This week’s Tokyo Game Show saw more details released about the Vita, Sony’s latest handheld console. It seems impressive, but after Nintendo 3DS’s rocky start, is the market ready for another handheld?
It goes without saying that gaming on the go has changed. In this day and age anyone carrying around a smartphone has access to thousands of cheap games, which are more than capable of competing with those on dedicated gaming devices.
It’s a common sight to see commuters plugging away at Angry Birds, and paying 69p for an app is a lot more appealing to some than paying £30+ for a boxed game.
So what can the Vita offer that smart phones or the Nintendo 3DS can’t?
Why buy Vita?
Firstly, there’s no denying the fact that the Vita is an impressive piece of kit. It’s large OLED screen and dual analogue controls make it a very appealing gaming device, more so than the touch screen of an iPhone.
Demonstrations at the Tokyo Game Show also hinted at the prospect of remote play, allowing Playstation 3 owners to play their games on the Vita itself, over Wi-fi. This could potentially mean that for the first time, Vita owners could play their Playstation 3 games away from home, providing they had Wi-fi access.
Then there’s the launch line-up. Big titles like Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet and Wipeout are all represented, making for a stronger library at launch than the 3DS had.
Will casual gamers care?
Concessions have been made to the so-called ‘casual’ gamer, with an app store and small downloadable titles, but it’s hard to imagine this crowd buying the device when their smart phone is a perfectly adequate substitute for their needs.
The £230 asking price means that the Vita will probably only appeal to fans of the Playstation brand and gadget enthusiasts, and it’s unlikely to replace anyone’s smart phone. Yes, there will be a dedicated market for it, but a much reduced one to the PSP’s market six years ago.
This new handheld generation will be an important one for both Sony and Nintendo, as the success of the Vita and 3DS will decide the fate of the standalone game’s handheld.