Sony’s Big Business Idea: Proprietary PS Vita Memory Cards. Why We Hate Them, and They Love Them.


Technology is cool

83 Responses

  1. RadPhil says:

    “To be able to swap cards, you have to back up your card, format both it and restore your PS Vita system and then insert the new one. ”

    That’s not true. You can just turn off the vita, pop in the new card, and turn it back on.

    • RadPhil says:

      To clarify, i have 3 cards, and I constantly switch through them since i have different games on each ones.

    • The Jay Doctor says:

      Yes, sorry that is incorrect. I meant to swap accounts on cards. I was just swapping my cards todat in fact 🙂

      • Lucas says:

        Still these cards are a real pain in the ***, wether you have to get a new account for swap or not.

      • RadPhil says:

        Ok. Just making sure, cause yea THAT statement is true for switching accounts on cards. 🙂

        I do agree with lucas it’s still a pain in the butt for this card thing, cause they could have done much better on that aspect.

      • wololo says:

        I have updated the article to correct that. Jay Doc, PM me if you think it still needs to be corrected, thanks 🙂

  2. Narles says:

    “To be able to swap cards, you have to back up your card, format both it and restore your PS Vita system and then insert the new one.”
    Well that just isn’t true at all. I have 3 memory cards with different games on each of them (connected to the same PSN Account though) and all I have to do is turn off my Vita, swap the cards, then turn it back on. Granted, it’s still not as easy as swapping Memory Sticks on the PSP was but it is a far cry from the backup/restore rigmarole that you describe in this article.

  3. :v says:

    “When you buy say, a 16GB card, you only have actually 14GB to use. The rest is used by the system for various things (funny how the system worked fine without the card). And even worse, when you get a 64GB card, five freaking gigabytes are not available for your use. This is annoying. Really annoying. I’ll stay on the topic of the 64GB card for a little while longer.”
    This happens on EVERYTHING, not just PSVita, it’s not because ‘the rest is used by the system for various things’, it’s because a common Gigabyte-Gibibyte misconception and a confusion caused by that misconception. When you buy a 16GB microSD you’ll also have only 14GB to use, be it Android, Windows or any other OS, because Operative Systems usually show GiB has GB.

    • :v says:

      “Something that goes hand in hand with the swapping catastrophe is the limit of one PSN account per card. To be able to have more, it’s the same process as swapping cards. Why only one account? On the PS3 and PS4 you can have virtually as many as possible.”
      I guess this is ’cause history made portable consoles like that, meant to be used by just one person (Gameboy and other old nintendo portable games used to have saveslot for only 1 save, same with some PSP games) I think it’s sad that they kept this thinking… I mean, nowadays 3DS and Vita aren’t considerably cheap, so it would be amazing being able to use multiple accounts to share my Vita with, for example, my brother or anyone else I want to share it with.

      About Sony being the only one making Vita memory cards, they should license other manufacturers to allow them to make memory cards, like SanDisk or Kingston. I mean, SanDisk was the First one to show and sell a 128GB microSD card, a few months ago. If they were somehow licensed to produce and sell memory cards for Vita we’ll surely have 128GB memory cards for our Vitas, ans probably at a considerably cheap price compared to Sony’s 64GB

      • Setzer Gabianni says:

        The swap between diferents PSN accounts it’s not only for share the console with other people, it’s also for buying games that doesn’t sell in your region, for example the megaman complete saga it’s only in japan, if you look in th us or eu network there only a few but not everyone, or the final fantasy saga: in the us network there isn’t the crisis core or the aniversary edition of ff1 and 2 while in eu network you can buy it (don’t remember if both, but at least have more ff’s that the us network) so this is not only a matter of lending your vita, it’s a matter of playing the games that you want to play but for reasons of stupidity or only to *** off customers sony does’t sell it in your region when it doesn’t take to much time or effort.

        • :v says:

          “it’s a matter of playing the games that you want to play but for reasons of stupidity or only to *** off customers SONY does’t sell it in your region when it doesn’t take to much time or effort.”
          Pretty sure they would be more than happy to selling it to you (of course, because they would win more money) , but this is mostly a problem with the developer, that can’t (or don’t want to) sell the game in other regions, it can be due to licensing problems (If, for example, a game has a song with a comercial license, and the developer only paid to use the license in Asian countries.) or because they’re just stupid…

      • sathriel says:

        The fact VITA memory cards are proprietary is not the whole issue. The issue is that those cards are used only for VITA. There are not so many VITAs around hence not many cards are sold hence their cost must be higher to make production cost effective. Other memory cards can get really cheap because they are being made in great numbers hence the production is way cheaper. And you can switch your card between your camera, telephone, TV or what have you. In their fight against piracy Sony shoot themselves in foot and hurt their consumers.

