Opinion: Can the PlayStation 4 save the PS Vita?

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PSVita_FeaturedImageHandheld consoles have taken a beating in the last year. While PlayStation’s Vita does supply a spectacular gaming experience in the palm of your hand, the platform just hasn’t had enough games on offer. The newly announced PlayStation 4 is aiming to make that a moot point.

Taking PS4 games mobile with you? Yes please!

Taking PS4 games mobile with you? Yes please!

When Sony dropped the PS4 bomb last Thursday many of us didn’t know what exactly to expect. The PS Vita cross platform functionality is something that it definitely pulled out of its bag of tricks and has unlimited potential if it lives up to Sony’s initial promises. Here’s the rub.

Sony wants gamers to have access to the entire PlayStation 4 catalogue of games anywhere at anytime. This includes the complete back catalogue of PS1, PS2 and PS3 titles. A lofty goal to be sure and through the use of Gaikai cloud technology it is set to make gamers’ wildest dreams come true.

By utilising this technology, which I’m assuming will require a solid WiFi connection and sizable download limit via a tiered subscription based service (time to start investing in a 4G network), you’ll be able to stream any game from any generation of PlayStation hardware to mobile devices. The focus, obviously, will centre on the PlayStation Vita. The implications are staggering.

Imagine you’re at a crucial point in the latest Killzone extravaganza or mid-level through inFamous: Second Son and you have to head on out to engage in that crazy thing people call life. Rather than lament the time away from your beloved console you can take it on the road with you and as you’re waiting for a bus or train, or sitting in a cafe, continue on at your leisure. It’s a bold move that I, for one, never saw coming and really hope works for Sony.

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I initially didn’t recognise the PS Vita’s usefulness as a gaming device. Rather, I considered it as more of a mobile multimedia hub to listen to music or play movies. It’s biggest flaw, and my biggest gripe, was a lack of enticing titles to warrant its purchase. Sure there are some great releases, such as Gravity Rush, SoundShapes, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and the upcoming Killzone: Mercenary looks the business, but there’s been a long wait between drinks for must have titles.

Being able to access a multitude of titles on the go, however, is an absolute game changer, no pun intended. Game support by developers will become a thing of the past as Vita owners use it as a bridging mechanism to keep their PS4 with them at all times. It’s a hell of a smart move by Sony and one as both a hardcore gamer and PS Vita advocate, I embrace wholeheartedly.

The Vita has been languishing in the wilderness, desperate for attention since its launch bar a few shining lights. This move by Sony should ensure the the PlayStation 4’s diminutive cousin should live a long and fruitful existence in our hands for the next few years at least. The silver lining is this new lease on life should deal a crushing blow to the Nintendo 3DS which may be a fine gaming handheld in its own right, but doesn’t begin to offer the options the Vita does.

In one fell swoop Sony has managed to increase the shelf life of a struggling console, offer an unprecedented selection of games on the go and drive  nail into the coffin of its most serious competitor. Well played Sony. Well, if you can pull it off, that is. I’ll be rooting for you.

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Dave Kozicki

Shotgun Samurai
Video game reviewer, presenter and enthusiast. Film and TV-aholic. Pop culture geek. T-shirt and sneaker addict. All around nice guy and one hell of a sexy beast. Writer for Official PlayStation Magazine AU, AusGamers and Hyper Magazine.
  • Northy179

    They seem to have copied the Wii-U but in a more half-hearted fashion.

    It kind of reminds me of when the PS3 released with a blu-ray drive built in and the Xbox 360 had the HD-DVD drive as an accessory. Even though the HD-DVD was an arguably better format, it died because of this pathetic level of early support.

    It’s the same with every device which has games which require specific accessories to run, it always falls in to a sort of niche market, sure there will be a lot of people who go and buy the accessories for it but the vast majority (myself included) won’t care, its just extra crap if you aren’t going to use it all the time and most importantly if there are no good games.

