as the Vita is also seeing a growing number of interesting titles, close to what indie studios would come up with: Gravity Rush and Sound Shapes come to mind… Established franchises as well as original concepts are coming to the Vita, and this is good.
Meaningful Firmware updates?
I am impressed by the upcoming 1.80 update. I think it has a lot of cool features. The main one will of course be PS1 support, which might get some of us to definitely get rid of their PSP in favor of a new Vita… hey, we can dream, maybe Sony’s upcoming updates will all be rich in features like firmware 1.80. Am I stretching it too far, or does it sound like a reasonable expectation?
Full integration with the PS3
I think the symbiosis between the Vita and the PS3 is the huge point of the gamescom. One of my major concerns with the PSP was that it completely lacked any form of integration with the PS3. Sony was basically failing at creating an ecosystem with its own devices. I was genuinely concerned that the Vita would follow the same path, but clearly Sony have plans here:
The first thing that comes to mind is Cross Buy, a new purchase program that Sony will start soon. The concept is simple: for some selected titles, if you buy the PS Vita version, you get the PS3 version for free, and vice versa. This was already the case for a few games, but this is now coming to major upcoming titles such as Playstation All stars.
In line with this, the upcoming firmware 1.80 for the PS Vita promises that you’ll be able to use the PS Vita as a controller for the games that support it. A way to beat Microsoft’s Surface and Nintendo’s Wii U controller? Sony gives you the controller of next generation’s consoles, except it’s now. If enough games support this, this could be pretty big.
Additionally, support of Playstation+ for Vita users has been announced too, and the increase of Cloud storage for your savegames is another hint: Sony is trying to get you to enjoy a full “100% Sony” experience. It is obvious that they are pushing for an increase of their playstation+ users (a subscribed user is always the best customer a company can have. See amazon pushing for their Prime subscriptions, Hulu pushing for Hulu plus, etc…), but they are also killing two birds with one stone by giving Playstation+ subscribers a new reason to buy a Vita.
Cross play compatibility might also become big. I mentioned the Cross Buy feature, but games such as Assassin’s Creed 3 (and the Vita counterpart Liberation) promise some “interaction” (I am still confused as to what that exactly means) between 2 games, one on the Vita, the other one on the PS3.
Overall, Sony is giving PS3 owners more and more reasons to buy a Vita, something that I think they had failed to do with the PSP.
With gamescom, it seems to me that Sony is trying very hard to make the Vita appealing to a large audience. Casual gamers, Hardcore gamers, and loyal customers who also own a PS3 and/or a playstation plus account. This is awkward as I wrote another article recently (not published yet) about how Sony lost the war with portable gaming against smartphones and tablets…and today I am not entirely convinced of that anymore.
Do you guys think the Vita has a bright future?