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PlayStation Vita at E3: Hopes and Expectations

Time to re-Vita-lise.

I’ve noticed something over the past few months. Spend more than five minutes browsing any website that writes about videogames and you’ll probably see them say that this year’s E3 showing from Sony is going to be all about the Vita. Of course, it’s not going to be all about the Vita. The PlayStation 3 will still be a huge focus for the company, as we’ve explored elsewhere in this mini series of speculative E3 articles (PS3 covered here and 360 here).

But the Vita hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. With E3 coming just as Vita users seem to be wondering where the new games are, Sony has the chance to kick on and really invigorate the platform as we head into the Vita’s first, incredibly important, holiday season.

While browsing those websites about videogames, all shouting about how important the Vita is at Sony’s 2012 E3, you might also have noticed many wondering why Sony is announcing so much before the big show starts. Did you notice how much of that is Vita-related? Not a lot. Sony seems to be getting some smaller announcements out of the way, blurring the news cycle and distracting from the Vita with sizeable PlayStation 3 game announcements like God of War: Ascension. If that’s a conscious decision, it’s both incredibly smart and very exciting. Simply put: we don’t have much of an idea of what is coming on Vita. So let’s speculate a bit.

Does Cole have a Vita in that bag?
inFamous is one of those mid-level Sony exclusives that should, theoretically be due another instalment. It might arrive on the PS3 but given the limited scope for a proper series sequel, a spin off might be more likely. Although the time travel element of the plot allows for anything, doesn’t it? A handheld entry in the series seems to make sense though and the possibilities allowed by the Vita’s unique control systems could actually be quite exciting for an inFamous game.

LittleBigPlanet Vita should be shown off in a big way, and should finally receive a firm release date. The heavy rumours of Assassin’s Creed and Ghost Recon making an appearance seem likely too, after those retailer leaks. Ghost Recon’s Vita appearance fits with Ubisoft’s stated aims to expand that franchise. Assassin’s Creed making an appearance, with some sort of PS3-linked functionality, would be exactly the sort of high profile landmark game the Vita needs heading into the holiday period.

So what else? Well, we can speculate that a Vita version of All Stars Battle Royale could be announced, possibly cross-compatible with the PS3 game. There’s not much to base this on, other than the simple fact that Vita needs games and Sony needs to play up the powerful nature of the device to differentiate it from competitors. What better way than aligning it with their HD console in as many ways as possible? It’s conceivable that we’ll see a lot of PS Vita to PS3 cross compatibility in everything Sony has, as well as plenty of their top third party partners too. It would be slightly surprising, for example, if Madden and FIFA 13 didn’t have cross compatible saves, at least.

Hopefully that desire to link the two platforms together will extend as far as making Remote Play work for more software and increasing the number of PS1 and PS2 classics, as well as Minis and PSP games that work on Vita. This might require a firmware update and that would be a great opportunity to iron out some of the little user interface issues with the device and, we can dream, redesign those hideously ugly icons.

The Call of Duty game for Vita that we’ve been told to expect will need some decent stage time too. Activision’s seemingly unstoppable FPS franchise has the potential to kick start the Vita all by itself so expect Sony to be very loud about it.

While on the subject of system sellers, if Sony can get something to do with Monster Hunter announced, they’ll be doing well but we’d expect that to be more suited to a Tokyo Game Show reveal later in the year, if at all. There’s some chance of an original Metal Gear game for the Vita at E3 though, and Square were always big supporters of the PSP so it wouldn’t be a huge leap to hope for something from the Final Fantasy stable.

The Vita’s 2011 E3 Sizzle video

There’s really nothing else that’s easy to pick. It seems like Sony’s pre-E3 information stream has successfully diverted our attention from digging up any major leaks surrounding Vita games. We’ll see more of the things we’ve already seen, presumably. That means more Dust 514 information and gameplay and it means a closer look at Soul Sacrifice. Sony could do worse than plenty of smaller announcements too. Think PSN games that are part of the “buy once, play everywhere” idea that made MotorStorm RC and Hustle Kings so appealing at the Vita’s launch.

It makes sense for Sony to push their PlayStation Suite for the Vita too. Detail it, announce some partnerships with leading mobile games developers like Ronimo (Angry Birds is already a Mini) and they’ll be halfway to securing the budget-priced future of the Vita’s bite sized gaming catalogue. This is pure hopeful speculation but if Sony could sign smaller, innovative developers, they’d be well on the way to finding a perfect fit for that pricing band. Think of Kairosoft’s catalogue (Game Dev Story, et al.) for the Vita, either through PlayStation Suite or Minis. Partnerships like that could potentially be as lucrative as deals done with larger, traditional publishers.

Smaller, simpler games with compelling gameplay hooks could be just as successful for Vita as bigger deals.
With the home consoles all seeming eager to cuddle up with media streaming partners, we can reasonably expect Sony to want the Vita in on that action too. Netflix already exists on US Vitas and we’d like to see that cross the Atlantic but it’s also tempting to think that the other media streaming applications could appear too. These will be different across regions but sports apps seem likely, especially the excellent MLB.TV which is already elsewhere on gaming devices, and the UK and Europe will hopefully see the usual catch up TV options.

