In Defense of the Vita

Sep 3, 2012

At Gamesom 2012, Sony unleashed an E3-like performance. Front and center was the PS Vita. A device promoted for it’s technical prowess, but mocked for it’s steep price. Having experienced slow sales and an underwhelming library, Sony’s back was seemingly against a wall. E3 should have been a no-brainer for Sony: show us new Vita games, announce the expansion of PlayStation Plus to the Vita, and prove the PS3 still has life in it. Sony accomplished the latter but fans walked away thinking the Vita had one foot in the grave. Then came Gamescom last week. New games and new services – it was all about the Vita.

Now, with the release of firmware 1.80, Vita owners have a reason to proudly play their spendy handheld in public. Select PS One games have been unlocked, PS Plus is coming to Vita, and a flurry of new and notable titles are months away. Make no mistake, this is still a handheld for early adopters. Even with its massive back catalog of PS One and PSP games, Vita is not yet ready for the big leagues. What’s missing from this equation is games. In fact, one killer game. Vita needs its Halo, and while there are contenders coming, that one title has not yet driven sales, and when it does Sony will ensure we all know it. Until that happens, we are watching the birth and growth of what will become the most flexible and powerful portable gaming device for years to come.

When a child takes his first steps, it opens his mind to new possibilities. Curiosity and a thirst for new experiences drive the child to explore, touch, taste, and sometimes break objects in the world around him. Vita has taken its first steps with firmware 1.80. We should expect to see a faster rate of growth as the system matures. More titles, more functions, more developer support, all leading to more sales. As gamers we should all root Sony on as we don’t want cell phone games to gobble up the market. Most mobile games are falsely rewarded for accomplishing little simply because they are on phones. We want console-level experiences on our handhelds. We want to continue playing our console games when we leave home. Vita is the portal that will take us there. Give it some time and soon we’ll all see what Sony has bet on.