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Opinion

Into The Vita's Lull - And Out The Other Side

Summer drought?

This is a lull.

Every console gets them after their launch, but Vita’s seems a little bit – well – long term. And it’s not like Sony are shouting about future titles: there aren’t any; it’s too expensive; nobody wants to pay £40 for a mobile game and the line up’s non-existant. It’s all over a few months after it started, and with a future PlayStation console surely on the horizon, is the manufacturer itself already moving on?

Er, no. Of course not. But the situation’s not exactly all super happy and shiny – sales figures are dipping, Japan’s seemingly bored of the current array of games and it’s hardly setting the shelves alight over here in the West. Sony are still behind it, that much is natural and hardly a surprise, and I’ll come back to that. But first – that lull.


FIFA was one of the strongest launch performers.
Many (rightly) said that the Vita’s launch lineup was the best a games machine has ever seen. It was – that’s pretty much a fact, no matter how objective you try to be: a WipEout, a few racers, a brilliant Uncharted and some cracking third party support are just a selection of highlights. But that was then, day one, and those days have been and gone.

Was Sony right to pre-load the launch so heavily? Probably not. Had Sony been a little more picky and held back games like the dramatically undercooked ModNation Racers for a month or so, the day one list would have still been strong, but gamers would have something to look forward to alongside Unit 13.

Zipper’s third person shooter was ready for launch, but was kept to one side for precisely the right reason: people are more likely to pick up games that release after the first week because they’re new, they’ve been paid since and want something that all their mates are playing. If Unit 13 had been available at the start, would it have gathered nearly as much hype and free press? Almost certainly not.

ModNation Racers was evidently not ready for the Vita’s launch, and the excuses for pulling online play were hard to swallow. As a result, and this is hardly unique to MNR, games shipped with bugs, nasty loading times and – my personal worst thing in the world ever – sub native resolution display. Seeing the likes of Everybody’s Golf running at what looks like PSP resolution upscaled breaks my heart.

The games were big names, big games, but not every single one of them needed to land as soon as the console launched – FIFA and Uncharted took the lion’s share of sales, and everything else bubbled below.

What did fall into place was the PSN-only content: MotorStorm was (and still is) a delight – brilliantly priced and massively addictive; Escape Plan was cute and supported well and Drinkbox’s second Blob game was a nicely presented and mechanically sound platformer that literally oozed charm. Sony haven’t really followed through with PSN games, but when they do – like Pure Chess last week – there’s the incentive to buy that I mentioned earlier.

But it’s telling, and perhaps a little surprising, that a lot of the third party games (like Rayman and Virtua Tennis) run best and look best.

Ifs and buts won’t get us anywhere, though, the sales charts speak for themselves and Sony know that something needs to kick into gear, and quickly. Oddly, though, they’ve seen fit to continue to push exclusive PS3 games (God of War: Ascension, and their All Star fighting game) rather than preempting E3 with new Vita goodies. But perhaps that’s the point: June’s big show can be Vita heavy, and nobody will really mind.

But the guns will need to be very much blazing. By then Resistance will be out, LittleBigPlanet around the corner and Gravity Rush presumably featuring heavily in everyone’s wishlists. Those three are all pretty big games (LBP especially) but it’s more towards Christmas that eyes will be looking when Sony take to their conference space in just a few weeks.


Killzone on the VIta. Now that's something to get excited about.
So, the lull. I’m looking for it to be peppered with the aforementioned trio shortly, but long term there needs to be more. Some big announcements from Sony and abroad, and I’m talking Call of Duty big – a mainline FPS that’s not a port and coming from Treyarch or Infinity Ward seems like a stretch, but it needs to be that kind of scale. Anything else will seem like a washout.

And, of course, there’s Monster Hunter. Soul Sacrifice might be great, and Phantasy Star Online 2 is around the year after, but Capcom’s evergreen game is massively missed, at least in Japan.

But Sony still have those killer game series: Killzone could build on Burning Skies’ foundations for example, and provide some killer multiplayer if done right and of course Gran Turismo could blow us away and make up for the rather lite gameplay the PSP version came hamstrung with. They don’t have to be playable in June, we just need to know they’re coming.

It would be hard to screw this one up. I love the Vita, it’s got bags of potential, but Sony need to get those games announced, start pouring out PSN games and really start courting developers with PlayStation Suite – the fact that a native Mac version of the development kit is absent is baffling.

Long live Vita.

