With only a few short months before the Playstation Vita emerges onto the Japanese gaming market, Mini Gamers examines the recent spate of news articles concerning Sony's new handheld device, and asks whether the PS Vita is gearing up to be an international success or whether it will all turn out to be a bit of a disappointment...
The PS Vita (then known only as the 'Sony NGP') was announced on the 27th of January this year after months of speculation about its existence.
Amongst other things revealed about the new console, were its hardware specifications, including an enhanced graphics card, front and rear cameras, a rear touch pad and OLED touchscreen, and dual analog sticks, making it one of the most technological handhelds that Sony has ever produced.
However, Sony then surprised gamers by announcing that the console would be relatively low-priced despite its technological advances, with the 3G wireless version priced around £219, whilst the non-3G version was expected to cost around £187.
More good news came recently. Sony announced that the console would not be region-locked, unlike its main competitor, the Nintendo 3DS, meaning that gamers could purchase PS Vita software cheaply by obtaining it from other countries, including America.
Sony also recently announced that it would be offering previous PSP owners an opportunity for 'cheap downloads' of their previous UMD games onto the new console. According to gaming website, Siliconera, Sony plans to offer gamers downloadable PSP titles at a 'special price' when the console launches in Japan.
However, it is yet unclear what form this price reduction might take, or whether similar offers will be available next year when the console launches in North America and Europe.
Sony have also provided details of the various launch dates for the PS Vita console release, which have now been confirmed as:
December 17th 2011
February 22nd 2012
Worldwide release including Australia, America and Europe.
This means that although Japan will get the Vita in time for Christmas, it won't be too long before the rest of us get to experience this nifty little console for ourselves.
Sony's recent announcements about PS Vita Memory Stick prices came as a shock to many gamers as the lowest prices were almost triple the price of most memory sticks and a lot higher than those memory sticks used in the older PSPs. Nothing really to suit poorer budgets. Details of the PS Vita memory sticks can be found by clicking HERE.
Sony have announced that they will cease production of UMD games for the new console, opting instead for a new game-cartridge system, which they have called NVGs. However, this means that the console will also be incompatible with older PSP games as it will no longer feature a UMD slot.
This means that PSP owners will be forced to either keep their existing PSP consoles as well as buying the new PS Vita in order to continue using the original games, or they will be forced to sell their existing software and then purchase a downloadable version for the PS Vita. Either way, this seems to be quite an off-putting factor for older PSP fans.
Furthermore, Sony have recently announced that downloads on the 3G model of the PS Vita will now be limited to a disapointing 20MB during the console's initial launch, but Sony has stated that this may vary in the future.
PS VITA: IS THE FUTURE LOOKING 'UGLY'?
It is yet unclear how the PS Vita will perform in the weeks and months after its release in both Japan or the rest of Europe. The console is vastly superior to the PSP or PSP Go, and, despite one or two minor bad points, the PS Vita does have plenty of appealing features.
Nevertheless, the PS Vita has come under heavy-fire from critics who say that Sony are simply trying to rival the Nintendo 3DS, which, despite its obvious gaming advances is still struggling to make a good impression in the overall gaming market. Does this mean that the PS Vita is doomed to fail?
According to SCEJ President, Hiroshi Kawano, he does not see 3D smartphones or the Nintendo 3DS as a threat to the success of the PS Vita.
Speaking at the Tokyo Game Show 2011, Kawano claimed the two consoles were radically different, not only in their price and performance, but also in the fact that the PS Vita will contain many more elements aimed at 'Social Gaming', which has become very popular over the past few years.
Furthermore, Kawano claims that 3D smartphones only have gaming as a bonus, rather than as their main focus and therefore, he does not believe that this will be a major competitor for the PS Vita console.
Kawano said: "Gaming is not the main focus of smartphones but merely just a bonus. The PS Vita, on the other hand, is designed for games, with extra features like social networking elements and applications built on top of that... people who want to buy a gaming system will not go out and buy a smartphone for exactly this reason." [Sourced from: http://au.gamespot.com/events/tgs-2011/story.html?sid=6334983]
The PS Vita looks to be shaping up nicely, with several games such as Escape Plan, Gravity Rush, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, and Little Big Planet to name but a few. Nevertheless, one thing is certain - the PS Vita will only succeed if gamers want a console and go out and purchase one. Thus, one question still remains: Is the PS Vita what current gamers really want?
Mini Gamers in interested in what you think about Sony's latest offering. Why not leave us a comment and let us know? We'd love to here your thoughts on the subject.