    • zzz says:

      +1. It’s not about system using some portion of the memory, it’s just marketing bs.
      explanation as to why 16GB microSD only have 14GB is because companies sees
      1GB = 1,000MB = 1,000,000KB = 1,000,000,000Byte
      while the computer sees
      1GB = 1,024MB = 1,048,576KB = 1,073,741,824Byte
      so for each GB there are 73,741,824Byte(=70.3MB) missing

      Therefore, if it’s advertized as 16GB, it’s actual size is only about 15.9GB.

      I’m not defending sony or any other companies on this matter; I’m just saying OS doesn’t use a portion of the card. (even if they do it’s not that huge amount)

  4. kalte says:

    meehh each time I think about Vita memory cards I begin to think more and more to just sell it. Not even having PS Plus is enough to keep it, most games sucks badly 🙁

  5. hahahah says:

    What’s ridiculous is how you guys actually bought more then one card. Honestly spend your money on better things.

    • The GZA says:

      Why don’t you mind you’re business, what anyone spends their money on is none of your concern. Who are you to judge, you probably spend all your money on food and Anime, or your just poor and jealous.

    • eighthdayregret says:

      What that other guy said.
      What business is it of yours what I (or anyone else) spends our money on, and who are you to talk sh*t, anyway?

    • Radphil says:

      Just to clarify this @hahahah, I bought the cards from various sales at least 50% off the normal standard price. So it’s not ridiculous that for the price of a normal single 32gb, i have 2 32gbs and 1 16 gb.

  6. \ says:

    I accidentally swallowed my Vita Memory Card.

  7. Fanagame says:

    Uh, yeah, the fact that a 16GB card is only 14 usable GB and same story with the 64GB is common to any storage you buy on a computer.

    Basically, a kilobyte is 1024 bytes. A megabyte is 1024 kilobytes. A gigabyte is 1024 megabytes.
    But the HDD sellers have the habit of showing us disk capacity in terms of 1 kb = 1000 bytes, etc. (Base 10). (It’s both easier to calculate, but mostly, it makes up for bigger, nicer number)

    So, what’s advertised as 64GB, is merely 64 000 000 000 bytes.
    And, to a computer, this is 64 000 000 000 / 1024 / 1024 / 1024 = 59.6 GB

    • UE says:

      There were reasons for this with platter hard drives, with SD based chips there is no reason they cannot EASILY manufacture it to the required size.
      Look at SSD drives, half are their advertised size, the other half follow the same rules.

      • The GZA says:

        That’s the way tech math works, it’s not the medium but the file system, you have to know how to convert bytes, bits, and so on. They can’t just make up sizes for these things, just like everything else there is a standard that must be followed. Don’t feel bad you’re ignorant, just do some research instead of assuming stuff.

        • Burrito Bob says:

          You’re not exactly well-informed yourself. Filesystems don’t take up that much space. It’s possible and maybe probable that Sony is using a proprietary filesystem, but a 5 GB index+possible log for 64GB is really inefficient. I can’t think of any public filesystem with comparable losses, can you?

        • Burrito Bob says:

          UE and Fanagame are right. They only reason to use the base 10 metric is to make it look better on the packaging.

        • xPreatorianx says:

          No – you are the one who is ignorant. It has nothing to do with the filesystem but the manufacturers and the fact that they use Gigabyte where as filesystems, operating systems, and EVERYONE who says Gigabyte actually mean Gibibyte.One is base 10 meaning 1,000 MB instead of 1,024.(Gigabyte)

          Basically it’s all down to the classification/system of measurement they use. Manufacturers use one classification/system of measurement where as the rest of the world uses the slightly different one. Both are 100% correct and can be used for the conversion. The difference is they are the ones who are benefiting from it as they are making money on selling us the classification that gives us less in return.

          Next time instead of insulting someone why don’t you do some damn research yourself!!!

          • xPreatorianx says:

            BTW this post was towards TheGZA. He keeps calling people idiots, ignorant, etc when he has no damn clue himself!

          • Zephyr8965 says:

            Do you guys not realize that he said 14GB is useable out of 16GB? The translation from 1billion to 2^30 leaves you at 15.9GB out of 16GB. That’s a larger gap than a simple translation issue would create. So, either you’re wrong, or the article author is wrong about how much space is actually available.