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61 Comments
  1. SpikeyMikey23
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    I have hardly touched my Vita. I would love to get a good selection of new games to play on it and am looking forward to E3 for some big reveals. Until then, I wish they would sort out PS1 compatibility! That would make me happy

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:06.
    • bigbaldwolf
      Member
      Since: Mar 2012

      PS1 classics is a big thing that is missing from the Vita at the moment. They can do it so I don’t know why they are holding back on it. I have 6 ‘big’ games so far and a couple of the smaller ones from the store and they are keeping me busy enough but we need new announcements soon though because they have let the hype completely die

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:14.
      • tonycawley
        Pint! Pint!
        Since: Feb 2009

        No disrespect, but people don’t but expensive new consoles to play 15 year old games. Ps1 compatibility is not what’s missing, what’s missing is announcements of games that actually make me want to buy the vita. There’s no doubting its an amazing bit of kit, but right now I’m not that tempted as there’s not much I’m interested in playing on it.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:23.
      • bigbaldwolf
        Member
        Since: Mar 2012

        I’m not saying that PS1 classics are suddenly going to shift millions of units but it’s one thing I had on the PSP and don’t have on the Vita. For me, it is something that is missing that I had.

        Also, I did say that game announcements were needed and fast.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:29.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        I think you’re both right. Vita needs new games (annoucements at least), but also the PSOne compatibility seems to be a huge deal for a lot of people (more than I expected) which I’m quite shocked about so it would seem like a good idea to resolve this asap during the current lull.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:31.
      • SpikeyMikey23
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Don;t get me wrong, I want quality games for the Vita (especially COD) but I want PS1 compatibility so I can get more use from the Vita until more quality games arrive.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:32.
      • KeRaSh
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        I disagree. Why do you think people have emulators on their PSPs or smartphones/tablets? PS1 compatibility is technically possible. If you don’t want to play classic games then fine but don’t asume that your opinion is the only one that counts. Of course announcements about new games are much needed but I don’t see why any of these scenarios would have to be exclusive. If PS1 compatibility was unnecessary then I don’t understand why the classic FF games pop up so much in PSN top seller lists.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:38.
      • XisTG
        Member
        Since: May 2010

        PS1 games are important. I’m still playing my Vita, mora now after i bought Motorstorm, and my girlfriend is having fun with Tales From Space. But I already bought Final Fantasy 7, 8 and 9 expecting to play them on Vita. I still own those on disk; i really bought them again because playing them on an HDTV is too much of an eyesore.

        So yeah, more new games would be nice, but the PS1 is also a must :)

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 19:24.
    • dude90
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      You could just use Remote Play to play PS1 Classics.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:37.
      • bigbaldwolf
        Member
        Since: Mar 2012

        What if you don’t have a PS3?

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:38.
      • Bodachi
        Member
        Since: Jan 2010

        Or want to go outside and play them.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:04.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008

      Oddly enough I use mine everyday – feature coming v soon :)

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:06.
      • teflon
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        A Day In The Life of Tuffcub’s PS Vita?
        Awesome.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 13:43.
      • Cutter.T
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        I can’t get away from mine as well, there is actually a HUGE amount in the pipeline for it, but Sony isn’t blowing their trumper about it… again.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 18:12.
      • TSBonyman
        Member
        Since: Dec 2009

        TOMBlitz ensures my Vita is used daily even if i don’t have time for anything else. If you have one or two friends playing it it’s quite addictive and fun battling to constantly one-up them on the leaderboard – and it’s free.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 22:26.
  2. skibadee
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    still have about 20 of the launch games to try yet so I’m fine with how things are.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:12.
  3. Bilbo_bobbins
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    Personally I felt this happened with the PSP, I bought one, with a few games, then suddenly nothing decent came out, so I just left it to gather dust…that was a major reason I didn’t buy a Vita, because I thought it would happen again, plus its expensive for games, where I could buy an ipad and get great games for pennies….for me there is no comparison.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:16.
    • jikomanzoku
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      I feel very similarly, if it hadn’t been for transcoded TV programmes and Monster Hunter, my PSP would have joined yours on a dusty shelf.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:52.
  4. kjkg
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    I love my Vita, absolutely love it. But I will admit I’ve bought games I probably wouldn’t have bothered about because of the lull. Little Deviants and Everybodys Golf are the two that spring to mind just now.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:23.
  5. Youles
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    I’m happy with the lull – I have some quality games, so quantity doesn’t matter to me personally. This is PS3 backlog season for me anyway, so I’ll clear a path ready for future Vita and PS3 titles. MGS Collection and possibly Gravity Rush for me next.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 11:23.
    • Bodachi
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      I second that. I’ve got enough games to keep me busy for a while.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:05.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        I would think this the case for most people, given that the PS3 has had a great 12-months, plus with new and used games being picked up cheap (especially with GAME’s downfall).

