After Nintendo Direct’s wonderfully impressive showing last night, Sony better be preparing themselves for their upcoming Vita Gamer Heaven. Either that, or they’ll be preparing for a long, arduous journey for the future of the Vita.
When Sony first presented their Playstation Vita Game Heaven, reactions were mixed. The event itself was tasteful enough, showcasing various new projects and collaborations with renowned members of the industry; in the short presentation, Dokuro, Phantasy Star Online 2, Super Robot Wars, Soul Sacrifice and more were all on display, with many other smaller announcements detailed. However, many gamers felt like the new system was already in need of those games, not just teasers of teasers,and that it didn’t help the current situation of the Vita at all anyway.
Obviously, many are still feeling this way after Sony’s lackluster E3 performance, specifically in regards to the Vita’s disheartening amount of support. While the show floor itself was bustling with Vita game videos and demos, Sony didn’t seem to care all too much about that during their highlighted presser, instead opting to “wow” it’s hardcore fans with tidbits of information about Vita games we already knew about, and way more time spent on the PS3′s Wonderbook than approximately one hundred percent of Playstation fans wanted to see.
And then, we were promised another Vita Game Heaven this June. Expectations, obviously, were low, though it was nice to see Sony dedicating some alone time to the fledgling system. It was said that this would be a full-on event, not just a video montage with mediocre bits of information thrown about: it’ll include developers working on Vita games to get the most profound and interesting take on new titles and how they’re developed for the Vita, something that surely interests many fans. Okay, it wouldn’t be anything as grandiose as an E3 press conference should be, but who cares? It’d be nice to gain some new information and a new perspective on Vita development.Yesterday, though, Nintendo came along and changed that notion. Holding their second Nintendo Direct meeting in the same month as E3, the company then proceeded to blow every viewer’s goddamned mind with so much news and gameplay footage that it put every E3 conference this month to shame, quality-wise, almost unarguably. From tons of release dates and pricing to brand-new, gorgeous footage of games like Bravely Default to game reveals to Super Smash Bros. news to a brand-new hardware revision of the 3DS, it was enough to lift the hearts of those who were disappointed by Nintendo’s E3 presence. That was, oh, everyone, right? Sure, it was highly Japanese-centric, but who cares? It was a phenomenal thing to behold.
How does this affect our beloved Playstation brand? That should be obvious. Sony really needs to focus on what’s best for their portable powerhouse. If their upcoming Game Heaven, promised to come by next weeks’ end, follows in the footsteps of the first, it would be embarrassing and certifiably awful in the wake of Nintendo’s showing last night. I’m not here to ponder why Nintendo gave its fans such a breath of fresh air, whether it was to intimidate Sony or to please its fans and shareholders or whatever else. I’m here to implore upon Sony to appease its patient fanbase and put on a show that’s as pleasing to the viewer as it will be to the sake of it’s newest, nearly struggling handheld.
Brief teasers of games still very early in development won’t cut it this time. Mere screenshots of logos for games, likely not even in development yet, definitely aren’t going to win any new customers over. It’s imperative that Sony comes in, all guns blazing, with a vast array of news and gameplay footage for the games we already know about and are not part of some far-off reality, but that of a game readying itself for launch soon. We’ve been told that over 60 new games will be coming to the Vita this year; how many can you name, right now, off the top of your head? How many can you claim to have seen footage of? Most would be hard-pressed to name more than 20, and a lot of those are likely multi-platform titles.
Sony doesn’t want a repeat of the PSP this time around. And, disappointingly, the Vita is doing even worse sales-wise than the PSP did, worldwide. What they don’t get is that brief shots of games are never enough to sway a consumer to buy a system (and often times, as in the case of The Last Guardian, proves to be a terrible consumer purchase). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve become hyped for a game, only to gradually lose interest as time passes due to it being announced too early, delays, etc. Capitalizing on that initial excitement is one of the most beneficial things a gaming company can do.
Of course, consumer interest is directly related to how well a system will sell, and hype that’s far from fruition isn’t worth as much as confirmed games that a potential buyer can go out and pick up soon. It’s a win-win situation; Sony sells more units and builds reliable excitement behind future games, and the consumer be comforted in knowing their purchase wasn’t a waste, as well as access to a catalog of games that are perfectly good, just not quite system sellers. I mean, who bought a Vita for a WipeOut or a Hot Shots or an Uncharted? Many, I’m sure, but far more would stave off these franchises for more ripe and interesting fruit. I’d argue that Gravity Rush is the first of these elusive “system sellers,” though its mass appeal is yet to be seen.Those that did buy a Vita at launch or soon after found themselves with a wealth of content that was thrilling to play, to say the least. Very few, though, can claim that any one of those games was worth buying the system for, and plenty more are regretting their purchase as time slowly rolls on with naught but promises and dull exclamations to “wait” for the games to start coming in. It’s an unfair argument, sure; I’d rather buy a system for a handful of good games than one great one, but people tend to think opposite that.
Now, the 3DS certainly experienced a severe drought that, some would argue, is still going on to this day; hell, their hardware was selling just as poorly as the Vita’s, more or less, in its first few months on the market. Yesterday’s showing, though, proved that the future is looking bright for Nintendo’s dimension-hopping portable, and though the Vita may have an incredible lineup coming, uh, sometime, we really don’t know all that much about it’s future.
Does Sony need to drop the price of their portable to help give them the break they need, like Nintendo was effectively forced to do? I don’t think so. Does it need to revise the Vita’s hardware in order to garner more sales? Not at all. In my opinion, that’s something Nintendo revealed even though there really isn’t a need for a revision. While a bigger pair of screens is nicer, I suppose, who’s going to pay $200 for that and a negnegligible amount of additional battery life? The true revision needed involved adding the second analog stick Nintendo originally Frankensteined onto the 3DS; without that built in, I’m hard pressed to say it’s worth it.
I think gamers are merely sick of the promises and lack of attention that Sony has given their impressive new portable, and need some form of commitment from them. If people who already own your system are thirsting for more content and information, how can you expect to sway onlookers into getting in on the action? We need more information on the stellar games already in development for the Vita. We need revelations on launch dates for many of the games supposedly “coming soon.” We need to know that your entire SCEA lineup of games does not incude JUST PS3 ports/cross compatible titles(Which are nearly the same thing during development, right?). We need to know that you care, Sony. Is that too much to ask?
We’ll know soon enough what Sony’s been preparing in disturbing silence for the Vita in the coming days. Let’s all just hope they’ve been paying attention to the keys they have to success right in front of them: their competition and their fans. Without triumphing over one and impressing the other, the road ahead is long and weary.
- Vita Game Heaven Coming June 28th