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PS Vita Developer Says Launch Will Be "Car Wreck"

By - Source: gamesindustry.biz | B 29 comments

One PlayStation Vita developer has spoken out against the launch price.

Lyle Hall and Matthew Seymour at Heavy Iron Studios recently spoke out against Sony's upcoming PlayStation Vita, calling it a "car wreck" mostly because consumers only want to carry around a single device. They're not willing to shell out $249 and $299 for a device that mainly only has one function: playing games.

"If people aren't willing to pay $249 for a Nintendo 3DS, why would they pay $299 for Vita?" Hall told GamesIndustry.biz. "People don't want to carry more than one thing in their pocket, that’s why Android and iPhone have done so well, they are the devices of choice, they offer multiple functions outside of gaming. People don’t want [to carry more than one thing]. That's Nintendo's huge challenge - how do they add value to [a single platform]?"

Seymour, whose 20-year career includes tenure at Microsoft Game Studios and 2K Games prior to Heavy Iron Studios, was a bit more blunt with his observation. "With all due respect to Sony and Vita, it's a car wreck," he said. "And how about Xperia Play? I'd love to pull up the numbers on that."

Recently Nintendo dramatically reduced the price of its 3DS handheld by $80 USD, bringing the March launch pricetag of $249.99 down to $169.99 just months after its North American debut. Although initial lackluster sales may be due to the handheld's lackluster library of games, it may also be a reflection of old-school console manufacturers releasing hardware in a new Apple-dominated app-based market.

Seemingly addressing this, Sony Ericsson launched its PlayStation-branded Xperia Play smartphone here in the States back in May. The device is the first to sport Sony’s PlayStation (One) emulator and a slide-out PlayStation gamepad in addition to Android 2.3 "Gingerbread," dual cameras, hotspot capabilities and a nice load of pre-installed games. But this gaming phone seemingly hasn't caught on – possibly because of its underwhelming hardware – and now only costs $99.99 USD with a new 2-year contract with Verizon ($449.99 USD without contract). That's a dramatic drop in price compared to its original launch pricetag.

With that in mind, if console manufacturers dumped their handheld plans and focused on a single smartphone, they'll likely face the Xperia Play scenario where the branded phone launches but is quickly overtaken by phones sporting better hardware and features just weeks later. Because of this, the seemingly best scenario is to approach the smartphone market with a package similar to the PlayStation Suite – a branded emulator that works on multiple devices. Currently Sony's PlayStation Suite is heading to Tegra 2-based platforms in the near future.

But until that software-platform-only future is realized and the transition begins, Nintendo and Sony will likely keep pushing the dedicated handheld platform because it's what they know best. Developer Heavy Iron Studios still wants to see the PlayStation Vita succeed, but say that it's obvious that consumers aren't willing to spend huge amounts on a dedicated, limited unit.

"The technology is sweet, I'm a huge fan of mobile technology, but I just don't know there's a market out there anymore for the hardware," Hall admitted. "I can’t see why you would want to put a device out that only does games. [But] the consumer has spoken. We wanted to see that world exist - more players, more opportunities for us, but at the same time people don't want that. Unless there's a super technology paradigm shift, it’s not going to shift back."

As it stands now, the Wii U may suffer the same fate as the Nintendo 3DS which is why Nintendo investors want to see a shift towards the mobile sector. Unfortunately, old habits/traditions are hard to break.

Discuss
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  • 1 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , August 15, 2011 8:35 PM
    "If people aren't willing to pay $249 for a Nintendo 3DS, why would they pay $299 for Vita?"

    Well, the PS Vita is a higher-end and significantly more powerful portable media device, so I think a higher price tag is justified. The question is whether it's worth an extra $80 or $130 over the 3DS? When the PS Vita pricing was announced my impression was that the 3DS was comparatively overpriced, having the same $250 MSRP as the non 3G Vita.
  • 2 Hide
    shanky887614 , August 15, 2011 8:44 PM
    i only ussed psp to watch vids and instead of buying this i bought an andriod phone for $175
  • -2 Hide
    CaedenV , August 15, 2011 8:45 PM
    the 3DS is a failure because the device sucks, and there are no games. Vita will do better because it can play real games, not silly things like angrybirds (which can be played on google+ for free apparently). Real games have a story that lasts more than 10-20 minutes, and involve puzzles that take more than 2 minutes to solve. There is still a market for that. I think OnLive is a much bigger threat to mobile game platforms than the app stores because it will allow real full console and PC games on any mobile device.
  • 7 Hide
    Chaostrix , August 15, 2011 8:54 PM
    The main reason the 3DS failed was due to the bad press about the screen causing eye conditions, a small game library, and region locking.

    What people want from a device, is for it to be a specialized device for gaming, which has a large library, which doesn't require jailbreaking in order to play all games developed for the system. This is proven by how well regular DS and PSP sales are world wide per the weekly hardware charts.
  • 2 Hide
    mx2138 , August 15, 2011 8:54 PM
    I would like to agree but personally I'm a little bit more optimistic. Smart phones are still phones. A device whose main purpose is communication. I believe the gaming aspect of smart phones are meant for casual gamers who don't care about physical buttons.
  • 3 Hide
    rockhome6 , August 15, 2011 9:09 PM
    Its not compareable at all. You cannot simply compare a handheld gaming device with a smartphone.