      • Fractalhedron says:

        You’re right, some solid state drives label their actual base-2 capacity, but these aren’t really the norm.

        What keeps a 32GB memory card (scale numbers for larger or smaller cards) down to 32,000,000,000 bytes (or even 31.5 billion) is error correction. Electronic circuits, especially as dense as they have to be for data storage, are not perfectly reliable, thanks to everything from manufacturing processes to material purity to cosmic rays – all of which matter when your data’s being stored in cells a dozen atoms across. Similar problems come up with mechanical drives as well, since a (recoverable) head error can come up because you typed too loud (seriously).

        Error correction gives the card a way to tell whether the data it’s reading is what it wrote, and if it isn’t it can re-read or rebuild it, and if that doesn’t work at least blacklist the affected section (128 KB to 16 MB depending on process) of the card so a bad part can’t be a problem anymore. More advanced error correction can take more or less of the card, but more robust usually takes more.

        And none of this even starts into controller and file system read/write speeds and instruction rates.

        So yes, it’s pretty lame that Sony sells 32 GB of PS Vita card for $75 and 32GB of MicroSD for $20, but it’s sort of a miracle that Sony’s MicroSD, which is consistently near the top for both performance and reliability (and objectively pretty damn good, controlling for card readers), is as cheap as it is.

        • The Doctor says:

          Ok I can’t stop my self from explaining to you wonderful people about capacity vs usability.
          1. Every, I mean every media hdd,ssd,sd,mirco sd, cd-rom, DVD, blue ray discs. I a partition table for example 320 gb capacity hard drive whether ssd or hdd will only be 298 gb usable,why you ask?
          2. Your files and data have to have a way to know where they sit on said media, so let’s do some basic math and I bet we could figure out what the usable space a 8gb capacity memory can hold.
          3. Please do comment see if you know the answer there is only 10 correct answers as the file system you choose changes the answer. Hint 320 gb capacity hdd is formatted to ntfs default allocation table which controls the the max file size.
          4. Don’t believe me research Google is your friend.

  8. reaper527 says:

    are these cards really “one of the best things to happen to sony”? i know i personally haven’t gotten a vita yet solely because of the overpriced proprietary memory cards, and i find it hard to believe i’m the only person who is avoiding the system because of this.

    while sony is gouging their loyal customers who bought the system, they very well could be driving many potential customers away. vita sales pretty much everywhere except japan have been abysmal, and this very well could be a part of the reason for that.

    • mixedfish says:

      When the system is $199 with a 8gb card, a game and still only $20 more expensive than the 3DS without any SD card, it’s pretty clear the price isn’t the problem.

  9. Charles Fasano says:

    When I got my current Vita, I got a bundle with a 32GB Vita Card with the 3G Vita and Persona 4 Golden for $250.

    They want to increase Vita Sales? Give us better games and cheaper memory cards. I just bought the Sly Collection for Vita and was very annoyed that Sly 3 has to be downloaded from PSN and requires 2.9GB of Free Space.

    Also the CMA doesn’t always work right when transferring games. I still can’t backup Borderlands 2 to my computer as I get an error every time.

  10. Yifan Lu says:

    “The PS Vita system will only accept cards that have the special encryption on them.” [Citation Needed]

    • wololo says:

      The fact that the Vita refuses to use the inserted card if it is not associated to the same account as the console is a pretty strong hint… ?

      • Yifan Lu says:

        The full quote with context:
        “For modders, or more like the people who could have made a cheap alternative to save our pockets, can’t do their job. The PS Vita system will only accept cards that have the special encryption on them. Again, a no go.”
        This implies that people have not cloned the memory card because of special encryption. I don’t deny that such encryption exists, but I was just wondering how that can be stated without such evidence.

        Also, the Vita rejecting cards associated with another account has nothing to do with encryption. It’s just a a file; namely ux0:id.dat

        • josh_axey says:

          It would be more accurate to say that they have “security features” associated with them, or some such. One day I’d like to sit and have a proper yarn with you, Yifan. 🙂

  11. monte carlo says:

    Excellent article which brings up some very good points that I was unaware of such as swapping limitations. I buy all my games on cartridge so I did not know these issues existed. That said, what a messed up thing for a company to do to it’s customers. The Vita has been struggling and if they claim they don’t know why then here is a prime example. Good job!

  12. ivo says:

    #32 32GB equals 1TB
    dear sony please make me a vitatv that fits 32 of those 32gb cards

    • The GZA says:

      29 of them would be empty because of the lack of games.

