E3 2014: Sony considers Vita just an accessory

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We have reached a point where Sony and Nintendo may be the most comparable they ever have been or ever will be.  How you ask, well, in that they both now feature a “second screen” experience with their consoles.  Prior to the Sony press conference Sony Computer Entertainment of America President Andrew House had some pretty telling words about the state of the PlayStation Vita.

Sony failed to ever do a whole lot in the form of success with the PlayStation Portable, and it seems that may be the trend with the PlayStation Vita as well.  In a quote from House, it seems that Sony may be changing their whole model surrounding the Vita:

“We’ve taken a more holistic view with our platforms. With remote play, Vita has now essentially, become an extender or an enhancer for the main platform for other rooms in the house, or when someone else wants to use the main screen”

House then went on to talk about marketing the PlayStation Vita to a younger audience as well as embracing the Indie game community.

Whether a PlayStation Vita owner or not, this news is massively disappointing for the success of the handheld console.  The PlayStation Vita was sold as a device that would allow console quality games on the go.  With the launch of the PlayStation 4, the handheld was touted as being an extension of your console and allowing the experience to continue through mobile remote play.

Unfortunately, it now seems as though PlayStation views the Vita as nothing more than a smaller version of the Nintendo Gamepad.  The Vita has become a second screen for the main attraction.  A marketing stumble or a failure of the handheld console as a whole, either way, Sony and the PlayStation Vita don’t look good in this scenario.

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Tags: E3 2014 Playstation Vita Sony Video Games

  • ichizon

    These headlines about the PS Vita are sensationalistic.

    The PlayStation Portable was quite a success with its lifetime sales figures. It was overshadowed by the DS, but the PSP sold 80 million units, along with 3.66 games per unit. In addition, the hacking scene is amongst the best I’ve ever seen for any hardware, not counting PC.

    The PS Vita has not really had great traction yet, and while that is not prone to changing randomly, putting focus on having the Vita as a second screen device is a genius move. It is an accessory AND a handheld console. It isn’t a required part like the second screen for Wii U, and it doesn’t quit being a handheld console. It is an independent device, and they said last year that all games for the PS4 would be possible to play via Remote Play on the PS Vita, as long as it doesn’t require any special input other than the standard PS4 controller.

    This is a positive thing that was announced long ago, just with a bad media angle that baited all the gamezines.

    • Ikechi Onyenaka

      This is a negative because in the they are basically replacing AAA Vita exclusives with remote play. They wouldn’t have been in this situation if SCEA marketed the Vita and its games heavily in North America and supported the Vita with their top selling 1st party games along with making deals to get 3rd party Western franchises onto Vita. This right hear is the problem. People are becoming ok with this and not seeing the big picture. We need to come together in mass just like we did for PS4(even just like the Xbox fans did for the Xbox One) and demand support for the Vita by SCEA.

  • miyamoto

    The second and more troubling event originated from an interview that Andrew House, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment did with Edge. Several sites, including Gamasutra and others, cherry-picked a select quote that made it sound like the Vita was being reduced to the role of an accessory in the eyes of Sony. People jumped to the conclusion that the Vita was now little more than an extender for Remote Play with the PS4. But is that what he actually said?

    Let’s take a quick look at his entire comment in full. When asked about the difficulty they were having in selling the Vita, he said the following:

    “Well, the first market that I would point to is Japan, where the dedicated portable market has always been very strong. We’re really encouraged to see the start of a very positive spiral in the Japanese market around Vita. Weekly sales are getting to that point where we can really see that this is a platform that has got some legs. That, definitely, is having an effect on the Japanese publishing and development community. Overseas is more challenging. That said, we’ve taken a more holistic view with our platforms. With Remote Play, Vita has now essentially become an extender or an enhancer for the main platform for other rooms in the house, or when someone else wants to use the main screen. As the lifecycle of the platform progresses, there’s an opportunity to position Vita for a younger audience as well with the appropriate franchises. And it’s becoming a very accessible and easy on-ramp for independent developers, those who have had some success in the mobile space and now want to work on games that are that little bit richer, that have a more dedicated gaming interface. And we’re certainly seeing Vita being embraced by that community very strongly.”