    First of all its uncomfortable to game on a smartphone without buttons, secondly a smartphone cannot handle awesome quality games like say uncharted or god of war etc. A smartphone cannot be used for 4-5 hours of continous gaming. If you do so then its absolutely useless once it dies.

    The point is that even though your smartphone can do a lot of things, the priority is still for communication. So even if you game on a smartphone, it would be say just to pass your time and once you play for half an hour or an hour you realize oh wait i have to save up the battery and there ends the gaming session.

    So if anyone is happy playing casual games and once in a while gaming, then yes smartphone is enough for them but i doubt that ANY hardcore gamer would prefer a smartphone rather than a kickass handheld device.
  • 2 Hide
    mister g , August 15, 2011 9:11 PM
    caedenvthe 3DS is a failure because the device sucks, and there are no games. Vita will do better because it can play real games, not silly things like angrybirds (which can be played on google+ for free apparently). Real games have a story that lasts more than 10-20 minutes, and involve puzzles that take more than 2 minutes to solve. There is still a market for that. I think OnLive is a much bigger threat to mobile game platforms than the app stores because it will allow real full console and PC games on any mobile device.

    I disagree with the last bit, Onlive depends on streaming the game at a fast rate, much like how internet video works. With phone companies rapidly throttling speeds or outright limiting how much you download the only way you could play Onlive for a full month is to rely on fast and public Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • 0 Hide
    mschlenker , August 15, 2011 9:56 PM
    I think Xperia Play is a great idea that Sony never put any money behind, just dropped it in Verizon’s lap and said "here you go, it’s all yours". You need to get it out to ALL the wireless Co's or you’ll never get good market share. The software emulation, now that’s where the money could be if a good control scheme is developed or some type of BT peripheral is made.
  • 0 Hide
    bystander , August 15, 2011 10:12 PM
    rockhome6Its not compareable at all. You cannot simply compare a handheld gaming device with a smartphone.First of all its uncomfortable to game on a smartphone without buttons, secondly a smartphone cannot handle awesome quality games like say uncharted or god of war etc. A smartphone cannot be used for 4-5 hours of continous gaming. If you do so then its absolutely useless once it dies.The point is that even though your smartphone can do a lot of things, the priority is still for communication. So even if you game on a smartphone, it would be say just to pass your time and once you play for half an hour or an hour you realize oh wait i have to save up the battery and there ends the gaming session.So if anyone is happy playing casual games and once in a while gaming, then yes smartphone is enough for them but i doubt that ANY hardcore gamer would prefer a smartphone rather than a kickass handheld device.


    The question is, how many hardcore gamers are going to want to play on a handheld device? I have a computer for hardcore gaming, and if I find myself just wanting to play a game while waiting for something/one, I can just pop out my phone to keep me occupied.
  • 0 Hide
    badaxe2 , August 15, 2011 10:15 PM
    Smart phones cost just as much if not more, and do most things worse than Vita outside of phone calls and texting. Phones are also far more disposable with a much shorter life cycle are far less support than a device like Vita.

    Playing any type of legitimate game on a cell phone is a nightmare because of the tiny screen and horrible interface, touch screen or not. I believe there's still a market for a dedicated portable multimedia device, especially when it can be linked to a PS3 and vice versa. People are acting like the only thing this kit can do is play games just because you can't call people on it. Really.... apparently they forgot about music, movies, internet, PSN chat, front and rear cameras, GPS, PS3 controller functionality, a bigger screen on a device that'll still fit in your pocket, etc.

    Case in point: if I'm on the go, I'd choose a Vita for entertainment any day of the week over a smart phone/tablet/iPad/etc.
  • 1 Hide
    vertigo_2000 , August 15, 2011 10:34 PM
    The thing is, if a gamer wants to game, he's gonna buy a portable console. It's a one time purchase (other than games of course). No muss, no fuss. No contracts to sign. No monthly payments.

    Buying a smartphone just to play games means your gonna have to sign up for a 2-3 yr contract. Your gaming device just became a whole lot more expensive over a 3 yr period.

    The 2 different genres are tuff to mesh while satisying the consumers of both sides.
  • 2 Hide
    kinggraves , August 15, 2011 11:17 PM
    Retitle to "No name shovelware developers jump on the bandwagon". Go google them, tell me anything they've made is worthwhile, even THQ dumped them. Go check out their site too, I was able to notice they stole Enix's slime mascot in their job advert before the "UFC Trainer" advert exploded my speakers with fail and I ran.

    This has nothing to do with what gamers want. Small time devs like this like the fact they can compete with the big boys using 99 cent games. They can't make a million dollar "blockbuster" but they can make a few cartoon birds and pigs. People are much more likely to buy their garbage when it's 99 cents. It's the Taco Bell marketing strategy, people will buy it no matter how terrible it is if it's cheap. On the other side, it's much easier for the big production studios to toss out short games and make their money back selling extras and DLC once the hook is in.