      • Burrito Bob says:

        Or not.

      • lolwut says:

        OR not, it’s struggling for more space, my 32 gb is full and i have been deleting games for quite sometime , i’m planning buy 64gb one along with a new vita for my younger sibling.
        TBH i would buy 128gb or 256gb version if it’s exist, no matter the price.

  13. The GZA says:

    $100 for 64gb isn’t bad, I paid $100 for 4gb when the PSP first came out.

    • Burrito Bob says:

      That was almost a decade ago. Welcome to 2014. You can get a 64GB Micro SD card for anywhere from $20 to $40. You’re comparing apples to oranges, and the oranges are old and rotten. You have to compare to similar products in a similar time frame, and the correct comparison says that $100 is a horrible deal. Vita cards are over double the price of similar products.

      • lel says:

        “You can get a 64GB Micro SD card for anywhere from $20 to $40”
        It has to be the worst microSD card in the world, probably not even class 4.
        If we consider quality over price, 100USD for 64GB is the common/perfect match (unless you buy a microSD from any *** manufacturer like “china-something” or “samsung”

        • Burrito Bob says:

          Holy ***, that’s expensive. Anyway, I chose high-capacity, low-speed cards because the article says that the proprietary cards read data slowly.

          • :v says:

            Dude, “because the article says that the proprietary cards read data slowly” has to be the worst argument ever (rean Yifan Lu’s comment).
            low-speed cards can lead to usage problems of your device (depending on the device, for example, if it’s an Android Phone/Tablet, and you have a game on the microSD card, load times will be way bigger on a class 4 comparing it to a class 10 or UHS1)

          • Burrito Bob says:

            @:v I didn’t see that.

            “low-speed cards can lead to usage problems of your device (depending on the device, for example, if it’s an Android Phone/Tablet, and you have a game on the microSD card, load times will be way bigger on a class 4 comparing it to a class 10 or UHS1)”
            Yes, and…?
            Nobody’s arguing against slower memory cards being slower.

        • SCTinker says:

          I bought a 64GB SanDisk Extreme Plus (80ms read) for $75 in February. I bought the same size Samsung card with (90ms read) for $60 in June) I’d put good money on the SanDisk being at least 2x faster than the Vita Card, but since there’s no way to actually speed test Vita Memory cards, we’ll never know. Why Sony didn’t go with microSDXC and use the encryption capability built into the standard is just STUPID. Microsoft did just that when you inserted a microSD into a Windows Phone 7. The card got paired with the device and that was all she wrote. I wouldn’t be surprised if Vita memory cards were really just microSD cards on the inside with an extra security chip piggy backed inside the package. Oh, does anyone have a Mini-Disc player I can borrow?

  14. EJ says:

    Holidays was the best time to get memory cards for Vita for sure. I will always wait for that time to buy one and not completely feed money to Sony and their overpriced ***.

  15. drd7of14 says:

    Have to disagree on Transfer speeds. In my experience, wired backup is pretty fast, and I use 32GB and 16GB cards. I prefer all my games digital, and compared to both loading times, and “bugs”, I find no differences. Some tests were done early on to see the difference in loading times, but that would make sense. It’s a larger card. I’m pretty sure the physical transfer speeds are near-identical. Curious to see an update on these tests with actual read/write speeds being tested, and actual game loadtimes as well. I’d prefer a fresh copy of both, because of RAM boosting loading times. That darn RAM!

  16. Yifan Lu says:

    Using backup time as indication of memory card speed is a hilariously stupid idea. First you have the CPU trying to compress and encrypt the data. Then you have the USB 2.0 limits. Finally you have CMA’s own limitations.

  17. eighthdayregret says:

    Everyone knows why you lose 5 GB when you format the 64 GB card, right? Because it’s common knowledge that the storage capacity listed on ANY TYPE of storage media is flawed.
    To a manufacturer, 64 GB = 64,000,000,000 bytes
    To an operating system, 64 GB = 68,719,476,736 bytes
    So when you format the media, the actual capacity of the card is revealed. In this case, size on the package for the 64 GB card should actually say that it’s a 59.6 GB card.
    You don’t LOSE the capacity, it was never there to begin with.

    This is NOT Sony’s fault, so start educating yourself so you can stop looking stupid on the internet.

  18. Cepera says:

    I think trnasfer speed is limiting by AES encryption/decryption speed. Because vita came hot while transfering

  19. fate6 says:

    1) SanDisk is not a memory card type, Its a company that makes varies storage media like SD cards

    2)The memory sticks (like the ones the PSP uses) where made way before the PSP even existed and no it is not Sony’s first attempt.

