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PlayStation UK Boss calls Vita "the iPod of handheld gaming"

PlayStation UK Boss calls Vita "the iPod of handheld gaming"

Tue 14 Jan 2014 12:24am GMT / 7:24pm EST / 4:24pm PST
Hardware

Fergal Gara notes an increase in the number of Vita titles being bought digitally

In an interview with VG247, PlayStation UK Managing Director Fergal Gara said that a digital-only future for the Playstation Vita is not out of the question.

"Compared to PS3, Vita has had a higher percentage of games bought digitally since it was first launched," explained Gara. "It's interesting and it demonstrates how many people look at it as the iPod of handheld gaming. More Vita games are still consumed through physical game cards than they are through digital, but things are increasingly moving the other way. Could be that in future physical games becomes the side we do without."

The rise in multi-purpose tablets and smartphones has been a difficult thorn on the side of the Vita's success, as consumers are finding they don't want a device that's perceived as just playing games. Gara acknowledges that other mobile devices can be a problem for the Vita.

"The truth is that the number of people that want the core experience [that Vita offers] is not as big as the number that simply want any sort of game available on the move and, because the likes of a tablet and smart phone are so multifunctional in their use, they will always be very appealing," said Gara. "Really, I think the reason it hasn't sold more is that it comes down to people thinking: 'Do I need it as well as these other things that are taking my money?'"

The PlayStation 4's success and the Vita Remote Play feature means the Vita itself could see some additional sales, but Sony is cognizant about making sure the portable doesn't get trampled by PS4 hype.

"It's our job to make the message clear to people so that they understand the Vita is a console in its own right and also a great partner to the PS4."

19 Comments

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

968 1,161 1.2
"The iPod of handheld gaming" so it's quickly dying out? Sorry, couldn't resist (I love my Vita for the record >_>).

Posted:3 months ago

#1

Christian Keichel
Journalist

416 562 1.4
Most people I know used mp3 files they ripped from their physical CDs on the icon.

Posted:3 months ago

#2

Craig Page
Programmer

381 216 0.6
I would call PS Vita the Wii of handheld gaming. No games for it, under powered, terrible controller, and you deeply regret purchasing it just a week after you take it out of the box.

There's not even a proper God of War for Vita!! Just ports of the PSP games.

Being an early adopter sucks!!

Posted:3 months ago

#3

Benn Achilleas
director

72 32 0.4
It is such a shame the way it is under utilised by Sony. Such a lovely bit of kit.
I <3 my Vita.

Posted:3 months ago

#4

Christian Keichel
Journalist

416 562 1.4
I would call PS Vita the Wii of handheld gaming. No games for it, under powered, terrible controller, and you deeply regret purchasing it just a week after you take it out of the box.
What is wrong with the Vita controls? The device has two analog sticks, 6 buttons, a digital pad, a back pad and a touchscreen, I don't see any problem here. But then I don't know why the Vita should be underpowered either, what hardware should Sony have used instead, when the current tech specs put the costs of the console already in a region above it's competitor?
Last but not least, the comparison with the Wii is deeply flawed, because the Wii was the most successful console of it's generation, not the least successful and it was successful, because it's customers didn't found the controller "terrible", but attractive.

Posted:3 months ago

#5

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

714 496 0.7
@Craig
would call PS Vita the Wii of handheld gaming. No games for it, under powered, terrible controller, and you deeply regret purchasing it just a week after you take it out of the box.
First of all, I would not dare to even suggest that the Wii has no games, there is addiference between "having no games" and "having no games that you like" (which is my case and the reason why I don't own one, btw :) )
It lacks games, like happened with the PSP at the beginning before it became the cheaper development machine out there and a lot of companies started to work for it; Sony provably aims at the same nowadays. Not to mention remote gaming is working quite decently with the PS4 (cloud be better, but ok in general)

Aside from that, I don't get how can you say that the most powerful handheld console in the market (it's around 90% the power of a PS3) is "underpowered". About the controls... well. I can play such a control demanding game like Blazblue on it like if it were a PS3 controller.
I need to ask, do you actually own one?

Posted:3 months ago

#6

Sandy Lobban
Founder and Creative Director

317 174 0.5
Im not sure what like the ipod means, but it wont be comparible to any up to date iOS (or android) device until they change the business model: Making retail kits with a development mode and the development tools free to download would be a good start in welcoming developers to the device. Its a great device, but it was plagued with an out of date business model for getting content on to the system.

Posted:3 months ago

#7

John Bye
Senior Game Designer

477 434 0.9
Craig - "I would call PS Vita the Wii of handheld gaming. No games for it, under powered, terrible controller, and you deeply regret purchasing it just a week after you take it out of the box"
Really? I may be a bit biased as I've been a PS Plus subscriber since before the Vita came out, so I had about 20 free games waiting for me when I finally bought one recently, but I'm loving it so far.

There may not be a huge catalogue of games, but there are some real gems in there (so far I've really enjoyed Uncharted, Gravity Rush and Lumines, and I'll probably cave in and buy Tearaway if it doesn't show up free on Plus soon), as well as all the great PS1 and PSP games you can play on it.

The hardware was about as good as you could get in a handheld device (including tablets and phones) at the time it was released, and still holds up well today. Some of the games have almost PS3 quality visuals, to my eye at least.

The controls work just fine, and personally I find it a lot more comfortable to use than any Nintendo handheld I've ever used (the GBA in particular was horrible with any game that made extensive use of the shoulder buttons). The combination of front and back touch controls and gyro with an almost full set of home console-style sticks and buttons (all it's missing are triggers) gives you the best of both worlds and allows for some innovative gameplay in the games that take full advantage of them.

