Hands on with the Sony PlayStation Vita
Touch me, play me
First Look It seems fair to state that for a while now Sony's PSP handheld games console has been experiencing something of long and undignified death. Even the Japanese technology giant itself saw fit to limit PSP software releases to largely redundant updates of its EyePet and Invizimals franchises – a move hardly likely to cause a flagging system to reignite.
In fact, the tribulations of PSP's entire lifetime are many and well documented. Take the decision to equip the system with its own unique UMD data storage medium, for example. Not only did it make the system heavy and require the user to lug around discs, but it also asked consumers to dash out and re-buy their favourite movies on yet another platform.
Add to that what was, with hindsight, an incredibly expensive initial price point, a dearth of truly high-class games and the botched release of PSP Go – Sony's attempted digital download-only version – and it's no wonder the platform hasn't met with the success of, say, Nintendo's DS.
Doubly vogue: the PSP Vita has a touchscreen on the front...
Yet perhaps most deadly of all was competition from not just the predictable sources – Nintendo's DS in the main – but also from rise of the mobile phone as a gaming device. Lump these together and the Sony portable platform has the makings of a rapidly sinking ship.
Sony's answer, rather than simply run home with tail tucked firmly between its legs, has been to return to the fray. The PS Vita is the company's latest portable console and it packs a good deal more power than the PSP. It also acknowledges the current touch craze with the adoption of not just a touchscreen on the front but also a touchpad on the back, plus two analogue sticks.
...and a touchpad on the back
Functions aside, the PS Vita boasts an impressive first wave of titles, with not just a new episode in the Resistance series but, even better, an all new adventure for developer Naughty Dogs' roof-jumper par excellence Nathan Drake in Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
Of course, this being Sony, announced pricing details mean that its fledgling console's success is perhaps just as precarious as that of PSP. The comparatively high price of £280 with 3G and £230 with Wi-Fi is only £40 more than an entry-level PS3 Slim.
No, really, you shouldn’t have.
Press to play
And if that wasn't bad enough, Sony then announced the requirement of yet another bespoke memory stick at $125 for 32GB, which almost certain to be around £100 given the generous price converters when it comes to gaming tech.
No, really, you shouldn’t have.
Next page: Lost weekend
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"A bespoke memory stick - meaning my existing Pro Duo is not supported?"
Aye, the PS Vita Card. Expected costs to be around 3x the cost of regular flash. Just as Sony were phasing out the Memory Stick from their camera ranges, they go and fire the shotgun into the other foot.
Where on earth did you get that price form? The console itself - even the high end 3G enabled version - is ony £270 pre-order on Amazon. So unless you're planning to buy every single game and accessory available at launch, I don't know where you're getting the extra 50% on the bill from.
WIFI Vita, basic memory card and one game - I suspect you'll be able to get for not more than £300. Still a fair lump of cash by anybody's margin, but let's be a little more realistic eh?
I get the point you're making, but
The thing is, although the business models are different, it doesn't mean that the statement "smartphone gaming will be the death of dedicated mobile gaming systems" is necessarily invalid.
For a dedicated game system to be successful, whether mobile or not, you generally need tens of millions of global unit sales, with strong software attach rates, and a life cycle of say 5-7 years.
If either the 3DS or the Vita do not achieve these goals, and if part of the reason they do not achieve these goals is due to competition (based on people actually buying games at whatever price) from smartphones, then yes, smartphone gaming has at least contributed to the death of mobile gaming systems.
FWIW I don't think there are enough gamers out there willing to fork out hundreds of pounds for a new system and multiple games that cost £30 and up anymore, now that you can get mobile gaming fixes from free and up on smartphones. That said I'll be getting one of these, just like I imported my PSP. How many of me are there?
Best use for a PSP
is as a SNES emulator.