Sony's Three-Pronged Plan To Save The Vita

Sony's Three-Pronged Plan To Save The Vita

It's no secret that the Vita is a flop. Sony's powerful handheld has failed to make much of a dent in this brave new world of iPhones and tablets and crushing candy on your daily subway ride to work.

The real shame is that the Vita is a great piece of hardware — Sony's just never been quite sure how to get people buying it. The whole "console gaming on the go" campaign didn't work out, and even a wave of indie hits like Spelunky and Guacamelee haven't been enough to get more Vitas in people's hands. It just doesn't have the killer software of its biggest competitor, the 3DS: there are no Animal Crossings or Zeldas or Marios here.

So what's Sony's next move? What does the Vita's future look like?

"I think there are three categories that we're actively going after," said Adam Boyes. Boyes, the man in charge of connecting Sony with outside developers and publishers, has a lot of say in which games go where. He's the one who struck a deal with Gearbox to get Borderlands 2 coming to Vita next year, and it's his job to make sure third-party games are getting on Sony systems.

I spoke to Boyes during the big PS4 launch event last week. We were talking about Sony's future, and I pointed out that their approach to the Vita seemed scattershot. As a Vita owner, I often feel like Sony doesn't know what they want to do with their system. Is it meant to compete with console games? Is it an indie machine? A source of cheap digital games à la the iPhone or iPad?

His response: Yes. All of the above. Starting with the PS4's Remote Play.

"Category one [of the three] is Remote Play experience — how does it extend the PS4 experience?" Boyes said. Remote Play is the service that syncs your Vita with your PS4, allowing you to play games like Knack and Killzone both on your big screen and on the portable device, not unlike Nintendo's Wii U GamePad.

"So you have this amazing sort of triple-A experience when you're in bed knocking out a couple scavenger missions in Assassin's Creed IV right before you go to bed. I think with Remote Play that I'm gonna be playing very little mobile games at home now within the house."

Category two: big, meaty games. Triple-A experiences the likes of which we haven't seen on the Vita in recent months, mostly because nobody's buying it. Big publishers like EA and Activision don't want to take risks on a system that won't make them all that much money. It's a catch-22: without big games, it's hard to sell systems, but without sold systems, it's hard to attract big games.

Boyes wants Remote Play to fix that problem.

"I do think that the Remote Play aspect of PS4 is gonna help the amount of Vitas that are out in the wild," Boyes said. "And then that will start informing more publishers to build that bigger, meatier content."

Category three: indies. "When I play Spelunky or when I play Hotline Miami on my Vita, I play differently than when I play on my PS3," Boyes said. "It feels like it's at home. And that's why I think you see a lot of focus on getting great content for the Vita. And we had a ton of announcements at Gamescom for great content like that on the Vita. So the reality is, we're trying to create a bunch of different content for a variety of gamers so they get satiated with a device on the go or within their house."

That's Sony's plan: three different ways to get people caring about the Vita again. Will the scattershot approach work, or do they need to be more focused if they want to stay relevant in the handheld business? STAY TUNED.


Comments

    I got one of these on launch day and still only own uncharted.

      PS+?

      I bought a Vita a few months ago when they dropped the price, purely because I had so many games from PS+ and PS3 cross-buy games that it didn't make sense any more to NOT buy one.

      I love the device and the games, although I don't really use it on my commute to work much (I prefer to read a book then), but I take it with me whenever I go away and also use it around the house.

        Likewise. I've got a lot of use out of it. And with PS+ it's been well worth the money.

        Same here. Haven't bought a single game but I've always had something to play. PS+ along with transferring some games like Metal Gear Solid that I bought to play on the PS3.

      Have you tried Gravity Rush? Fantastic little game

      I got lots of games from PS+ for free, and played the ones I enjoyed,

      Uncharted
      GravityRush

      Bought and played KillZone, but my favourite is Soul Sacrifice by a large margin. It's fantastic. Both multi-player and single-player.

      Last edited 20/11/13 8:23 pm

    How to create a successful console.

    Step 1: Good price.
    Step 2: Good games.
    Step 3: There is no step 3.

      Step 3 could probably be good marketing, as it's vital to success in sales.

      Good support for other features maybe?

        AMEN. like the panoramic veiw they added? chur. being able to look at photos while you game is on? even better. a notepad would be bloddy awesome.

      Jam it full of micro transactions and social media sharing, gamers love that kind of stuff.

        let me slap you. please?
        unless theres sarcasm, because i didn't really ocme across much of it, atleast nowhere near as much as android has.
        those ads work with one tpye of gamer: the casual gamer. not the "hardcore" that plays on a freaking console.

