The most dedicated Playstation fans probably have mixed feelings about what they witnessed last night at Sony’s 2012 E3 Press Conference. On the one hand, we had the powerhouses The Last of Us and God of War: Ascension fully revealed with gameplay. We also had a great match between iconic Playstation characters in Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale, which was sure to get the nostalgia flowing. Third parties had a great showing with new footage for Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed III. Finally, Quantic Dream came out of left field with their next masterpiece, Beyond: Two Souls. The PS3 showed that, despite being in its sixth year, it is here to stay and has a slew of quality titles coming out this year and beyond.
But… but what about the Vita?
Sony’s brand new handheld device has not exactly made waves since its release back in February of this year. Armed with only handful of quality titles, a monstrous price tag and prohibitively priced memory cards, the Playstation Vita has failed to pick up steam, similar the Nintendo 3DS before it. Obviously, the 3DS is more than fine now as it is easily outpacing its predecessor, the titanic Nintendo DS. How did Nintendo turn the platform around? By announcing and quickly releasing multiple high-quality first party titles and ensuring continued support for years to come. The price drop didn’t hurt either. Tonight, it was expected that Sony would do one or both of those things to drive sales of the Playstation Vita into the holiday season. But they did neither. And it really begs the question- is Sony 100% on board with their own handheld?
First we’ll talk about what we did get.
We had three game “announcements” for the system, all of which were previously confirmed to be in development for the system. These titles were Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, and Call of Duty: Black Ops II: Declassified. And that was it – Underwhelming, to say the least. Liberation is definitely the most exciting of the three, bringing a brand new console Assassin’s Creed experience to the handheld- the kind of thing that was promised when the Vita was revealed. But it is really hard to not be disappointed that Call of Duty will once again be merely a spin-off in the handheld world, whereas we had hoped for, you know, the console game. You could have heard a pin drop at the announcement if it were not for the collective groan of some of those in attendance.
Two PSN titles were briefly mentioned and not shown, and both are cross-platform games with the PS3 that we’ve seen earlier in the past week; Soundshapes and When Vikings Attack. Beyond these five games, we also received word that Hulu Plus and Crackle would be coming to the Vita in addition to the previously-announced Youtube application, as well as PS One Clasic support. Finally, there was the announcement of DLC for the PS3 version of Littlebigplanet 2 that would allow for Vita control integration. Three retail titles, two PSN titles, and the promise of support for old content. And all of those things save the PS3 cross-play title were basically glossed over, not receiving the attention that they deserved and needed. We got the short trailer for Assassin’s Creed above along with the Crystal White Vita Bundle announcement, and nothing more than a logo for Call of Duty– we don’t even know who is making it! Everything else was mentioned in passing.
Now we’ll talk about what we needed to get.
A price drop was never a realistic option. Surely Sony witnessed Nintendo’s pricing stumbles but priced the Vita at $250 anyway, indicating that the bigger price tag was needed for profitability. What was a realistic hope was the reveal of a killer app for the Vita. That is what we need to see from Sony at the conference- a system seller. Something that would make Playstation fans drop their Dualshocks and go pick up a Vita. Call of Duty could have been that game, but disappointment is a legitimate fear at this point. The Assassin’s Creed spinoff has great potential- perhaps it could be the game we’re looking for. And there is still time for another developer to step forward this week and reveal a new title.
But what is wrong with this picture? Well, none of it is a first party effort. Where was Littlebigplanet Vita, which is already in Closed Beta testing? Where was the previously-demoed Killzone? A new IP? A sequel or spinoff to an existing franchise? Anything? Why aren’t they supporting the system with their own software? It’s extreme, but it almost seems like Sony means for the Vita to be nothing more than a companion to the PS3- an alternate controller, another method to play a handful of PS3 titles online with friends rather than an independent console. We saw cross-platform multiplayer, and touch screen integration with preexisting PS3 titles. There is little to no original content, exclusive to the system that demands that you buy it. And that couldn’t be more disappointing for those that have already shelled out for the new system or were looking for a reason to do so.
Nintendo’s press conference this morning shoved their handheld aside as well, to make room for their new console- as they should have. But even then, they have promised another hour of 3DS-specific announcements and reveals of both first and third party games for tomorrow night. This is what the Vita so desperately needs, but is not going to get.
Sound off in the comments. Are you disappointed with the lack of Vita software at the conference? Stay tuned for more E3 news here at FanBolt. Maybe, just maybe, some of it might be for the Vita.