    That said, I think this was a great move by Sony, even if the only gain is more games getting made for the PS Vita, we are now a fair few months in to it’s life with a horrible line up of games.

    I still thing the best thing they could do is open the console up to indie developers in a non-mainstream area that people can access and buy a moderated selection of games.

  • DoGM3At

    You have some very valid points dude, however I don’t know if I would call the Vita an accessory. The idea of using the PS4 for streaming sounds like a way to get more use onto a console that is being underutilized.
    Sure, the Vita is now a empty money waster and if it wasn’t for Persona 4 would still be in the corner of my room uncharged, but a move like this is a great way to expand it’s a usefulness without relying on third party companies. This could, as you said, up sales and sell more units, but it can also set the Vita up for years to come. Cloud tech can run on almost any device so not only are you expanding your library but you are also setting up a system for future types of games to come.

    Also, on the indie angle I couldn’t agree more. The thing Sony needs to sort first is their store. Titles that are not blockbuster status do not get any lime light unless they are sponsored and even as a PS Vita user who is desperate for games, I cannot afford to fork out $10 on a title without at least some screen shots and a video.

  • Northy179

    granted, the PS Vita isn’t exactly an accessory because it has standalone usage unlike the Wii-U controller which seems to only be useful with the console. However I stand by my point that games which utilise both “really well” would fall upon niche appeal due to the requirement to own both, sort of like an accessory.

    The PS Vita just seems to be in a very dangerous space when really it should be dominating! The market has changed thanks to iOS, yet Apple are doing very little to capitalise on the success of iOS gaming. Game Center was a nice start but has received very little development since implementation.

    I understand opening up a platform to indies and low price publishing of games pisses off the big developers because they can’t justify charging the same prices anymore and their discoverability drops but I’m sure there are ways to implement it well. Microsoft have a HUGE opportunity with the next version of xbox live arcade should sony fail to pull of indie implementation.

  • kozeeii

    Well said Northy. I love the Vita as a console and want to see it thrive. I don’t give a shit what I play on it, be it PS Vita exclusives, or PS1,2,3 or PS4, just keep giving me games. You’re totally right, it should be absolutely dominating the handheld market.

  • http://www.facebook.com/colintm Colin Thomas Marks

    In Australia at least, the average mobile download allowance is maybe a couple gig. Breach that and the premiums skyrocket, not fun watching bills go 3 fold cause u accidentally went over. Public Wi-Fi is barely useful for opening web pages over a span of even minutes. And a standard ADSL 2+ in the metro can barely stream youtube videos in real time.
    Everyone really thinks the Vita will seamlessly run 45 GB games off the cloud? Even PS2 games that ran on about 32 megs of RAM at 9GB games. Streaming that kind of data without lag in a timely fashion???

  • http://www.facebook.com/colintm Colin Thomas Marks

    Btw, this is still assuming the general populace is willing to lash out for PS4 and PSVita

  • kozeeii

    You raise some valid points, Colin. The real question is how well will the Vita work once you’re away from your home WiFi network.We’re assuming there will be subscription networks through Sony Australia but at what cost and as you say, how functional will it be? We can only speculate for now.

  • Northy179

    I’m more concerned about how the PS4 will operate with the limited data plans in Australia… I’m all for their new strategy of not pissing people off with 6 hours of updates whenever you turn the frigging thing on but pre-downloading games which I might buy based on history??? So if I have someone’s kid over and he brings over some “hannah montana pony fun time extreme” game to play on my ps4, is it then going to download 80gb hannah montana branded games in the background using up all my data usage and slowing my network to a halt while I’m trying to play games on other consoles?

    Even more importantly, if I choose to opt out of such services as background downloading of rubbish, do I then face 12 hours of downloads before I can play games instead of the previously disgusting 6 hours. Will developers design games with more freedom the bloat file sizes because of the background downloading services and will the servers be able to handle millions of people leeching millions of GB of potentially useful game data?

    The cloud service “On Live” died an early death because the upkeep costs for such a service were ridiculous, how will PSN be different?