Is the PlayStation Vita dead? Um, no.
Since the launch of the PlayStation Vita, it has contended with a constant barrage of criticism, from analysts who simply cannot see a future for Sony’s latest handheld console. Indeed, in an age when consumers have become familiar with paying 59p for mobile games, encouraging them to spend £40 instead, albeit for a superior experience, is proving to be an uphill struggle.
Unfortunately, things just got a whole lot worse for the Vita, with the release of the abysmal Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified last week. The negative reception of the game has led certain websites to claim this is the final nail in the coffin for the console, with one publication writing, ‘in reporting its [Declassified’s] failure we feel like we’re writing an obituary for the PS Vita itself’.
We gamers are a fickle bunch, and we repeatedly insist on biting the hand that feeds us. The Vita is only the latest in a long line of hardware and games that it has become acceptable and almost ‘cool’ to rant about on the internet. As I stated above, even bona fide journalists aren’t above such immaturity, often adding fuel to the fire simply for the easy traffic.
Whether they’re talking about Final Fantasy XIII, Mass Effect 3, DmC: Devil May Cry or any other title, gamers absolutely love to spout their own opinions as fact. Nowadays, there seems to be a perception that whoever shouts the loudest is correct, so if a vocal minority say Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is going to kill the Vita, then this becomes the accepted opinion.
Seriously though, did anyone actually think Declassified was going to be good? Activision’s months of silence, followed by that terrible Gamescom trailer, surely left no doubt that it was going to be a complete embarrassment. But let’s be honest, if one bad release was enough to kill off an entire console, then Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo would have all folded many years ago.
The PS3 has Last Rebellion, Kung Fu Rider and Test Yourself: Psychology; the 360 has Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad, Fighters Uncaged and Bomberman: Act Zero; and the Wii has, well, frankly far too many to list. Every platform in history has its share of dreadful exclusives, but no one in their right mind would believe these games are a fair reflection of a console’s overall quality.
But I digress. This article isn’t about those other consoles; it’s about the PS Vita. More specifically, I hope to prove that claims of the handheld being dead are completely unfounded, and genuinely nothing more than shoddy and sensationalistic journalism. After all, it wasn’t that long ago when similar arguments were being levelled against Sony’s previous games console; and look at it now.
Do you remember nine months after the launch of the PS3? At that time, the amount of must-play games for the console could literally be counted on one hand, most likely with two or three fingers to spare. Meanwhile, the Vita already has a plethora of brilliant titles; Uncharted: Golden Abyss, WipEout 2048, Gravity Rush and LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, to name just a few.
The last month alone has also seen some great releases for the console, including (but by no means limited to) Street Fighter X Tekken, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Smart As; a huge variety of titles to appeal to a range of gamers, of all ages and skill levels.
They’re to be joined by Persona 4: Golden, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed in the next couple of weeks, with Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and Soul Sacrifice to follow early next year; and that’s without touching on games a little further away, such as Killzone: Mercenary, Tearaway and Warrior’s Lair.
If the prospect of playing at least one or two of those titles doesn’t have you salivating at the mouth, then you may wish to pay a visit to a doctor, as I’m afraid you might not be alive. With the Vita, Sony promised full console experiences on a handheld, and in my opinion its back catalogue and upcoming release line-up show it is delivering, in both first- and third-party support.
A brilliant example of this is PlayStation Plus, in particular its Instant Game Collection. The decision to include Vita games for existing PS3 subscribers is utter genius, as it could potentially encourage many more console sales; spending well over £200 on a Vita and memory card is much more palatable when you have a selection of games ready to download at no extra cost.
Something else that shows Sony hasn’t lost touch with what consumers want is PlayStation Mobile. I said earlier that gamers are used to paying 59p for mobile titles, but with PSM they can do just that, and play them on multiple devices. It obviously has an extremely long way to go if it wants to be seen as a viable alternative to the App Store, but the early games (and prices) are convincing.
While it’s true Sony often makes very questionable decisions when it comes to public relations and marketing (or rather, lack thereof), the PS Vita surely has a bright future ahead. It’s safe to say Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified is going to bomb, but Ubisoft are said to be very happy with the initial sales of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, despite the console’s relatively small install base.
With PlayStation Plus persuading PS3 users to make the jump to Vita, PlayStation Mobile providing fun titles on the cheap, and upcoming releases catering to a wide range of gamers, I’m confident the next few months will see a much needed turnaround for the console. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but claiming the Vita is already dead really couldn’t be further from the truth.