Not long ago, I wrote a column about what feels, to me, like the PlayStation Vita's biggest problem. (You can read that full column here.) Basically, my complaint was that despite the Vita's impressive potential, it doesn't have any games that feel like system-sellers. And what's a tremendous piece of gaming hardware without its games? Well, apparently it's a system that doesn't sell very many units.
Since that column was published, there have been a couple new developments concerning the Vita, and I think both of them are worth taking into consideration in the context of last week's column.
First of all, the PS3 added Remote Play options to two of its HD bundles last week: God of War: Collection and the ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection. Basically, this allows you to turn on your PS3, set up Remote Play, and then play these games on your Vita over either a local network or a wireless Internet connection.
This functionality is pretty incredible, and it's something I'd definitely like to see come to more games in the future. It also increases the value of the Vita as a PS3 accessory. I've said this several times before, but the Vita is basically two devices in one. On one hand, it's a portable gaming device, but on the other, it's a very cool peripheral for the PS3. If Sony can continually find new ways to increase the Vita's value as both of these things, they could easily start to see their sales figures increasing. And this Remote Play functionality is definitely a point in favor of the Vita as PS3 peripheral. Especially when you consider that these games are some of the most beloved titles from the PS2 era.
However, I tried out this functionality for myself, and I realized there were a few problems with its implementation. First of all is the response time. Whenever I played over an Internet connection, there was notable lag and the animations were quite choppy. Part of this is due to the fact that I live in a densely populated area, and there's a lot of wifi interference. Still, it sucks.
The local network connection seemed to operate much more smoothly, with very little choppiness and next to no lag. And God of War looks great on the Vita's OLED screen. (I would have tried Shadow of the Colossus instead, but I seem to have lent my copy out to someone.) Then again, being forced to play locally definitely cuts down on the advantage of the Remote Play feature in the first place.
Another problem is that I'm not sure how comfortable I am leaving my PS3 running for extended amounts of time. I mean, it gets pretty hot in my little apartment, and leaving my PS3 running while I'm off running around the city for hours at a time makes me a little nervous. Maybe my concern isn't that valid (I mean, I do leave my laptop running pretty much all day, even while I'm out), but I still feel funny about leaving that PS3 on for so long when I'm not sitting in front of the TV.
A third problem with this—and this is one that goes back to my previous column—is that it doesn't do a whole lot to increase the value of the Vita as a gaming device. Sure, it lets you play your PS3 games on the go, but you can already play these games on the PS3. It's not adding any games that will make people say, "Woah, I need a Vita right now!"
Now, something else happened recently that I'd like to point out. Remember how I said the Vita was two devices in one, and the first one I mentioned was a handheld gaming console? Well, the Vita's value as one of those has increased too, but only in Japan. You see, a game called Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f was released, and it sold about a bajillion copies in Japan. In fact, it temporarily pushed weekly Vita sales over 50k, making it outsell the 3DS during that week.
Of course, I doubt we'll see this game hit U.S. shores, and even if it did, I doubt anyone would care. But I mention it because it validates my point about the Vita's appeal as a gaming console. If there are system-selling games, the system will sell. I mean, that's common sense, right? The Vita's biggest problem, as I stated last week, is a lack of such titles.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is coming out later this month, and perhaps that could see a bump in Vita sales. But I have a feeling a lot of people are going to pass on that if LBP Vita doesn't do anything significantly different than LBP2. But the jury is out on that, and, in fact, you'll be able to read my review of the game later this month to find out if it manages to be a worthy addition to your Vita game library.
My prediction: The Vita needs to attack two very different fronts in order to be successful. First of all, it needs to prove its value as a PS3 peripheral. Recently, it seems to be doing okay on that front. Secondly, though, and this is the important one, it needs to prove its value as a standalone handheld gaming system. This is the area where it's struggling.
I'm pretty sure Sony understands this; I just hope they're able to do something about it before we all write off the Vita as a lost cause. Because I freakin' love that thing.
Editor / News Director
Date: September 13, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*