The PlayStation Vita Is Set to Succeed
It may not come as much of a surprise coming from one of IGN's PlayStation editors, but my excitement for the PlayStation Vita is palpable. I've played Sony's upcoming handheld on numerous occasions since it was revealed and have had hands-on time with a plethora of games. And while I acknowledge that Sony has stumbled quite a few times during the PSP and PS3's lifecycle, things appear to be different this time around. Sony's emphasis seems to be on all the right things, and Vita is primed to do a lot better than people are expecting it to.
Sony on the PlayStation Vita's Origin
In short, Vita will be the real deal when it's finally released in the west on February 22, 2012. It has an impressive roster of games in development, it's a technological powerhouse with connectivity options that are becoming increasingly important in the games space, and as a dedicated gaming device, everything it's capable of doing combines to make it look much better than the offerings from its primary competitors.
For starters, PlayStation Vita has games. Lots and lots of them are in development. Games sell devices like the Vita, and I've played enough of Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Resistance: Burning Skies, Sound Shapes, Gravity Rush, Super Stardust Delta, Escape Plan, Ruin and so on to tell you that you won't have to concern yourself with not having a deluge of quality and interesting games to play. They'll be there, and in impressive numbers. Without games, the PlayStation Vita would be an expensive paperweight with a pretty OLED screen.
For better or for worse, Vita will be pitted against the Nintendo 3DS. But the comparison doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and even if you were to pit them against each other, Vita is still destined to sell better. That's because in addition to games (which Nintendo 3DS is still sorely lacking), it's also a much more powerful machine capable of doing a whole lot more than 3DS.
It will have full access to an actual online service in the PlayStation Network, it will utilize a series of popular third-party applications, and it will come in an optional model that lets you go online anywhere you get cell phone service. It doesn't depend on an antiquated online interface. It has the potential to be a ubiquitously connected device, one that is being set-up to speak directly with your PlayStation 3 over the PlayStation Network. Vita is therefore not only echelons ahead of 3DS in terms of games, but it's light years ahead of Nintendo's handheld in terms of tech. Comparing the two isn't even really fair, and as I've discussed before, and it's a fallacy to continue to do so.
Nintendo isn't the primary competition for Sony this time around. The major complaint against something like Vita is that its space is being encroached upon by the phone and tablet market, and hence the real competition for Vita will come from Apple and Android devices. There's certainly something to be said about that. People are playing games on iOS in insane amounts. Hell, 30 million people play Angry Birds everyday. That poses a real problem for Sony.
Take your Drake on a plane.But the issue for touch devices is that most traditional games simply can't be played on them. You can't play a first-person shooter, a side-scrolling action game, a platformer or many other genres with a touch screen... at least, not as they were intended. You need a control pad and analog sticks, you need triggers and face buttons. Even Nintendo, with its buttons and triggers and touch pad admitted that leaving off a second analog stick from its handheld was a huge mistake. Now, you have to buy it separately. Vita comes with one right off the bat because it's probably the most glaringly obvious thing a handheld needs to compete these days.
When you combine everything the PlayStation Vita can do, it could easily make you wonder why it's been short-changed by many people in the gaming community. The Nintendo 3DS is certainly not going to take the Vita out with N64 ports and tired, worn series. The iPhone and Android phones are in everyone's pockets, but who's going to play a competent first-person shooter or action-heavy games like Arkham City on them any time soon? The Vita seems to be the best of both worlds – a technologically-advanced and connected handheld that's tailor-made for gamers.
Should Sony feel threatened by its competition? Sure. But Nintendo is the least of Sony's concerns these days. The boys in Cupertino probably have tricks up their sleeves that could make Vita look much less appealing, however. But until we see what that is, I implore you not to sleep on the PlayStation Vita's potential. The dedicated gaming handheld will die sometime in the future. But, as much as Nintendo is trying to prove otherwise, the future isn't here yet.
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