No regrets here, and I've had mine for a couple of months now.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by John Bye on 15th January 2014 2:02pm

Posted:3 months ago

#8
Vita has plenty of good games. It just receives a lot of undeserved media bashing for the lack of exclusives and 1st party software in comparison to 3DS.

It's funny though. 3DS accumulates so much attention and sales because of their 1st party games, while Vita, packed with good 3rd party software, can't seem to attract customers. On the other hand, Wii U's and PS4's strategy seems awfully same while producing completely different results. Since the beginning of September, Nintendo published at least two AAA exclusives monthly for Wii U while Sony showed (quality wise) lackluster launch software. But PS4 still destroys Wii U sales wise.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lucija Pilic on 15th January 2014 10:03pm

Posted:3 months ago

#9

Christian Keichel
Journalist

416 562 1.4
@ Lucija

The Vita has some 3rd party support, but the problem is, it's mainly coming from indies and those titles don't have the mass appeal of games from the big majors, additionally most of the games are (late) ports and the people interested in these games already have played them when they were originally released on other platforms. Last but not least the independent games from Western developers aren't what Japanese gamers are interested in and
Japan was the only region where the the PSP was a success.
Regarding the Wii U PS4 comparison, I think an initial launch shipment is not enough to say the "PS4 destroys Wii U sales wise".

Posted:3 months ago

#10

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

714 496 0.7
@Christian
Japan was the only region where the the PSP was a success.
You mean the VITA, right? PSP ended being a big success everywhere.

I believe this will happen with the VITA too as soon as it becomes the low production cost machine (Provably in a year or so) The success in Japan had to do with the price cut too. I don't really know what Sony is waiting to do the same around here.

Posted:3 months ago

#11

Christian Keichel
Journalist

416 562 1.4
@ Alfonso

I mean the PSP, the sytem wasn't successful outside Japan, because the device never sold software in large quantities. While the 80 million sold units may sound impressive, the software sales for the PSP are terrible, even more, if you take in account, that Sony instantly re-released every single game they made for the PSP on their budget label within a few months after release.

For comparsion, it took the PSP 9 years to reach 80 million units and from November 2004-March 2011 283 million games were sold for the PSP (unfortunately Sony stopped reporting worldwide sales number after March 2011), the Gameboy Advance sold 81 million units in 7 years (the vast majority in the first 5 years) and in that time 377 million games were sold for the device (361 millio games were sold in the 6 years 2002-2007).
The PSP is the handheld with the lowest attach rate ever and this makes it a failure. In Japan the situation was different, the games for the PSP regulary showed up in the charts and with Monster Hunter the system had a big multi million seller.

Sources:
http://www.scei.co.jp/corporate/data/bizdatapspsoft_sale_e.html
http://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/library/historical_data/pdf/consolidated_sales_e1309.pdf

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Christian Keichel on 16th January 2014 9:32am

Posted:3 months ago

#12

Sandy Lobban
Founder and Creative Director

317 174 0.5
The announcement today that Unity 4.3 has a vita exporter may help, but you will still have to register to get a devkit. Getting there slowly I guess

Posted:3 months ago

#13

Sandy Lobban
Founder and Creative Director

317 174 0.5
The announcement today that Unity 4.3 has a vita exporter may help, but you will still have to register to get a devkit. Getting there slowly I guess

Posted:3 months ago

#14

Simon Smith
Producer/BizDev

10 1 0.1
The VITA is one of the best bits of games hardware I've ever owned. It's just a beautiful piece of kit and the controls are excellent, exactly what we've been asking for.
I wish Sony would just get on with it and release a smartphone with built-in VITA - if they can release the VITA TV for less than $100 then surely they can build it into a smartphone? :-)
The other major issue is the price of the memory cards, though they have been trying to reduce it recently. I think they should have made the VITA more expensive and added a hard drive. The obsession with keeping the costs down seems strange, it shouldn't be competing with the DS as it's not really a kids toy. Apple have shown that adults will pay more for a decent, quality device like the iPod and even more if it does everything they want like the iPhone.

Posted:3 months ago

#15

Christian Keichel
Journalist

416 562 1.4
@ Simon

The battery life of the Vita is already 3 hours max, adding a hard drive (even a very small SSD) would reduce the battery life even further. Apple's devices are not aimed at gamers, so the comparsion doesn't make sense.
About a Vita Smartphone, who wants to hold a device with 2 analog sticks on his head and removing the sticks means removing everything the Vita is about.

Last but not least, the DS wasn't aimed at kids, it was successful, because people outside the traditional gaming demographics (read: grown ups without a console) bought the device in large numbers.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christian Keichel on 16th January 2014 10:08am

Posted:3 months ago

#16

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,118 888 0.8
iPod is probably part of the problem.

Posted:3 months ago

#17

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 902 0.5
I love my Vita and get a ton of use from it. I think the initial pricing and overpriced proprietary memory card necessity put some people off who still haven't bought one even with the redesign (and 1GB of memory is a poor solution, btw). Then again, I tend to use my Vita at home so I can charge the thing when the battery gets low (although, I've accidentally left it on a few entire evenings or weekends while playing some RPGs and that sleep mode has been my best friend when I pick it up and *Yaaaah!* realize I forgot to shut the thing down).

Hmmm. I guess if someone figures out a power solution that's portable and not bulky, that HDD/SSD issue will be moot (but I don't think the price of a reworked system with a better battery and huge upgradeable on board storage would be inexpensive)...

Posted:3 months ago

#18

Yiannis Koumoutzelis
Founder & Creative Director

356 181 0.5
vita an ipod!?!?!? LOL is what I say!
not even today that iPod sales have dropped it's anywhere near. wishful thinking.
that's ok. after all despite not many people wanting one it is a very nice piece of hardware.

Posted:3 months ago

#19

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