The Vita hit North American shores four years ago this week, and we’re bringing a week’s worth of Vita content to mark the occasion. Be sure to go back and check out Monday’s top roguelikes and Tuesday’s upcoming games pieces if you missed them.
While the Vita has been and remains a great handheld device, there is no question that a number of dubious decisions held it back from larger success. Today I am going to list the biggest blunders Sony made with regards to their latest portable console.
Pricey, proprietary memory cards
SD memory cards were introduced to the public way back in 1999. The Vita launched in 2012, years after even MicroSD cards were commonplace. Rather than use this industry standard, that is relatively affordable, Sony decided to create their own memory cards. The system itself has only a minimal amount of space available. You really need to purchase a memory card to have the best experience. Sony has defended this decision, saying the proprietary cards ensure everybody has the same experience. SD cards come in a variety of speeds so a player buying the cheapest card may have experienced less than desirable performance. The other reason was Sony’s efforts to curtail piracy, which did work rather effectively, but at the cost of a bigger impact on consumers’ wallets. A 64GB memory card for the Vita runs about $100, compared to a Class 10 MicroSD memory card costing typically less than $20. Going with the 64GB option increases the cost of ownership nearly 60%
The Vita was announced at E3 2011, and had a 3G model. This means you can have the fun of owning a Vita combined with the joys of a monthly cellular data contract. Sony partnered with AT&T, which received audible groans and boos from the crowd at E3, for this service that clearly nobody needed nor wanted. Wireless networks are commonplace, and there’s little reason to need an active data connection on the go. It’d be a nice feature if available for free, I guess. However, the ability to download a game patch in the middle of a forest is not something I want the privilege of paying a minimum of $15 a month for.
It is rare for marketing messaging to be deeming false advertising by a court, but Sony lost such a case in November 2014 and as a result was forced to offer a settlement to claimants of a class action lawsuit. The case argued that Sony made less-than-honest claims about how cross platform gaming and their cross-save feature worked. Sony, according to the Federal Trade Commission, claimed Vita users could pause any PS3 game and continue to play on their Vita at the point they left off. Ultimately this was a feature in only a very select amount of games, and sometimes required buying a copy of the game on both systems for it to work.
(Lack of) AAA Games
The Vita debuted with a massive launch library and had early support from major franchises, including Uncharted, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed. The larger AAA game pool dried up rather quickly, and Sony is now squarely focused on supporting the PlayStation 4, leaving Vita’s game pipeline in the hands of indie developers. This is not strictly a bad thing, but the system would likely have achieved bigger success if Sony continued to push for AAA titles to be released.
Which of these items do you thing impacted the potential of the Vita the most? Sound off in the comments below.