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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.

  1. quinkill
    Since: Oct 2010

    Great article, but i’m still playing through my launch games. PS1 compatibility is a real issue that Sony should be able to provide without too much difficulty surely?

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 13:09.
  2. bunimomike
    Since: Jul 2009

    I think Sony’s business plan is hugely flawed. It should be utterly bristling with games from £2 to £20. Sure, bring out the heavy hitters but concentrate on the pick=up-and-play games that are perfect for on-the-go gaming. Sony still appear naive when going about their mobile strategy and the Vita appears to be suffering from PSPGo-itis.

    Ludicrous when you look at the market and how it’s changed (smartphone games, etc). I want the Vita to do really well and, of course, time will tell but for me – I don’t like the little signals the industry is already picking up on.

    Finally, saying all of that, if it’s profitable then Sony will be happy. Nuff said.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 13:09.
    • Sympozium
      Since: Aug 2009

      Yeah I think a few should be low price, the pricing for the PSP games is decent enough for me but for Vita I’d rather see stuff like Ridge Racer or the Gameloft games at £3 or something. Way too expensive but then I don’t mind the likes of Wipeout or UC.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 14:18.
    • cc_star
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Forever

      “I think Sony’s business plan is hugely flawed. It should be utterly bristling with games from £2 to £20.”

      Totally agree, especially around the £2-£6 mark although that’s going to require the PSSuite and the wider audience it may bring… if it ever gets up & running properly.

      The PSSuite is the ace up Sony’s sleeve & as often happens with Sony things are happening in a way that’s far from ideal. It’s only just launched in beta and not even available on Mac, where many the developers of these highly playable which are expertly suited to be mobile games reside.

      £40 mobile games is such a limited market, surely the majority people who’re are interested in them, were interested enough to have already bought a Vita.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 23:44.
  3. mr.red
    Since: Apr 2012

    I read a comment elsewhere that I think reads true;

    “The Vita’s actually got less of a drought than most systems that have been launched before it, it’s just the internet driving the ADHD sensationalism of today’s society.”

    I remember the N64 drought, the PS2 drought and the garbage about the PS3 being a failure soon after it’s release. The Vita’s launch line up is the best I’ve ever seen for a handheld.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 13:15.
    • Sympozium
      Since: Aug 2009

      I agree, its been taken too far. The line-up and the PSP games does it for me.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 13:53.
    • bunimomike
      Since: Jul 2009

      Never a truer word spoken – “internet driving the ADHD sensationalism”. My god, it drives me insane to see this knee-jerk reaction that the internet allows and then the hive mind join in… even if the news isn’t true. Sod facts, eh?

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 15:30.
  4. gazzagb
    Master of speling mitakse
    Since: Feb 2009

    I wouldn’t call it a lull, I’d say Vita is dying. No-one is talking about it anymore, there are no decent games coming out any more, and therefore I can’t see people buying it. The ‘AAA’ games like AC and COD may re-inject some life, but without a hefty price drop and more than just 2 AAA games, Vita is just going to fade away.

    Of course, this is all my opinion and fanboys / Vita owners will probably disagree.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 13:19.
    • tonycawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      I hate to say it but I’m in agreement with you.

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

      No one talked about the PS3 (positively) when that launched plus there was lack of games to buy. Did that fade away?

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 13:51.
      • gazzagb
        Master of speling mitakse
        Since: Feb 2009

        It’s hard to compare home consoles and handheld consoles, but I honestly can’t see Vita being a great ‘success’ (however you like to define that).

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 14:18.
      • Sympozium
        Since: Aug 2009

        Well its too early to say really, guess it depends how well it performs by Xmas. If it disappoints at E3 or it doesn’t get certain Japanese titles then there’s a huge problem for Sony.

        Other than that a price cut could be best.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 14:24.
      • gazzagb
        Master of speling mitakse
        Since: Feb 2009

        I think it’s already had it tbh, sure, with a new monster hunter and a couple of AAA games in time for xmas combined with a price drop may re-inject some life, but I reckon that it won’t last much longer after that, and will quickly fade away just like it’s done so soon after release.

        Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 15:01.
      • skibadee
        Since: Oct 2009

        gaz your talking garbage imo.

        Comment posted on 26/04/2012 at 06:02.
    • skibadee
      Since: Oct 2009

      I remember you tweeting I hope it fail just before the launch so guess you will be happy if does.

      Comment posted on 26/04/2012 at 06:07.
  5. Stealth20k
    Since: Apr 2012

    Anyone with a brain could figure why this happened

    Contrary to what this article says the launch lineup was not very good, and did not have the bredth of NEW CONTENT that the psp had at launch……nor the constant flow of new titles

    The resistance psp game was great because it was different…..and it didnt push that many units so no reason to expect the vita one will……

    phantays star online 2 is a port, which is part of the problem

    The psp got 2 ORIGINAL phantasy star adventures

    Using the vita as a port device will doom it.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 13:32.
    • Sympozium
      Since: Aug 2009

      Yes it needs Phantasy Star Portable 3.. rather than Online 2. I’d still like to play it though even if its a port.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 14:25.
  6. JBoo
    Since: Oct 2011

    This comment is hidden.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 13:39.
    • Sympozium
      Since: Aug 2009

      Yeah sometimes its bad if each didn’t have backwards compatibility then I’d dislike them plus a drought makes its worst.

      Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 14:15.
  7. TSBonyman
    Since: Dec 2009

    I bought Uncharted and a few of the cheap psn games, Blobs, Stardust, Escape Plan but there’s little else there to excite me. I’ll be much happier when there are more games along the lines of Uncharted, a selection of FPS and some decent racing games available on Vita.
    E3 might bring some surprises and hopefully PSS will trigger some more interest when that get’s going properly.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 15:17.
  8. Omac_brother
    Since: Nov 2011

    I would love to see more games coming out for the Vita but so far, ive appreciated the quality of the titles (and got 2 platinum trophies, Unit 13 and Uncharted GA, in the process) a lot more than I do with my PS3 games. Im fine with this slow drip feed of games as long as the quality stays high. (Please Burning Skies, be good)
    Perhaps we have been spoilt with the plethora of quality that was available at release? After all, it was an amazing launch list?

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 15:39.
  9. Gadbury
    Since: Jan 2009

    Bought mine on launch day. Use it daily. Only have one full priced game; Everybody’s Golf. Great game. PSN-wise, I’ve got Motorstorm, About A Blob, Startdust, Hustle Kings. All paid for. The reason I play daily? Treasures of Montezuma Blitz, and that is free! All the power and tech and I’m playing a puzzle game. Truth be told, the PSN games are great and Vita needs those. I’ve signed up for Playstation Suite beta. Hopefully this initiative means we get loads of innovation and variety. I didn’t buy my Vita for scaled-down PS3 games.

    Comment posted on 25/04/2012 at 19:54.
  10. Bambo_19
    Since: Dec 2011

    Im going to start of with saying the lull almost got me in. I got my vita on release date with fifa and uncharted and sure I had my hands full for the first couple weeks especially my impulse buy of Escape plan and Motorstorm RC.
    There are many directions the vita needs to go and maybe sony want to do them one by one so it drags out a long period of time while we wait for AAA Games..
    Example: they will allows PS1 compatibility to keep us happy while we get games like gravity rush and resistance burning skies.. then something along the lines of PS3 remote play games and they certainly need more £5 games to keep the impulse buying up.. That again wont keep us happy for too long as £5 games fizzle away quite quick.
    but by then we wont care coz games like COD, AC, MGS and hopefully many more will be round the corner but this all has to happend b4 christmas. Coz if it doesnt there gona be in trouble..

    And I wonder if the Vita games sales are gonna be good when AAA games come out as most people will have a ps3 and will they prefer the big titles like GOW accession, Blops, AC3 and many other big games.
    Sorry for the rant :)

    Comment posted on 26/04/2012 at 02:49.

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