    Yep, he does mention the Vita being used as an extender. But is that all it is? No.

    He says quite clearly that the Vita is selling just fine in Japan, but not as well everywhere else. Why is that? Maybe it’s because the market for dedicated handheld gaming devices in the United States and Europe isn’t as big as it is in Japan. They’ve tried selling it in those markets as a dedicated gaming machine, and it has failed to gain much traction. In order for it to succeed in the West it needs to be more than just a gaming console. It needs to be an important piece of the PlayStation ecosystem as a whole (hence the “holistic” view). If people are not going to buy it as a dedicated gaming machine, then maybe they’ll buy it if they know it can also do these other things, like Remote Play with the PS4.

    Sony doesn’t want the Vita to only be a Remote Play device, but to also be a Remote Play device.

    “PS Vita will remain a key pillar for us.”

    -Shawn Layden, President and CEO of SCEA

    Sony is not abandoning the Vita, but it is trying to reposition it. This much came through loud and clear in both their E3 Conference and in events over the last few months. Services like PS Now will add value to the Vita platform, but the true growth lies in other markets.

    It appears that Sony has discovered that in order to sell a dedicated handheld gaming device in the United States and Europe, you need to get kids onboard. Outside of Japan, it’s rare to see adults walking around with dedicated handheld devices. Yes, there are of course exceptions, but the market for devices like the Vita tend to be with kids. Adults have their smartphones and seem quite content to game on them to pass the idle time while on a bus or waiting at a doctor’s office. But kids, sitting in the backseat of the car for long stretches of time, have traditionally played a 3DS to help pass the time. It looks like Sony is finally starting to want to get in on the action.

    Andrew House told us as much when he said, “… there’s an opportunity to position the Vita for a younger audience…”

    As the father of an eight year old girl (and an avid Vita fan) I have always been disappointed with the lack of kids games available for the system. Yes, there was the occasional LEGO game, but when compared with what was offered for the 3DS, the pickings were slim.

    People like to point to Tearaway as a great game to get kids interested in the Vita, but as charming as Iota and Atoi are, they are characters completely foreign to children. What the Vita needs is a character that kids know. A character that is familiar to them and that they’ll want to play with. This is what makes the Disney Infinity 2.0 announcement for the Vita at E3 this week so important. Now dozens of familiar characters, from Frozen’s Elsa to Captain America, will be available for children of all ages to play with.

    And as we learned this week, the experience they will get on the PS Vita will the be the same one they will get on the PS3. This is in addition to the news that when Minecraft comes to the Vita, it too will be the full console experience and not the crippled Pocket Edition. And Minecraft attracts kids. I’ve known people who have purchased XBOX 360s just so their kids could play Minecraft.

    It was also telling when the game included in the PlayStation TV bundle wasLEGO The Movie, and not Killzone Mercenary. PSTV is an inexpensive way to get people (and parents) into the Vita ecosystem and introduce them to the other great games that are available. And at $99, it’s the perfect console to go into the kids’ playroom (especially since you don’t have to worry about it crashing to the floor if knocked).

    Then there are other games like Invizimals: The Alliance and The Resistance as well as PlayStation Vita Pets. The number of family friendly titles (a.k.a. kids’ games) has exploded in the last few months, and kids have gone from having nothing to play to, well, more than nothing. But the list is growing.

    Games like Disney Infinity and Minecraft may not be the big AAA titles that current Vita owners are craving, but they are important games if the Vita is to survive as a console. Then, perhaps, once the install base grows to a size that can support AAA from third parties, maybe we’ll see more of them arrive.

    But the Vita is not being abandoned. It’s not dead. There’s a lot of life left in it, and Sony is trying to reposition it so people will know just how much this little device is capable of.

    Source:
    http://thevitalounge.net/sony-is-quietly-repositioning-the-vita-not-abandoning-it/

  • miyamoto

    Yeah right.

    100 games are being developed for PS Vita and PlayStation TV as we speak. How is that a failure?

    “PS Vita will remain a key pillar for us.”

