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Sony Vita could be handheld’s last chance

Silhouette of man playing a handheld game

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.

Comments
Guest

I honestly think this will be the last dedicated gaming handheld generation. The landscape has changed, and when people can buy games that are good enough for their commute for under a pound, a £200 handheld plus £30 game is unappealing. The DS has failed to excite consumers, and with the launch of their analogue stick peripheral, they look like a company throwing stuff at the wall and praying it sticks. It’s over.

Guest

You clearly don’t play Call of Cuty! 🙂

Although I don’t agree that games are “good enough for commuters that are under a pound”, I do agree that handheld games consoles are on the way out. Personally after looking at my smart phone for a few minutes I start to go cross-eyed, the thought of watching a video or playing a game for any length of time gives me a headache.

I once played PSP half way to Vancouver and my shoulders, elbows and head were ruined. The problem with making everything portable is that you will give yourself back, eye, head, neck, shoulder and elbow problems if you play them too much.

One reason games consoles are so popular is comfort, because you sit on your sofa, with a fixed screen at a fixed distance from your eyes. This is why desktop computers are still popular, they are more comfortable to use than a tablet/laptop.

Guest

I like playing Call of Duty, but on consoles. There’s no way I’d want that experience to be portable. And I agree, I’ve played the PSP for extended periods of time, and it caused substantial strain on my neck. I think the fundamental issue is that most people don’t take long journeys on a regular basis, so the use basis of a dedicated portable console is limited. Most people take regular short journeys, yet the games on PSP were never designed for that. Games on smart phones are.

Guest

Fair point, I still think that they are worth the money for the games though. The production teams for ps3 and psp games are vast and normally expensive.

So I guess if that’s the format you like, and you take long journeys, go for it. Considering the strife that many blokes like myself get for playing too much COD, maybe a portable one would be a good idea. Multiplayer on a train just won’t work though will it? 🙂

Guest

How is the last chance for handheld? What’s the highest selling games console? The Nintendo ds… Which still happens to be selling well. It’s not gamers fault that the 3ds is a dud… 3d isn’t enough to sell a handheld. The PlayStation Vita (not Sony Vita) has a good chance of selling well for the simple fact that it’s a clear generation jump and the graphics far exceed any smartphone. And you can remote play some ps3 games on the original psp so that’s hardly surprising

Guest

3DS with Revelations best graphics on any handheld device Vita/Ipad/Iphone/ u name it MH4/MH3G/BRAVE DEFAULT/TEKKEN PRIME/NFS RUN ect are amazing not to mention MK7/SM3D Land/Luigis Mansion2 ect and huge Hardcore titles from Nintendo like Baten Kaidos ect and that Fire Emblem oh cant forget that Racing Brawler thats got the same gritty look as Motorstorm 3DS only costs £115/£150 Vita hasnt shown better graphics its not premium and its dead on arrival PERIOD.

Guest

I think not. You just have to look at Uncharted on the Vita to see its graphics are a generation leap in front of 3ds. 3ds has graphics like Wii, vita like ps3. Nintendo wad the one who had to put the price down just after release