Where Does PlayStation All-Stars Island Leave The Vita?

PlayStation All-Stars Island is an interesting venture from Sony into the realm of mobile gaming, taking several of PlayStation’s most popular current characters and merging them with Coca-Cola Zero to launch a platform for free mobile mini-games.

The first of which, Uncharted: Drake’s Pursuit, released yesterday – it’s essentially a Temple Run clone with some unique twists involving cameos from other PlayStation characters, such as Ratchet’s sidekick Clank and Kat from Gravity Rush. It’s actually quite fun – it takes the endless running formula and adds balance mechanics when Drake meets with a fallen tree and even some simple climbing gameplay at points, which is handled similarly to the touch features of the Uncharted Vita title, Golden Abyss.

Along the way, Drake will collect coins for both points and Coke Zero Drops, which fill a bottle of the drink. Once the bottle is full, tapping it will invite another PlayStation character into Drake’s game, taking the gameplay up into the skies. Clank’s micro-game within the mini-game involves collecting coins by jumping on bouncepads, while Kat’s involves manipulating gravity in order to collect coins suspended between two planes.

It’s good fun then, with plenty of just-one-more-go replay value to be found, as your objectives are constantly updated upon completion and tokens – to buy power ups such as instant replay and giant Coke Zero Drops – drive you on to play more. Yes, the adverts and product placements are extremely intrusive, but one could argue that it’s a better solution than in-app purchase reminders halting you every few minutes.

The real wonder here is why Sony didn’t launch this for their own handheld platform, the PlayStation Vita. Or better yet, PlayStation Mobile – their own form of a mobile app store, instead of the Apple AppStore and Google Play Store.

Coca-Cola probably has something to do with it – it’s able to reach a much wider audience for advertising through these much larger phone markets, rather than Sony’s relatively exclusive PSN or under-utilised PSM. So, what does that say about the PlayStation Vita? Is Sony not publishing their own game on the system bad news?

Not necessarily, since it’s clear that this is a game made out of a want for money rather than a love for gaming. It’s that love which shines through with all the brilliant indie games and apps on the Vita, and is completely absent from this advert-packed, light romp around the PlayStation Island.

And while island doesn’t have that, it does have the brand factor – now, if you search PlayStation (as many children would, I assume, after a short while away from their PS3) on a mobile app store, you’ll immediately see an easy to download and free to play medley of the strongest PlayStation characters and – perhaps more importantly – an advertisement for Coca-Cola.

Whether or not this was the best place to take the PlayStation All-Star brand is debateable, and turning it into an advertising tool rather than a sustainable fighting franchise certainly feels like an odd move. However, Sony just couldn’t replicate the Super Smash success of Nintendo, so this seems like a suitable option.

You’d never expect Nintendo to partner with a drinks company and release Mario to a wider market, even with the Wii U’s current troubles. Nintendo are far more confident with their core characters, recently saying that they’d never provide their “precious resources” for other platforms.

It will be interesting to see how the Island handles the upcoming additions of Sackboy, Cole McGrath and Kat, each with their own mini-games, and if they follow the same path as Drake’s Pursuits. Going by the names – LittleBigPlanet: Epic Race, inFamous: Survival and Gravity Rush: Infinite Skies respectively – they all sound like three more endless runners, designed purely to include more than one franchise. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

All that really does is leave the PlayStation Vita in the same place as before; there are plenty of charming indie games available which are much better than this nicely disguised advertising material. PlayStation Mobile, however, might as well be gone now – if Sony themselves aren’t supporting it with their own games, then it serves little to no purpose and won’t attract more developers.

I’m not entirely sure what All-Stars Island will do for PlayStation in terms of brand value, but in terms of monetary gain it certainly seems like a good move for Sony. Perhaps the Island is just a way to push the PlayStation brand with the release of the PS4 and the hopeful return of these characters in the next generation, as well as providing a cashflow boost from the mighty Coca-Cola corporation.

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16 Comments

  1. Good read , personally i think the Vita owners have nothing to fear and that your last paragraph sums up the reasons for this release perfectly ie WONGA .

  2. It wouldn’t have been a bad idea to put this on the Vita as well, but this is primarily an advert. People play this, they want to buy Uncharted/Gravity Rush/LBP/Ratchet and Clank etc, or at least look into it.

    Its not aimed at us, we have these consoles and these games, its for those who don’t.

  3. It gets a lot of the iconic PlayStation characters out to people who probably don’t really know them and increase their brand awareness, especially around more casual audiences.

    I think it also says “look you could have these on a phone but they are a weak substitute for the really thing”.

    I wonder how many will see Sackboy and think “wow isn’t he cute”. Then they can get the adverts for LBP Vita for LBP Karting or LBP2 etc… on their phone through the app.

