Geek Guide: PS, I don’t love you

Published: February 25, 2012

The latest version of Sony’s gaming hardware is one powerful, albeit flawed, piece of mobile gaming hardware.

The latest gaming sensation, PlayStation Vita, already launched in Japan in December of 2011, is now going to be released in the rest of the world. The successor to Sony Computer Entertainment’s PlayStation Portable (PSP), this version is one powerful, albeit flawed, piece of mobile gaming hardware.

Coming in editions that feature 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, this device is expected to hit shops in Pakistan soon, with a price for the Wi-Fi model expected at Rs26,000 initially.

Powered by a 4-core ARM processor, and 512MB of RAM, the Vita is capable of producing visuals that rival even those produced by its console cousin, the PlayStation 3 —an awesome feat for a hand held device. It displays these visuals on an absolutely gorgeous, 5-inch OLED multi-touch capacitive touch screen, which sports a resolution of 960×540, trumping any hand-held gaming device in comparison, and even standing tall against the latest smart phones from Apple and Samsung.

For input, aside from the fairly responsive touchscreen, the device also carries a rear touchpad, motion sensing, electronic compass, a D-pad and twelve buttons. The device also holds rear and front-end cameras, though the output of these is merely serviceable, and more suited to internet chat applications.

The launch titles with the Vita include new iterations of old favourites, like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Rayman Origins, Fifa Soccer, and Hot Shots Golf. While the reviews for these games are not stellar, with major software developers having committed to this new handheld platform, buyers of the Vita can safely expect countless more quality titles to be in the pipeline. Furthermore, with the device being fully backwards compatible with digitally released PSP titles, the Vita has a decent library of games to choose from at the launch.

In short, in terms of hardware and games, this new handheld is a monster — a beast for your hands. Yet, sales figures have been disappointing in Japan. While reviewers have been blown away by its core aspects, they remain cautious about the device’s sales potential.

Analysts suggest that part of the reason that the Vita sold slowly in Japan was because it had launched not long after its competitor from Nintendo, the 3DS. But, the fact is that the 3DS itself sold disappointingly, until it readdressed its price point. In actuality, the market of the mobile gaming landscape has also changed considerably.

Smartphones, which act as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ device like the Samsung Galaxy, and the iPhone, allow busy techies to perform a variety of functions with a single device, including taking pictures and playing games. Granted that games offered on such devices pale in comparison to dedicated gaming handhelds like the 3DS and the PlayStation Vita, but it is the question of performance versus convenience. And it is simply inconvenient to carry a handheld game console along with a mobile phone, when functions for the hand held can be serviceably performed on a mobile phone. This is especially true when the particular gaming device in question is priced as expensively as it is.

If Sony wants the Vita to truly become a competitor, then it needs to get a grip on reality. Not only is the cost of the Vita system high, but its games are expensive as well, with premium titles being sold at $50. Furthermore, the device isn’t compatible with regular memory cards, requiring purchase of proprietary ones, with the 32GB card selling at $100. Where the device is also disappointing, is on the software end.

With the mobile gaming market having been cornered by tablets and smartphones featuring a multitude of applications, and silky smooth user interfaces, the Vita’s User Interface (UI) feels unintuitive and archaic by comparison. With long loading times, not only is the Vita UI frustratingly sluggish by modern standards, its library of apps comes across as fairly thin.

Expect price drops on the Vita system, games, and memory cards to come quickly, like they came with the 3DS, once Sony has sold as much as it can to early adopters. While the device does has plenty of potential to shine, our advice for those interested, is to adopt a wait-and-see approach.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2012.

Reader Comments (17)

  • Steve Mark
    Feb 25, 2012 - 11:06AM

    Why are you bitching about the price? the price was very reasonable, considering how many features it has! And how is there long load times? wanna see long load times? Get a 360! The only thing that is bad about the system is the memory card, which you wrote about in this article. In your opinion, you don’t like it. In my opinion this article stinks and you should be fired!