    3)”First, scam us with your outrageous prices, then take a good portion of the space away from us”
    First off go look up what scam means then go look up why that space is lost, But yes it does suck

    4) Only paranoia feeding thing here is you, Watch out! the PS light is flashing again!

    5) The PSP was “cracked” because SCE did not have any security on 1.00

    • Yifan Lu says:

      Yeah I don’t know why wololo allows all these sensationalist articles that border on factually incorrect and exploits the ignorance of the common audience rather than try to educate them.

      • lolwut says:

        not surprised, it’s Jay afterall

      • :v says:

        On his last blog posts, The Jay Doctor makes me wonder if wololo read the blogposts before publishing them. I mean, for example, this one has no reason to exist, only to make Sony look worse, and doing that nowadays is a really bad idea.

      • Jd8531 says:

        To be fair, not all of us are writing sensationalist articles or wanting to this site to be “apart of Gawker” as you’ve said before in comments on other articles. Wololo doesn’t necessarily allow articles like these.

        But I agree, you’re completely right that articles like these aren’t necessary. Not being factual, not researching and having a speculative basis is unprofessional looking.

  20. Mr.Eich says:

    Maybe I’m a bit willful here, but, what if, someone makes a wired adapter for the card?

    slap a conventional SDHC card in a slot

    then bam-

    cuz the Vita gives not a damn when the card slot is opened…

  21. lolwut says:

    man, there’s no point going for lower end of memory card 😉
    i buy 32gb and vita at same time.

  22. lolwut says:

    yeah, go buy those 240p 3ds, it’s your choice afterall

  23. lolwut says:


  24. lolwut says:

    i have no any problem with the price.. and i’m not a rich guy.
    if i rant it would be 3DS stuff, why would it need Circle Pad Pro, 240p, ultra low performance hardware AND THE *** PRICE IS NOT THAT DIFFERENT FROM VITA, BUT NOT EVEN HALF OF VITA’S POWER.

  25. gamr13 says:

    Don’t mean to cause a rant but really, modern console companies (Nintendo, I’m looking at you in particular) are becoming money wh**es, I love my Vita and I have an 8GB and a 4GB memory card to use for gaming and both have filled really fast, my 4GB is for PS1 games and the 8GB for PS Vita, PSP and PSM titles. $ony, Micro$oft, Nintendo’$ failed consoles…And pricey game$…

  26. NNNRT says:

    Well at least that’s better than on iDevices. 😛

  27. Ashton says:

    For me the case is simple, if system ain’t broken i ain’t buying it. exactly because of reasons like this ***. At some point everything gets broken, and when it does there’s usually a nice game library for it. I refuse to support such tactics with my money. It’s also quite ironic that i’d prolly use psn store or xbox live, pay for games, dlc etc. however i don’t. Because that means my console will be banned, lose warranty etc. Well it’s their money loss. They’re sc*** themselves using those outdated pre internet anti piracy tactics.

  28. jose marin says:

    Seriously, the vita is the most expensive playstation of sony. If you compare between vita and maybe the ps3 in price is the same. Bat obviously the ps3 is better. You have the gameshare and play with the friends and the games are more large than the psvita. Well are many reasons. Psvita is too spensive and no practical. i thought that will be diferent bat is only a business machine.

  29. h8GWB says:

    Not really trying to start a flamewar, but I’d like to update these rants with my own recent observations.
    When I attended AnimeNext on the June 6-8 weekend, I’d estimate I saw around an honest one-sixth to one-quarter of the attendees (out of a TOTAL of 10k+ attendees) with their 3DS’s out at some time, while I VERY LITERALLY caught a glimpse of A SINGLE PSP (NOT even a Vita).
    And it was sitting on a desk.
    In Lost and Found, I believe.
    The case was ESPECIALLY evident on Saturday.
    …GOD, I hate Saturdays…

    So while the 3DS (XL size, mind you) may only be $30 less than a Vita, with a lower-rez screen, a single analog stick, maybe half the processing power, and with even Nintendo’s wanton use of dickery…
    …(REGION LOCKING….SRSLY? When EVEN Microsoft is doing away with it? Despite nearly all your previous handhelds, from the GB, GBP, GBC, GBA, GBA SP, GBA M, DS, to DSL, were all region free? /rant)…
    …it shows that small disparities in the level dickery you integrate into your products results in a HUGE disproportion in consumer adaption.

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