    The PS4 is going to have phone connectivity so I don’t think it’s a bad idea that they get people used to playstation content on phones. This is just a marketing tool, I wouldn’t have expected this on the Vita or as a PSM title and wouldn’t have wanted it either.

  4. The game, while brilliant, is just a marketing opportunity for Coke & Sony, that’s why it isn’t on Vita. How many people own a Vita? Not many. How many people own an iOS or Android powered phone or tablet? A large number of the population. Why market to a small audience when you’re clearly trying to push your brand?

  5. Interesting how the tone of reporting is so different here to the articles on MS & Doritos iphone promotion.

    • Yeah it’s nice to see an article so positive,the playstation brand is just going from strength to strength and with my favorite fizzy pop brand woo yeah.

      • Hopefully thy

      • Hopefully they can keep the tone on future MS articles as well.

    • I quite enjoyed the Crash Course game with Doritos, although I have yet to play the second.

  6. Some very interesting points raised. Like others have said though, this is merely a cross-brand promotion, and iOS & Android were always going to be the right places to launch to ensure widespread appeal for both parties. Promoting anything, especially Sony characters, on what is currently still somewhat of a niche Sony handheld wouldn’t be all that beneficial or appealing to anyone.

  7. My poor old iphone 3GS is struggling with it, not that i’m hugely disappointed :)

  8. Great stuff Blair.

    Personally, I think it’s an egregious assault on the hard-won characters that define the modern PlayStation brand for me. It cheapens those characters immensely to take them from stars of social and creative endeavour (like Sackboy) and character-driven, intricate narrative (Drake and Kat a little too) and push them into nothing more than advertising mascots, paid to promote whatever the whims of big business requires of them.

    Next time Drake has an outing (if?) I’ll listen to his quips and partake in his excellent characterisation but in the back of my mind, I might think “that’s the dick that’s in the Coke Zero adverts” and that will be a shame.

    That’s not to say that I begrudge this (or even dislike it – the game itself is okay). I don’t own those characters, PlayStation can do what they want with them. I just think it cheapens them for me – as the PlayStation All-Stars fighting game did. But then, PS All Stars isn’t for me, it’s for younger audience who doesn’t already have a connection with these characters and I suppose it gets them a connection. If that then leads to them playing “proper” games featuring those characters and adding their £40 to the pile that keeps my hobby alive then fuck it, pass me a Coke.

    • Have to agree, Peter. This does nothing except cheapen characters and brands already cheapened by an ill-concieved fighting game.

      I can understand sony want to push out their characters to mass market, but the character roster they have does not lend itself well to mass marketing. The beauty of sony franchises is not in the name, brand or iconography, but in the characters in their correct context, within their own game-worlds.

      Even sackboy, sony’s most prominent candidate for mass market appeal is a failure outside of his games, keyrings aside, and this is in part due to the quirky indie appeal that gave birth to him. Drake too, although a great character, is nothing without the context of adventuring and other similarly well-written characters to bounce off.

      You can shoehorn drake into any number of appalling mobile games, but it will not sell to me. I tried the game on my iphone, got bored of the clunky controls and awful shallow gameplay, and deleted. I can’t be the only one who deleted the app within minutes of it downloading.

      If sony are truly serious about gaining mass market support they need to keep new IP coming, taking the same risks as they have with media molecule and naughty dog et al and just keep making great games.

      And if you’re listening Sony, please, if you make an Uncharted movie, do it with ND as a CG movie. The talent is there to pull it off and a live action version will always be wrong.

      Drake without his voice, without sully, and without the trademark art style would be like the beatles reforming but with the dead ones replaced with the gallagher brothers and paul mccartney acting only as creative consultant, his place in the band filled by gary barlow. Obviously ringo would be the drummer.

      • If Sony are truly intent on breaking the mass market then they need to market. Look at the hype MS manage to generate in comparison to Sony. Nintendo have Mario which would be recognised by most anyone below the age of 40.

      • Thought about this a bit since the game came out, and I’m pretty sure this doesn’t value these characters any more than the last All-Stars game did. Chucking Drake in a fighting game actually makes less sense than putting him in a Temple Run clone. One that, pound for pound, might even be a better game than Battle Royale.

        Does the Coke thing get in the way? Yes, of course, that’s the idea. Does it make the game disposable? Nope, it simply means that the devs had the cash to make this happen.

        Let’s be honest, Island is fine. It’s lighthearted but it’s an equal to similar games in the genre, and if it wasn’t for Drake and co I might not even have noticed it. Will it spoil Uncharted 4? No way, the character dancing around in a 2D scrapper didn’t, and Island is much closer to the Uncharted mechanics.

        I approve.

      • Oh, and as for the Vita? Can’t see this making any difference to sales of the hardware or the game, and I doubt that’s Sony’s intention.

        Why isn’t it on the Vita? Market size?

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