    Yeah, the industry loves app store gaming, they win. It's the gamers that lose. You aren't going to get a quality product consistently at that price. You aren't going to get high end graphics that took 20 people to draw. You aren't going to pay a design team to strategize and put unique inputs into designing a level perfectly. You are not going to get the same level of product for 99 cents that you are for 50 dollars, that just isn't how things work. There's a lot of 50 dollar games that aren't worth more than 99 cents, but with the industry following this path, ALL you will get is products only worth 99 cents.
  • 0 Hide
    jaksun5 , August 16, 2011 12:39 AM
    Unfortunately many people will be whinging about the price, come christmas they'll go an buy one or two (DSes and Vitas) for thier kids, then they can go back to whinging about the economy and taxes with the rest of the tea baggers.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 16, 2011 1:47 AM
    i believe it is a simple matter of what niche does it aim... i mean... A serious gamer who wants to play on-the-go, might not want a graphics-wise weak system like the Nintendo's 3DS, and may be willing to pay a quarter-thousand dollars for a nice, powerful and trusted design-wise portable console.

    And may i add... the game library of the Vita is actually exciting, since many great titles will be present, like Uncharted, God of War, Need for Speed (the serious ones) and many exclusives with very good graphics, which is what i think hardcore gamers nowadays want.

    Just two notes i wanna make explicit.
    1: i hope the Vita doesn't heat up too much, because with so much power overall, and no dedicated cooling (at least the PSP didn't had, as far as i know), which would be very troublesome.
    2: if Sony downgrades vita again, i'll remove my good thoughts and start to think again about it. I was very, very excited about its very-high end specs when it was first talked about some months ago. Something like several gigs of RAM, a very high end GPU, a quad-core processor and something like that were the rumors. I was thinking "wow, finally the handhelds are catching up to the real world. Thanks, Sony." and now i'm more like "meh... just another facelift over the old PSP... some touchscreens? Little improvement over graphics? No, thanks."
  • -3 Hide
    sony1978ak , August 16, 2011 3:59 AM
    I said it before and I will say again, for Sony to win the portable war they must add these futures to PSVITA.

    1- Built in HD tuner so we can watch the HD free to air TV on the go.

    2- Built in digital radio so we can listen to radio station not just mp3.internet radio cost too much data and $$ so that is not an option.

    3- APP store, like Apple, and Go...
  • -3 Hide
    sony1978ak , August 16, 2011 4:01 AM

    I said it before and I will say again, for Sony to win the portable war they must add these futures to PSVITA.

    1- Built in HD tuner so we can watch the HD free to air TV on the go.

    2- Built in digital radio so we can listen to radio station not just mp3.internet radio cost too much data and $$ so that is not an option.

    3- APP store, like Apple, and Google android market, so we can download apps like face book Google earth, angry birds, and so on, etc.

    4- Built in turn by turn navigation, like tom-tom, and nav man, etc.

    5- Built in 8MP camera, with HD video recording.

    6- A good web browser, not like the crappie PSP browser.

    7- Must support the latest flash player, and java plug-in.

    Sony is only targeting gamers with PSVITA, in my opinion that’s a bad move.They must target everyone.

    I have a ps3 I hardly use it for games I got it for bluray and playtv futters and PSN videos store.
  • 1 Hide
    Male_07 , August 16, 2011 8:21 AM
    Back when the psp still had games I actually wanted to play I used to carry around my DS, my psp and my iphone. DS for when I was travelling, psp for when I had a lunchbreak and my iphone to use as a phone. I'm perfectly fine with carrying multiple devices.
    Clearly this guy has never heard of bags or something.
  • 1 Hide
    guanyu210379 , August 16, 2011 12:24 PM
    Well...the Vita is definitely more advance than 3DS but to the question if people want to pay such price is another problem.
    In my opinion, game titles have more influence for the price of a gaming device.

    Let take an example. I have a DS and a PSP...I carry DS around with me but my PSP is somewhere in my room covered with dust...why?...I do not like the games or I can not find interesting games...now, I regret paying such price for my PSP...

    note: I am using also a Desire...no relation at all with DS or PSP and I am not interested on getting Xperia play!
  • 0 Hide
    DSpider , August 16, 2011 1:03 PM
    I think having more than one device is better, mainly because of the battery issue. I don't want to limit my conversations to a (very likely) ~8% remaining battery charge. Especially if it's an important call. For carrying one device, I would carry an iPod touch (which won't have 3G, hopefully). Less radiation to worry about too.

    It's not going to be a "car wreck". Personally, I won't EVER go for the 3G version ($300) because I seriously don't need another data plan.
  • 0 Hide
    stingstang , August 16, 2011 1:30 PM
    Another take is this: Phones have been a part of handheld devices far before it was the other way around. The original PSP could make calls through the wifi, and it was free! Add a 2g/3g network and you're golden. As long as you can make a call with the Vita (which can't seriously be that hard to mod) it should sell just fine.
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