      That two step process sure worked for the Dreamcast...

        Dreamcast was basically left dead in the water by its own company. It wasn't properly supported out of the gate because they were worried about losing money on it, but by being shy about promoting it, they guaranteed that they would lose to Sony, who were 100% confident in their product.

        Sega needed to go all in. They bled themselves dry.

          Sega were already dead by the point they released it - killed by the Saturn's failure compounded with the Sega CD, 32X and all that.

          But my point was that if all you need is good games and a good price to succeed, Dreamcast would have done so as it had both.

            Good price, good games, a company that stands behind their product. The Dreamcast could've gone on to bigger and better things. Sega had one last ditch effort that they should've thrown everything behind. Instead, their lack of confidence in their product led to a lack of confidence in the marketplace.

            Sony doesn't have that problem. They are very confident in their product and the price would be good if not for the memory card price gouging madness. They just need to get that whole games thing sorted.

              amen brother, but im pasting this comment around the place for a reason - there are still some pretty epic games out there. Seriously! wikipedia it, theres a list that is about as long as the DS list. and without fine coming theres: p4g, jak, dragons crown, dragon (quest i think it is? theres a chinese verision out there with english text and jap audio, so its pretty playable) limbo, BRS, raganok odessey, rayman O, raman L, disega, dangan ronpa (didn't sell in the west much so i mention it), corpse party, diva F, little busters, reality fighters, mind zero ( a persona dungeon ripoff. woulda loved if they hadda made dungeons like p4), monster hunter, unit 13, timetravelers, and last but never least the minecraft port for vita.
              loads. sony kinda twisted their balls inside their undies this time cause theres games to play, hardware to play it with, but no sales.

    Best thing I've played on my Vita so far is Persona 4 Golden, followed closely by Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward. I know it's never going to be profitable, but I'd be pretty damn happy if they localized some visual novels from Japan.
    Also it feels like they need to focus on some big IP (especially first party stuff). I think every Vita owner has wanted a portable Infamous at some point or other. It would also have been handy if they managed to get the numbered installment in the Monster Hunter franchise, but I'm still looking forward to Frontier G.

      buddy. just say localised. understand me, and understand me well they have AT LEAST 10 wonderfull titles that have never seen a western mans beard because there hasnt been an english text patch. and if you do it legitly (by asking the company if you can make an english version) it'd take less than a week to change the image sprites and the text into english.
      and as for the ports..... nah buddy.i mean jak II? hells to the yes, but i dont want no crappy just above flash playing game made to ride of a ps4s sucess anywhere near my portable gold. its keeping its chastity, thank you very much.

    To be honest, I'm not sure what Sony can do here. They have some great exclusive titles. Price is reasonable given the internals.

    The propriety memory thing was a huge mistake of course, but I think the real problem is that they don't have Mario, Pokemon or Monster Hunter. Those games that offer a lot of content, but can be picked up and out down at will. Most of the Vita exclusives I've played just didn't work during my commute because of the amount of cut scenes.

      hahaha the irony. theres MHg on the vita i do beleive.

      and to correct your debate: they need to do research on their own console. buddy, search up wikipedia, and remove all the crappy ps3 ports you see. theres still a decent list there. oh and keep your psp games in that list ebcause they're majorly playable. thats a biiiiiiiiiig list of shit if you look close enough. and thus i shall staple my list of games actually in english that are already out for the vita.
      so theres p4g, jak, dragons crown, dragon (quest i think it is? theres a chinese verision out there with english text and jap audio, so its pretty playable) limbo, BRS, raganok odessey, rayman O, raman L, disega, dangan ronpa (didn't sell in the west much so i mention it), corpse party, diva F, little busters, reality fighters, mind zero ( a persona dungeon ripoff. woulda loved if they hadda made dungeons like p4), monster hunter, unit 13, timetravelers.

    Just got one pre-owned with Rayman Legends, bought Super Stardust and downloaded Uncharted and Gravity Rush for free, this is an awesome system not sure why it struggles. Probably because kids want a 3ds for the mario and the pokemon and the adults have iphones and ipads and dont wont another handheld. Hope it doesnt die completely its pretty cool system.

    Why not do a PS4/Vita bundle for a reasonable price? Bundle it up with Killzone Mercenary and Killzone Shadow Fall and Sony would probably get a much better attach rate.

    If you're going to sell the benefits of PS4 Remote Play this seems to be the most logical way of doing this.

