The PlayStation Vita turned one only a couple of months ago, so it’s the perfect time to look back and see how Sony’s youngest child is doing in this tumultuous industry. Or could we just cut to the chase and admit: not so hot.
But whose fault is it? Sony, with its bizarrely overpriced proprietary memory cards, the developers whom seemingly shun the system or the way the game-journalists treat this new piece of kit? Let’s start with the last statement.
See, I’m a great fan of a huge selection of game related sites and blogs, but for the odd exception, each outing seems to scream ‘Vita sells like shit!‘ and ‘Vita got no games!‘ on a weekly basis, resonating these thoughts through the entire gaming scene and creating this snowball-like effect of negative news. While I personally can’t argue with the first statement, the second is the one that dumbstruck me the most.
Because, as I said above, the Vita is only one year old. One year people… and I already own 38 games for this system, of which I only consider Resistance: Burning Skies to be a real stinker (and I haven’t touched the illustrious Call of Duty with a ten-foot pole), and that one wasn’t all bad. This is not a shitty score for a fairly new console, not by far.
But – and this is a point I can’t argue about – among this pile of games there isn’t a single one I consider a must-buy, or a genuine system seller. The likes of Uncharted, WipeOut, Gravity Rush, Sound Shapes, DJ Max Technika Tune, Ragnarok, Need for Speed and LittleBigPlanet are way up on my list of favorite games, but from this lot only a couple of them are just a bit shy of perfection and thus not entitled to be a must-have.
With this in consideration I assume people shout that Vita has got no games because it currently lacks a real triple-A title, but when you look at the list above I have to say that this criticism doesn’t hold a lot of water. There is no system seller amongst its ranks, but there are great game experiences to be had. And with a great looking Soul Sacrifice and equally impressive Killzone on the horizon, who knows what the future holds in store for this small handheld.
But it is this future I’m also concerned about, with flocks of writers seemingly happy to write and kill off any platform that fails to flourish in its first months or so. It happened in a big way with the 3DS, a platform rightfully booming at the moment, again with Vita and seemingly about to happen with the Wii U — which is getting some pretty bad rep about lackluster sales and developers seemingly already abandoning the platform.
I’d like to say: what gives people? While I don’t expect that writers should hold hands and sing Kumbaya, it certainly wouldn’t hurt giving new consoles a bit more breathing room and to not blow their shortcomings out of proportion at the first sign of trouble. When you think about the fact that most consoles need a year – at least – to establish a good foothold in the industry, I say: give them some time.
With that in mind, I am well aware that it’s becoming an increasingly difficult industry to get a foothold in and the ‘big three’ are getting some stiff competition from other, newer parties like Android and Apple. And I am aware that development cycles are getting more and more precious, costing publishers huge chunks of money… so for them it gets increasingly difficult to support consoles dragged down by lackluster sales. There is no legroom anymore for mishaps, like atrociously expensive SD-cards or other shenanigans, so maybe it’s rightfully so for writers to assault a consoles weak points? All in all: poor sales equal poor support, which in term equals an untimely demise.
It’s really a self-fulfilling prophesy then, but there may be some hope yet. Sony lowered Vita’s price point in Japan already – raking up quite a lot of sales -, Indie developers seem to embrace Vita with the likes of Hotline: Miami, Thomas Was Alone and Lone Survivor and there are some interesting games coming this year. So it’s no game over for Vita, yet.
But hopefully it won’t become the next Dreamcast.
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