        Not that this is an excuse for a lack of games on a different console, but I doubt many people have their Vita as their main console.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:17.
    • JohnnyBoy
      Member
      Since: Oct 2010

      I (sort of) agree. I like a lull to catch up. I’m currently playing Unit 13 on Vita (those timed missions are a NIGHTMARE) & just started AC Revelations on PS3. If COD or Resistance on Vita were out already I’d probably leave Unit 13 alone.
      However, in these lulls it would be good to know what AAA titles were coming up to get us all excited. I think thats part of what this article is getting at – the lull is not just in games being released, but also the hype and media coverage is in a lull.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:38.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Thats a fair point – an idea of what’s on the horizon would be nice. But all the time I don’t know, I’m just ploughing through the backlog! :)

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:50.
    • Kennykazey
      Member
      Since: Mar 2010

      Yeah, I’m struggling to keep up with an overload of games, so the so-called “lull” is actually quite welcome by me. In fact, it might be too short.

      I still look forward to see what Sony will show off for the Vita (and the PS3) at E3 of course.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 15:33.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Too right, the lull could carry on until Christmas and I’d still find old games to finish ;)

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 15:55.
    • JesseDeya
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      I agree, it feels more like a lull by name only because of the huge backlog of launch games I’ve stil got to get through. Just picked up MLB The Show (baseball) the other day taking my cartridge game count to eight (plus three more downloaded PSN games and a few minis) and that is WAY more than enough to occupy me at present. In fact, I can’t get enough time wit my Vita as it is!

      I think Sony are smart, they had a strong launch and now they’re saving some surprises for E3

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 23:13.
  6. jimmy-google
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    Same thing happened with the PS3. If anything it’s the lack of third party releases that is the issue. We already know the likes of killzone are bring worked on but a lot of the expected launch window games like super monkey ball, oddworld, doctor who etc.. still haven’t been released. My vita still gets more play than my PS3 at the moment but resistance is still a month away and there had been little else on the calendar for a while. Lego Batman 2 is pretty much all I can find

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:05.
  7. gaffers101
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    I’m very happy with my Vita hardware, but am a little dissapointed with what’s available now. For me games like Motorstorm RC, Escape Plan and that puzzle game (that’s a bit like jewel quest) are great, there needs to be a steady stream of reasonable priced games appearing on the store to keep people interested.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:16.
  8. mrfodder
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    I don’t need a rush of games this early in a consoles life, I’m happy with a trickle as long as they are good games. It gives me a chance to play them. I’ve got Mortal Kombat, Burning Skies and Gravity Rush on the horizon. I know I’ll pick up Rayman and Disgaea at some stage. That more than I can afford in time and money.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:26.
  9. LTG Davey
    andUandU
    Since: Aug 2008

    I know I got flamed for this yesterday (apparently, despite spending nearly £300 on the Vita + launch games, it’s unreasonable to expect new games to come out for it…) but the Vita runs a high risk of becoming like the PSP, i.e. great tech but nothing particularly special to play on it.

    Given Sony advertised the Vita as a handheld for hardcore gamers (lets be honest, they would never compete with the DS in the casual market, nor would parents buy their little kids £250 bits of kit to chuck around) they have set high expections and need to keep the new releases coming. Also, by “new releases” I mean actual retail games with more than a few hours gameplay, not just £5-10 mini-games off the PSN.

    Hopefully Sony announce a decent set of games at E3.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:45.
    • colmshan1990
      Member
      Since: Apr 2009

      I’m not sure you can call yourself a hardcore gamer and label all PSN games as £5-£10 minigames.

      Most of them quite simply are not.

      Some of the most innovative and some of the most difficult games of the PS3 era for me have come from the PSN.

      And there’s not much available on the PSN for the Vita which could really be labelled as a minigame. Escape Plan, Super Stardust, Motorstorm? Nope.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 13:26.
    • Sympozium
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      “Also, by “new releases” I mean actual retail games with more than a few hours gameplay, not just £5-10 mini-games off the PSN. ”

      :/

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 14:13.
  10. Tomhlord
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Apr 2009

    Calm down, E3 is near

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 12:48.
    • skibadee
      Member
      Since: Oct 2009

      the Vita has so many doom people around it half probably do not even have one.

      Comment posted on 26/04/2012 at 06:09.

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