      Dude, great idea. I don't own a Vita and would totally go for this.

      Yeah it's odd that they didn't have this at launch. Perhaps they wanted to avoid the high ticket price, people still talk about the PS3 being $1000 at launch.

    So you need to own a second console to make the first console worthwhile? Im sorry Sony, but that's BS. The 3DS doesn't require this. Want to make the console work? Get games on it, remove the requirement of those memory sticks and get them using micro sd instead, use the two touchscreens to create something new, and promote the damn thing.

      again, add that EFFING cable to your list. and in truth, what they need to do is make english versions of the LONG LONG list of jappy games we've been missing out on and bam, there you go. i mean it took me no time at all to find these:
      so theres p4g, jak, dragons crown, dragon (quest i think it is? theres a chinese verision out there with english text and jap audio, so its pretty playable) limbo, BRS, raganok odessey, rayman O, raman L, disega, dangan ronpa (didn't sell in the west much so i mention it), corpse party, diva F, little busters, reality fighters, mind zero ( a persona dungeon ripoff. woulda loved if they hadda made dungeons like p4), monster hunter, unit 13, timetravelers, and last but never least the minecraft port for vita.

    I'm actually considering buying one in the future and the remote play is the feature making me want one, especially if it uses your local wifi network because that means I could actually leave the lounge room unlike the WiiU gamepad which has a limited range (at least in my house).

    Plus with a PS+ account I could probably get away with not buying any games for the thing for a while. I've already pre "bought" a bunch of free vita games from PS+ in case they get taken off the store in the future.

    Last edited 20/11/13 9:06 am

      I've been doing this, 'saving' the PS+ games. When I got my Vita last week, my memory card was filled day 1 with a whole bunch of excellent titles that I didn't have to pay for (disregarding my PS+ subscription of course)

    If Sony EVER get a clue and move away from their proprietary bullshit (which judging by the PS4s ability to play music, they still struggle with) then I'd buy one in a second...but Sony getting a clue ... mmmm I think my money is pretty safe for the time being.

      sony are currently more 'open' than any other gaming company besides Ouya. The PS3 was one of the most open devices ever, replace the hdd, use 3rd party controllers, any bluetooth headset, played just about any format of movies (maybe not native MKV but only pirates use those), you could even run Linux on the ps3 until.... anyhoo Vita memory cards are one of the only proprietary items left... and that's because of pirates (lol)

        I agree on the moves in the right direction on the PS3, but now looking at where they are going with the PS4 it appears they are headed back into their cave.

        I've been a day-one PS adopted since the beginning, but now I'm waiting to see what Steam is bringing and I'm in no rush to get back on the Sony wagon...they lost me with the continual regional gouging...

          wait.. Steam doesnt? *sigh*

            Will wait and see, they aren't as bad as Sorny ... BF4, Premium, PS+ they don't have to match other regions, just make an effort!

    the memory cards are way too expensive.

      aha theres a real complaint for a change. remember to add to that that finding a cable for the bloddy peice of crap for the first gen is near on impossible. mate lost my cable about 8 months ago. i got my cable yesterday.

    Well I just got a 3G wifi one brand new with killzone and a 32 gig card for $260. With the dozen or so games I got off ps+ and the ones coming down the pipe in the future I can't see myself having to buy many games. So if most PS4 owners are going to have ps+ anyway think of it like a DS that you never have to BUY games for. When I had my gameboy back in the day I spent hundreds of dollars on games.
    Just worked it out. Free games I got off ps+ would cost me close to what I just paid for the system to buy retail. So, the system just paid for itself as far as I am concerned. Obviously the longer you are a ps+ member the better it becomes.

    I'm hoping someone else could shed light on this remote play thing with how it appeals to them:

    I don't have any interest whatsoever in the idea; If I'm at home, I want to play the title on the biggest screen I have, for the best experience. The only time I'd want to use the vita or small screen is if I'm on the train or somewhere when I don't have access to my own console, which by coincidence means no access to the screen either. The whole remote play idea is lost on me.

    Then there's the argument that someone else might be using my TV; this is why we have a cheap, smaller screen at home (I know that not everyone can do this, so yeah I get that point). But even then, that convenience doesn't equate to the amount of hype Sony is feeding us with re: remote play.

    “So you have this amazing sort of triple-A experience...."

    SORT OF Triple A? is that enough of a trade off for people to avoid walking a few metres to your TV?

    This concept could be argued for and against all day. The only thing that stops me from buying vita games is the number of decent titles that exist; not many.

