PlayStation+ Is Killing the Vita


PlayStation Plus is one of the best deals in the history of gaming. For less than the price of one game a year, you get dozens and dozens of (pretty) new games, to be played as long as you continue to have a subscription. “$50 for games I already have?!” Yeah, some of ’em. But compare this to the Xbox 360’s $60/year just to play games online, with random weekly deals that – comparatively – are not even in the same league as those offered by Sony.

It’s funny… first they did Achievements better with their Trophy system, and now they one-up Microsoft in the paid subscription realm. Now if they could just keep their servers up more! Oh, and security. I guess. But PS+!

Is it too much of a good thing? The Vita is… lacking. Everywhere – hardware sold, the number of new game releases, sales of new game releases… even review scores. Did you know there is only ONE Vita game with a MetaCritic average over 90? Check it out. PlayStation Plus for those with a Vita, however? BAM. Uncharted. Wipeout. Retro City Rampage. Jet Set Radio. Plants Vs. Zombies. Gravity Rush. Ninja Gaiden. All free. And only for PS+ members.

So then you buy Persona 4, and what else is there? I guess Zero Escape. Maybe Escape Plan? Any other games with “Escape” in the title? And a bunch of other experiences you’ve already had on your PS3. Sony is trying to tantalize us into getting their (admittedly awesome) hardware by giving away the best software for free. I’ve bought ONE Vita game in the months since Christmas, and my $90 32 GB memory card (still way too expensive) is over half full of free stuff. (I say free, but it’s really because the $50/year gets so much on my PS3 that the Vita games are just extra gravy on my mashed potatoes.)

The problem: when all the good games are free, I don’t need or want to buy the bad games for money. I’m not supporting the Vita, I’m just subscribed to a free game service (which, incidentally, I received as a present) that gives me all the games I could ever need. Maybe if there were more options, things would be different. New games come out on the PS3 every week, even in this seventh year of the console’s life cycle, so giving one or two older ones away (sometimes not even that much older) for free is no big deal. But the Vita has less than… 90(?) games released in the U.S. And only 18 of those have review averages of 80 or above (the “Must Buy” cutoff for most). Not a lot of worthwhile options. And if you only like one or two genres? Good luck, buddy.

But who knows? I don’t have exact numbers on how many PS+ subscribers there are. I can’t imagine it makes more money than it costs Sony, however. No way. The deals are just too great and there’s too many of them. And what about the games’ developers? What’s their cut of the $4.17/month spread across 20 games? Here’s a hint. It’s 20 cents. And that’s if Sony keeps nothing for themselves.

So what’s the answer? Well, Sony can keep giving us awesome deals and letting us try games we wouldn’t otherwise normally try for next to nothing. Or they can stop. Or – what I hope and dream happens – they can keep up with the awesome PS+ offerings but also start cranking out a lot more new, full Vita games. So even though we’re getting the PS+ games, we’ll all still be paying full price for unique, interesting experiences that we can’t get anywhere else. Or at least, not on the go.

But Sony seems to have all but abandoned the Vita. They say the cupboard isn’t empty… but, come on, guys. Announce something. Anything. Give us even a glimmer of hope. And then give us more free games as long as we stay subscribed to your service, which, once the PS4 comes out at the end of this year, could morph into something completely unrecognizable and – possibly – useless.

But we’re here for now. Feed me more, and keep giving me a million reasons not to buy any Vita games. It doesn’t fare well, however, when you look at the release schedule: Dead or Alive 5+ this month, then Soul Sacrifice next month. That’s it. Meanwhile, Tekken 6 and Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention are free on Vita (okay okay, so technically Tekken is the PSP version). That’s pretty cool. Too bad they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Why pay $40 for DoA when Tekken is free?

… Why pay for ANY games when the good ones are free?


Filed under Editorial

5 responses to “PlayStation+ Is Killing the Vita

  1. arron

    I think the Vita is dead in the water myself. It never really took off to stellar sales when compared to other mobile platforms like tablets and phones. It’s been out just over a year and reception has been lukewarm at best. The market moved on, and Sony failed to realise it, or take the right business decisions that would have have rescued the Vita from the joke it seems to have become.

    I think that one of the issues is from reviews that I’ve seen of it is games from it’s on-line market are stupidly expensive compared to going out and buying the games on physical media. This one by Ashens seemed to sum up what I’d been hearing about it in the UK.

    It’s the chicken and the egg – people won’t buy the system unless there are a lot of games on that system worth playing..developers won’t get involved developing for your system unless there are enough systems out there to make the investment in building games worthwhile. And the reason that people are not buying a Vita is because the hardware in tablets and phones is as good as Vita for playing games. The games are cheaper. Developing on it is pretty easy. About the only advantage the Vita has over most devices is hardware controls..but if you’re into gaming, there are plenty of third party Bluetooth/wi-fi add-ons that can add that functionality.

    One example is the iCade. It’s a stand and control set-up that makes your iPad feel like it’s part of a proper arcade cabinet. It’s easy to program and support in most products and it add a solid arcade experience if you don’t like touch pad controls. If you want something that will slip into a pocket, then the 8bitty controller will give you a Nintendo experience that can be used with a phone or tablet at low cost.

    Another mistake that Sony made was not opening up the system to the Indie Market which has made Apple (and to a lesser extent the XBox) a much wider gaming experience. There are no shortage of people who will pay a developer fee to develop for your system if you release some OK tools or better still allow support through something like Unity that will enable easy cross platform development. I think that Sony really shot themselves in the foot over that as it could have ensured dozens of new releases every week and a steady stream of revenue from user purchases. It’s what people want from a device now. It’s not the 80s/90s where people are restricted to buying plug in things or CDs to push in their machines. They want a range of either quality gaming experiences or a quick cheap blast on something they can pick up and play. And I think Sony missed it.

    • This is probably the most thorough, thoughtful comment on my blog. You should write about games too! 😀

      • arron

        I’ve been doing a lot of writing recently. Did 11 pages of my PhD thesis today. To be honest, I’d probably be better off writing games than whining about them as I did it’s a lot more productive to create something new rather than critique something broken..!

    • I have the opposite experience with the pricing, buying the physical games seems insane as they’re both more expansive and take up a lot more space if you want to use the machine outside of your own house.

  2. BG

    I will stick to hardware for the resale stand point. I do see the point though!

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