Sony has always promoted its handhelds stating that they offer a console-like experience that you can’t find anywhere else. In fact, if we really think about it this is kind of true and maybe it’s one of the main reasons why the original PlayStation Portable went on to become the best-selling non-Nintendo portable system. The PlayStation Vita has the potential to be that console once again, but considering that there isn’t any other system as powerful as Sony’s latest handheld, can the Vita succeed in a modern world dominated smartphones? Will the 3DS continue to sell millions of units and become more and more popular? But more importantly, do users really want console-like experiences on their handheld systems?
Considering that it’s too early to analyze the market in order to answer the first two questions, I’ll go ahead and focus on the latter. On a personal note, the reason why I got a PSP was because I already had a DS and Nintendo’s system wasn’t as appealing to me. It was hard to get cheap DS games even if they were released months or even years ago, the original DS and DS Lite didn’t have digital games and most titles felt watered-down versions of console games. On the other hand, the PSP offered something both interesting and unique. Even when Sony’s portable had lots of problems (including the fact that it used the woefully inadequate universal media discs, the battery died after a few hours of use, updating the firmware was extremely painful and its overall design wasn’t that great,) when I bought that system, there simply wasn’t anything quite like it and you could do things with the PSP you couldn’t do with a Nintendo DS or an iPhone. For example, the PSP offered the possibility of downloading content like demos, DLC, music, videos and most importantly full console-like games. You can say whatever you want to defend a system, but if it doesn’t have good games that will be a difficult task. Thankfully, the PSP had a strong library of games and some of them included: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, Burnout Legends, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Patapon, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and the list goes on and on.
One of the things that most of these titles have in common is their technical prowess. Yes, the console’s battery died after a few hours of playing games, but considering that you were playing titles that could easily be on the PS2 this was kind of understandable. Sony soon realized that many users did in fact wanted to play this type of games on the new portable system and the Japanese company started publishing games on both platforms almost simultaneously. Some of the games that were released for both consoles include Pro Evolution Soccer 2008, Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier, MotorStorm: Artic Edge, GTA: Vice City Stories and Liberty City Stories and so on.
Additionally, ever since the PSP came out players demanded a revision of the console with a right analog stick. Sony never released that console, but they took notice and the new PS Vita now has that highly requested feature. Surprisingly enough, Vita’s controls include: directional buttons, face buttons, dual analog sticks, two shoulder buttons, front touch screen, touch sensitive back panel and an accelerometer. The control scheme of the Vita could easily be implemented in a “regular” console and for some this offers limitless possibilities on a handheld. Now Sony needs to support that with games that make use of those controls, but I guess at the moment they are focusing more on titles that make use of the touch screen and the back panel.
Well, at this point it’s quite clear that most of the people who buy a Vita do in fact want a console-like experience. But there is another issue: where is that killer app that demonstrates that the Vita is capable of such a daunting task? Well, what about developing a port of an existent popular title? There are certain games that seem particularly suitable for the Vita if Sony could get a deal to port them to the system. Some examples that come to mind are: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (after all Oblivion was supposed to come out on the PSP but never did,) Red Dead Redemption, Fallout 3, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Heavy Rain, Half-Life 2: The Orange Box or Borderlands, among others. Sony is probably considering this, but at the moment they are focusing on new titles like the upcoming Modern Warfare game that will come out for the Vita. Whether it’s a port or an exclusive title, I know the Vita will eventually get that aforementioned killer app. What do you think? Did you get a Vita? Did you do it because it offers this kind of console-like experience? What games/ports would you like to see on the portable? Please, share your ideas on the matter in the comments section of the site.