      I'm actually pretty interested in Remote Play. I have a 40" LED TV to myself in my room, and the PS4 will be living in there with me - but call me crazy, sometimes I just want to lay back in bed with a handheld. I can't explain it any other way. On the rare occasion my housemate might be using my TV, I can use it then too, in just the same way as the gamepad on the WiiU - which was also a brilliant idea.

      It may not be for you, or for many people - but for me it's a welcome feature I know I'll be using at least semi-regularly.

      EDIT: I loved the idea when they implemented it with PSP/PS3 - but thanks to 802.11b on the PSP, and limited support on what could be used over remote play, it was pretty substandard. This is what it should have been originally.

      Last edited 20/11/13 10:22 am

        I can appreciate the personal preference here. My curiosity lies with how many people, as a percentage of Vita owners have this reason as motivation for owning one, and also how many gamers overall would buy a vita for this reason.

        If this approach to saving the platform takes precedence over Sony actually pushing for third party support as well as internal development then it takes away my reason for playing it. Just me?

          Possibly. Again, depends on whether Remote Play is useful to you, and whether or not you interpret it as an attempt to 'save' the Vita. To me it seems a much overdue and honestly logical functionality for the brand and their devices to have. Unification and cross platform integration has long been the goal for many brands on many different fronts.

          If people are buying a Vita because of it, then it's either useful to them, or they're getting on the hype-train. Not really different to any other release in gaming, if you think about it.

      im not much of a picky guy when it comes to screens, if it has one, then lets go.. a reason i love the oculus. but i getch when it comes to titles designed for a big screen, its all kinda useless on that mini 4 inch wonder. so i 100% agree. remote play has jack didly shit on the front lines of the sales ideas for buying a vita. its useless.

      on the other hand tho, you obviously dont look at two things - a) games that arent in english (that eventualy get ports from my experience) and b) well i dunno tbh, i found about 20 titles buddy, whats in your shorts. although it would help greatly if ps were a bit nicer on its firmware updates that seem to be specifically designed todestroy cfw.

      but theres plenty out there (although i will mention ports, only if they have new feature however) so theres p4g, jak, dragons crown, dragon (quest i think it is? theres a chinese verision out there with english text and jap audio, so its pretty playable) limbo, BRS, raganok odessey, rayman O, raman L, disega, dangan ronpa (didn't sell in the west much so i mention it), corpse party, diva F, little busters, reality fighters, mind zero ( a persona dungeon ripoff. woulda loved if they hadda made dungeons like p4), monster hunter, unit 13, timetravelers, and last but never least the minecraft port for vita. and buddy, thats more games than i ever legitly owned on my psp. sorry but that card has been played too long and ofc japan is the one to carefully shove it up yours.

    The Vita is amazingly underrated. This shouldn't need saving, but unfortunately....... it does.

    I love the Vita and think it's compatibility with the PS4 will be great in future.

    Give them away with ps4's that's the only way they can get them to sell

    I don't own any current Sony consoles but everytime I see this trotted out it reminds me of the Gameboy Transfer Pak or how you could a GBA to a GameCube - nobody used those features, he'll I don't even remember anyone having the multiplayer cables for a Gameboy! So many MP modes on GB games were a waste of effort, just having a cool feature is one thing - but the expense and effort you need to go to ($549 + 250) to get set up is a massive barrier to their success.

    Vita doesn't need saving bro.

    http://www.atlus.com/conception2/index.html

    Already saved :p

    Last edited 20/11/13 11:59 am

    How about, instead of transferring the game from the big screen to the small screen, use the small screen to augment what's on the big screen. We're talking about a Wii U remote here. MGS5? Use the Vita to plot your next path, or use it like a spy device (hold it up to your ear in order to hear the enemy talking) or something. MGS was great for this lateral thinking, because in order to beat Psycho Mantis, you had to plug the controller into port 2 (meaning he was trying to read the left side of your "brain", but forgetting about the right)

    Just bought a Vita on the weekend. PS+ has 5 games on there straight out of the box, and they all seem pretty good too. Happy with the console so far.

    I bought a Vita in April this year, when EB Games had it on sale for $200. Ever since then, it's been my go-to device for gaming. My PS3 has been languishing, and my Steam account hasn't seen much activity. I blame it on PS+. Just when you've finished one game, it's replaced by two more.

    I picked up my Vita during the 50% off sale at Big W and I really like it. It's a great piece of hardware with some great games, it's biggest flaw is that it's memory cards are so tiny and expensive!

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