    Recommend

  • Steve Mark
    Feb 25, 2012 - 12:52PM

    Price is everything. No one wants a 400+ console . It needs to drop in price.Recommend

  • Aaron
    Feb 25, 2012 - 1:12PM

    the headline should be “PS, I can’t afford you”

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  • DevilHunterX
    Feb 25, 2012 - 2:52PM

    @Aaron:
    You win an internet.

    Recommend

  • Ammar
    Feb 25, 2012 - 2:58PM

    As a review, this article is a fail on account of not even mentioning the dual analog sticks. Secondly, it’s FAR high spec-ed than the 3DS, which totally makes up for it’s price of $250 (not 400+, mind it). PS (no pun intended) one can’t expect a price cut to come anytime soon. Thirdly, let PSVita take a breath, before getting on about how it has a small library of apps.

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  • Steve Mark
    Feb 25, 2012 - 11:41PM

    @Steve Mark:
    Ok I don’t understand Why you put the same name as me, but anyways. Idk where you’re getting 400 from this, cuz I can buy mine for 250

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  • Reader
    Feb 26, 2012 - 3:18AM

    @Ammar:

    Suggest you read the article mate.

    “Furthermore, with the device being fully backwards compatible with digitally released PSP titles, the Vita has a decent library of games to choose from at the launch.”

    Says decent, not small. :)

    Recommend

  • Reader
    Feb 26, 2012 - 3:19AM

    @Steve Mark:

    $250 for the hardware. $100 for the memory stick. $50 for one game.

    That’s $400. The article says the device has ‘potential to shine’.

    Recommend

  • Steve Mark
    Feb 26, 2012 - 9:39AM

    @Reader:
    Doesn’t mean you need to make it sound like its’ a huge price. Did the you see the 3DS? Same price, and way less features. and worse games.

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  • anonymous
    Feb 26, 2012 - 9:50AM

    i personally cant wait for the vita backwards compatibility on ps3 & psp FTW!Recommend

  • Long loading
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:03PM

    @Steve Mark:

    I think you are ill informed. 3DS is at $170.

    http://www.nintendo.com/whatsnew/detail/fttgI7OsQIB1tZqRMa5CtT45KLrmNkAY

    Games are arguably more unique. It is Nintendo.

    Recommend

  • Jeep11
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:57PM

    “Why are you bitching about the price? the price was very reasonable, considering how many features it has! “

    I think this is summed up pretty well later in the article:

    “While reviewers have been blown away by its core aspects, they remain cautious about the device’s sales potential.”

    The features sound great, but consumers haven’t been biting so far and a lot of that seems to be price. Low sales numbers mean that informed buyers are hesitant of purchasing, partially because of the possibility of a future price drop and partially because low market share means fewer publishers willing to take risks by releasing games. The hardware is great, but expensive – as are the games and memory. That’s dangerous when not only competing with a sure thing in the portable market like a Nintendo release, but also iOS and Android.

    Recommend

  • MisterED
    Feb 27, 2012 - 12:15PM

    @Steve Mark You’re waaaay to touchy, kid. This article is actually well balanced and is not in any way overly negative towards the Vita at all. You need to wear some grown up pants and learn to not take things so personally. Try to calm down, ok? No need to make such a fool of yourself.

    @Long loading That’s the suggested price of the 3DS. However, retailers are selling it cheaper these days. Going for $149.99-$159.99 at many retail stores.

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  • Sonu
    Feb 28, 2012 - 4:39AM

    From where I can get it for 26k ?

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  • Steve Mark
    Feb 28, 2012 - 6:42AM

    Haha. I laugh at your misery :)

    Recommend

  • Ammar
    Feb 29, 2012 - 11:07AM

    @Reader:
    I said apps, not games. Huge difference bro.

    Recommend

  • DevilHunterX
    Feb 29, 2012 - 1:32PM

    @Long loading:
    Sure, unique games like the billionth Super Mario, Zelda and Pokemon.

    Recommend

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