The Sony Playstation Vita goes on sale in North America and Europe today, and gamers everywhere are wondering if the handheld system will be an enormous success – or a total flop.
Some are saying that the Vita can’t hold up in a market dominated by mobile devices. Everywhere you look, you see someone playing Angry Birds on a device that can also make calls, shoot video, check Facebook, stream music, and send texts.
I tend to agree with Barbara Ortutay, a technology writer for the Associate Press. Ortutay claims:
“Ultimately, if you consider yourself a gamer, you are going to find yourself migrating up the food chain to dedicated gaming consoles and the Vita.”
There is a clear distinction between people who only play mobile games, and core gamers. The Vita isn’t designed to target people who play Fruit Ninja, but don’t ever pick up a Playstation 3 controller.
There is also a clear distinction between a mobile device that plays games, and a portable gaming device. Sure, Apple is quickly becoming a dominant force in mobile gaming – but I would argue that mobile games qualify more as a casual pastime than a serious gaming experience. Words with Friends is fine, but try playing “Rayman Origins” or “Uncharted: Golden Abyss” on an iPhone.
Yet people everywhere are continuing to draw comparisons between the Vita and mobile gaming.
Gieson Cacho of the Contra Costa Times said in a recent article:
“With all the tech behind the system, the Vita is on the verge of becoming a phone and that’s where it should be. Instead of the Xperia Play aka the PlayStation Phone, Sony should be pushing the Vita as its all-in-one mobile device. It should be like the iPhone except more focused on games. Unfortunately, the system isn’t there — yet.”
This outlook is way off base. Yes, the Vita is implementing features that will appeal to people who are used to devices that accommodate social connectivity. However, if the Vita were designed to be a phone rather than a gaming device, it would have greatly reduced its gaming capabilities.
To be a phone, the Vita would have been more compact. That means no 5-inch OLED screen and no dual analog sticks. Button controls all together would have likely been eschewed for a keypad, or even exclusive touch control.
If the Vita had been designed to be a mobile device, we wouldn’t be seeing stellar graphics and blockbuster titles. Instead, Sony would have released another app-based phone, but without the extensive library of the Android or Apple devices.
Sony using the Vita to target preferential mobile gamers would be an exercise in futility. Imagine trying to get your grandmother that plays Bejeweled interested in playing Resistance. Most core gamers were already such, long before mobile gaming took hold.
These core gamers are the ones who will be buying the Vita – and they will be doing it on the merits of gaming capability, not call-making ability.
The Vita does have its flaws – but not being a phone isn’t one of them. Criticize the short battery life or the requirement for a proprietary memory card – just don’t approach criticism of the Vita from the perspective of smartphones.
This has been an opinion piece,
And everyone is entitled to my opinion.