Of course, with media streaming a possibility, there’s no reason why the Vita shouldn’t be considered as a viable platform for whatever Sony’s heavily rumoured game streaming announcement might be. It’s reasonable to expect PlayStation Plus to appear on the handheld in a more significant way too. Cloud saves are the bare minimum we’d hope for but some rumours suggest that there might be quite a lot more Plus love coming to the Vita soon.

Some rumours persist of a price cut. That would certainly reinvigorate sales but I personally think it’s a little too early to consider anything but a very slight drop in price. The recently announced French rebate scheme indicates that Sony want to make it appear more attractive to frugal adopters but large-scale, permanent changes to price structure might intimidate their financial departments. Sony probably has enough on the horizon to justify keeping the price as it is until early next year but the rebate scheme might be a toe in the water to see how much it drives sales and if successful… well, you never know. A much more likely announcement, in my opinion, is value-add bundles that make the Vita a more attractive proposition. Perhaps adding a memory card and game to the console at no extra cost.

So plenty to consider, and plenty of scope for surprises. That sounds like a good balance and a great opportunity to really push the Vita. I’m not sure how they’re going to fit it all in to just one stage show.

  1. bmg_123
    Since: Feb 2012

    I definitely wouldn’t want a main inFamous game on Vita. It’s a great device, but a main story game has to be on the big screen. I would, however, like to see the smaller spin offs with the same gameplay in likeness. All Sony need for the Vita at E3 are system sellers, with a few first-party exclusives thrown in, that would very much please me.
    Also, announce something that’s coming out soon! Gravity rush won’t tide me over for ever!

    Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 17:06.
    • bmg_123
      Since: Feb 2012

      I know that a GTA for the Vita would certainly kickstart many of my friends to get a Vita…

      Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 17:29.
    • Taylor Made
      Since: Oct 2011

      What’s wrong with full fledged infamous, the game fits the vita. Imagine having to push the back pad to power up you electricity, infamous needs to come to also festive of blood

      Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 20:08.
      • bmg_123
        Since: Feb 2012

        Nothing wrong with a “full-fledged” inFamous, just I would rather it be a spin-off rather than something that continues the story, as this would be far better suited on PS3, and not cut off fans of the franchise on PS3.

        Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 20:23.
  2. Cutter.T
    Since: Jun 2009

    The LittleBigPlanet Vita beta has been getting some great impressions (native res, 4xmsaa, solid 30FPS, more features than LBP2, transferable costumes etc.). Media Molecule is supposedly working on a NEW IP for the Vita, hopefully that will be announced at E3 (LBP 2 was released some time ago so they should have something. Madden though has been confirmed to not have cross-plat saves, which is an abomination IMO. (Hopefully FIFA will as that sold quite well on the Vita I believe.) Also, Kojima productions DID confirm hat all there future games will be on the Vita.

    Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 17:21.
  3. uncleniccius
    Since: Jan 2012

    Just played the Gravity Rush demo… stunning. More titles like that please Sony? LBP needs a date at E3.

    Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 17:41.
  4. Jakster123x
    Since: Aug 2011

    All awesome ideas, hopefully most of them come to fruition.

    Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 17:43.
  5. Tomhlord
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Apr 2009

    Wait, what time travel element of inFamous…?!

    Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 18:48.
    • colossalblue
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      I guess we’re past the limit by now but I should still do this:


      At the end of the first inFamous you find out that the mysterious guy contacting you is actually Cole from the future. Time travellin’

      Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 19:45.
  6. ico
    Since: Aug 2010

    Guessing the game dev story picture is not representative of sony hq bods beavering away at new vita titles but we can always hope!

    Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 19:14.
  7. Watchful
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Oct 2008

    I want to find out some specifics about what we can plug into the PS Vita’s accessory port. Sony have been pretty quiet about that so far.

    Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 20:11.
    • colmshan1990
      Since: Apr 2009

      Oh good point.
      They must have something lined up for it surely.
      But what?

      Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 20:36.
    • Kennykazey
      Since: Mar 2010

      Yeah, what’s up with that? Maybe it’s for connecting a third analouge stick?

      Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 20:41.
    • colossalblue
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      Vitality Sensor.

      Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 20:47.
      • nemesisND1derboy
        Since: Apr 2010


        Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 16:17.
    • Sympozium
      Since: Aug 2009

      I haven’t a clue what it is. TV out I suppose.

      Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 01:08.
  8. sambadude
    Since: Jul 2010

    If there’s anything I want to see for Vita at E3. It’s an actual announcement on the COD game for it, what features will it have, what’s it called, when’s it set etc. An infamous game, maybe a youtube app, an iPlayer app, ITV on demand app, 4OD app etc.

    Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 20:31.
    • Sympozium
      Since: Aug 2009

      I want to see PS Suite actually being announced for it or I don’t know the plan, hopefully 3rd Party apps

      Comment posted on 31/05/2012 at 01:06.
  9. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Infamous 3 pleeeeeeeeaaaaaasssssseeeeee!

    Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 21:37.
  10. bunimomike
    Since: Jul 2009

    Does Cole have a Vita in that bag?

    If he’s in London, he’ll be mugged in no time.

    Comment posted on 30/05/2012 at 22:03.

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