    -Shawn Layden, President and CEO of SCEA

    Selling or not not selling much I am glad Sony is dedicated to improve and support the PS Vita with PS TV. That is faith, belief, confidence & dedication to the gamer.

    “… there’s an opportunity to position the Vita for a younger audience…”

    Finally!!!!!

    Sony learned their lesson!

    Albeit like,” What took them so long to realize this,dammit!!!”

    Sony has finally woke up to their senses.

    Now we are talking.

    There is no denying that Nintendo defined what handheld gaming is for decades – a platform for young gamers. I know Sony wanted hardcore gamers to play the PSP & Vita & did not want to stoop down to Nintendo’s kiddie levels but its nice to know PlayStation knows now how to play their game.

    Swallowed their pride? Maybe.
    But they know true console gaming is done at home & on the bigger screen.

    “People like to point to Tearaway as a great game to get kids interested in the Vita, but as charming as Iota and Atoi are, they are characters completely foreign to children. What the Vita needs is a character that kids know. A character that is familiar to them and that they’ll want to play with. This is what makes the Disney Infinity 2.0 announcement for the Vita at E3 this week so important. Now dozens of familiar characters, from Frozen’s Elsa to Captain America, will be available for children of all ages to play with.”

    I have been saying this to Mr. Yoshida on Twitter for the longest time. He finally listened.
    Sony nailed it this time.

    This is why I have so much faith on PlayStation- the name you can trust!

    You know what is being killed as we speak….Kinect.

    • Ikechi Onyenaka

      “100 games are being developed for PS Vita and PlayStation TV as we speak. How is that a failure?”. Of how many of those games are indie games and JRPG’s? Last time I recall, indies haven’t pushed the Vita’s hardware sales in the West. Also how many of those games(if they are AAA games) will be marketed on TV and other places so that a wide majority of people will know that those games are coming out? Exactly. SCEA never markets the Vita and its games. That’s why the price cut to $200 didn’t save the system. That’s why Killzone Mercenary(first true fps on the go) didn’t sell well or save the system. That’s why Tearaway(first Vita game to use the systems features in a non-gimmicky way) didn’t save the system or sell well. Thats why the recently released Borderlands 2 Vita bundle didn’t save the Vita. And if SCEA hasn’t supported the Vita up till now, what makes you think that they’ll support the Playstation TV(Vita TV in JP)?

      “… there’s an opportunity to position the Vita for a younger audience…”. They’ve had that opportunity for the longest time with games like LBP Vita, Tearaway, Sly Cooper Thieves in Time, the Lego games, etc. They even missed their opportunity with the recently released Playstation Vita Pets. Getting Disney Infinity 2.0 for Vita was a great move(what took them so long? They should get Skylanders too), but its highly unlikely that we’ll see commercials of that gaming stressing that fact that its on Vita like Nintendo would do for the 3ds.

      Point is, we should all come together in mass to tell demand better support for the Vita from SCEA so that the Vita’s install base will increase.

  • miyamoto

    “Sony failed to ever do a whole lot in the form of success with the PlayStation Portable, and it seems that may be the trend with the PlayStation Vita as well. ”

    80 million plus units sold and lasted well in 10 years life cycle is a failure? Wow. Just wow.
    Garme Journalizm at its finest! So by your logic PS3 & 360 are failures, too.

    When your websites fail you guys resort to click bait garbage like this. That is really sad and cancerous.

  • Ikechi Onyenaka

    It seams like they are dodging the main reason for the Vita’s poor sales in the West(specifically North America). Lack of 1st & 3rd party AAA exclusives, bundles, over priced memory cards, and lack of heavy marketing. Compare the amount of 3ds commercials that air to the amount of Vita commercials…. and you wonder why know one knows what a Vita is. Sony needs to stop making excuses and support the Vita properly as a standalone handheld gaming system and market the system and its games. Nintendo has shown countless times with the 3ds that the market is OBVIOUSLY still there. This is competition, and them excepting defeat to the 3ds is like them excepting defeat to the Xbox One and Wii U. SCEA need to step their game up in the West.