Is PlayStation Vita Nothing More Than a Fancy Emulator?

Can the handheld become something more?

Despite having a robust and varied library of games available for it, the PlayStation Vita risks being nothing more than an expensive emulator for games already available elsewhere.

Every week, following the PlayStation Network update, I scan over the new additions to the Vita’s store – provided there are any – and while some exclusive games may pop up here and there, by and large I often see games that are either new additions to the PSOne roster or cross-buy PlayStation 3 titles.

Okay, so before I go further I’ll come out and say I’m actually a huge supporter of the PlayStation Vita. I like the system and I like the games that are available on it. And I see where Sony’s coming from wanting to present it to gamers as a PlayStation 3/4 on the go.

The only thing is, most of us don’t want that. And the sooner Sony change direction the better off the Vita will be.

Why give us the option of playing a game I can play just as well by booting up my PlayStation 3? Sure, there’s cross-save, and cross-buy and cross-everything else, but where’s the original content?

Admittedly original content does exist, though sadly not at retail where it needs to be. Games like Escape Plan, Mutant Blobs Attack! and several other key digital only titles are fantastic and fun games that should be seeing units fly off the shelves. Escape Plan alone highlights many of the Vita’s unique hardware strengths, though unless you shell out for the high price point no one’s going to know.

psv-escape-plan-ss4

The games that are present on retails shelves are Uncharted, Resistance, PlayStation All-Stars and Call of Duty, all games that are available on PlayStation 3. To an average consumer they’re going to compare the two and say “No, I’m not going to pay hundreds of dollars just to play Call of Duty on a handheld,”.

Before anyone points it out, yes I’m aware of the parallels many will draw with the Wii U and its handful of multiplatform ports of Mass Effect 3, Darksiders II and others. However that’s another article for another time.

At the end of the day it all boils down to how Sony approach the Vita, and I have to say I’m not really liking the direction they’re taking. From day one the company have essentially beaten the ‘PlayStation 3 on the go’ drum, and with the PlayStation 4 and the planned streaming connectivity feature this is only going to be ramped up.

And that’s all good and fine, but it doesn’t need to be the selling point of the Vita. After all, gamers are for the most are a fairly switched on bunch. We’re going to be able to conclude ourselves that we can play game X or Y on both our PlayStation 3/4 and Vita. The general consumer though, probably won’t really care.

Digital sales of games are increasing, reflecting our desire to have access to any new entertainment content almost instantly. The PlayStation Vita, for my money, has an incredibly strong line up of exclusive digital only games. If Sony can spend a little more money promoting what’s there, instead of painting the Vita as a type of emulator then we may see it perform a little better in the market.

Or at the very least, people stop dragging the system down for being a portable PlayStation 3.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/brad.long.1238 Brad Long

    Uncharted on the Vita was a new title, but would have better served on the PS3. My problem is that there are too many console-y games on the Vita, and people want pick up and play, something the Vita lacks in comparison to the 3DS.

    • brianc6234

      Sony should ask for a real Bejeweled game for the Vita. That would be a good choice. I have the PSP version on mine but I want one that uses the touch screen. But I have more good games on my Vita than I have time to play them so I have no problem. A lot of them were free on PS Plus. Or really cheap.

  • Martin Brentnall

    I don’t really mind whether the games are original or not, as long as they’re worth playing.

    I get what you’re saying, but the whole point of a portable system in my view is to enable gaming when a home console isn’t an option (i.e. away from home), so arguing that gamers can simply boot up their PS3 to play the same games doesn’t fly with me when you’re talking about the Vita.

    For example, I could’ve played Final Fantasy VII on my PS3, but I played the game almost exclusively during my daily commutes, which wouldn’t have been possible without my Vita.

    Currently I’m playing Persona 4: Golden, which is almost worth owning a Vita for on it’s own!

    • http://www.facebook.com/brad.long.1238 Brad Long

      I play PSOne classics on my Vita too, and they feel portable, too. Personally I think a lot of PS3 games on the Vita should have stayed on the PS3, it’s too much going on for such a small screen and it’s harder to appreciate the effort that went into the game.

    • Jayden Williams

      Yes, that is the point to handhelds but we shouldn’t be made to feel like the Vita is merely a portable substitute to the PS3 when we’re not home.

      A handheld should be defined by its own unique experiences, not constantly playing a second – portable – fiddle to its console counterpart.

      Nintendo are undeniably the masters of portable gaming, and so we only need to look at how they treat the Wii U and 3DS as individual products and not two sides of the same coin. They may want to play the two off one another, just like Capcom did with MH3U, or how Nintendo themselves plan to with the next Smash Bros., but the point is consumers KNOW both are their own.

      But really, my whole point was actually from a more average consumer perspective. Like it or not, but the general consumer who doesn’t bother reading or commenting on gaming websites usually have the most sway when it comes to retail performance. If they’re confused, well….

      People like you and I who call ourselves gamers know there’s more to Vita than just giving us Call of Duty on the go, or whatever, or allows you to play a 15+ year old game on the train.

      And for the record, PS4G is downright amazing. Represent!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002832123156 Davvid Dulce Corazón

    Perhaps the price of the Vita is also a factor?? Japan seem to have proven that a slightly lower price can make a large difference in sales very quickly!

    Contents may be pretty slow in release, but I think the majority of the “stronger” contents are full of quality gameplay, though it may not be for ‘everyone’.

    If nostalgic games are what Sony believes is driving their portable console (ie. PSOne Classics such as Final Fantasy, older Resident Evil, etc), then perhaps they need some original and exclusive AAA+ titles from past developers who made us love what Sony offered?!

    At least I know the Vita has a future with the PS4 and won’t be abandoned. :)

  • Keelan Finn

    I like the way u can play on the go but i would like a different story not the same game just on vita

  • plsburydoughboy

    Interesting that you thought people were going to compare it to the Wii U, which I don’t see at all. Rather, Vita stands in stark contrast to the 3DS, which has carved out an identity for itself as a platform for unique experiences. People were talking smack about Nubaggedon, and how 3D was a failed gimmick, and how Vita’s two analog sticks made it the superior platform for games, but ultimately, it was the Vita that was found lacking, and it certainly wasn’t because of hardware limitations.

  • Anthony Brinklow

    They aren’t using the strategy you talk about in the slightest – they are positioning the Vita as the premier place to play the top indie titles. I hope you didn’t get paid for this article.

  • http://aussie-gamer.com/ Tynan Muddle

    Seems to me that most Vita games come with the marketing tag line “it’s the PS3 game, but on VITA!”. Vita just needs its own identity.