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How Sony needs to fix the Vita… and No it doesn’t start with a Price Drop

During the time when the PSP was on its last leg and before Nintendo released the 3DS, if you had asked me to design my perfect handheld this is what I would have said:

Capacitive Touch Screen, Dual Analog Sticks, standard buttons, 3G (Free like the Kindle or Subsidized), Wifi, comparable power with PS3, two camera, ability to play If not full PS3 games on the go or least PSN games, Bluetooth support for controllers, HDMI out

That was basically my list, there were a few other things, slider like the Go, but you get the idea. The Playstation Vita is almost my perfect handheld. It has a capacitive touch to go along with the standard buttons, not to mention Sony added the back touch pad and gyroscope, it has 3G/Wifi and two cameras, and it does play some PSN games. So it was almost what I dreamed about in a new handheld, and It was like this for a lot of people.

The Playstation Vita was the next generation handheld we wanted.

So why is it not doing well?

While everyone one focuses on the price and cost of memory cards, or the perceived lack of games, there are other issues Sony needs to address, and if they do, the Vita can easily become a power house worthy of the Playstation Legacy.

By fixing these other issues, Sony will be able to overcome the price and game comments, and show the true value of the Vita as a companion piece to the PS3 and soon PS4.

Apple has done a fantastic job of creating fans and moving them over to the other product lines. iPOD owners became Mac users, who became iPHONE users and finally iPAD users.

Sony had previously done this in the past with their other lines of business, but with the recent struggles they need to go back to basics and focus on converting PS3 and PSP owners to Vita owners, before worrying about getting Playstation owners to convert to 3DTVs, 4K TVS, etc…

Sony can do this by fixing and expand the Cross Features

Cross Buy, Cross Play, Cross Save, Cross Controller, etc…

Sony has made a mess of the Cross Features on the Vita. In order to fix this they must put some checks  and standards in place going forward. I would suggest that they tie these standards into the launch of the PS4, that way one hand washes the other.

Sony can NOT continue giving the Vita game away for free. I know we all like free stuff, but this destroys the value and sales of the Vita game. As Michael Patcher tells us, once you give something away for free, it is hard to charge for it going forward. I believe Sony needs to go back to the original way they handled Cross Buy when MLB The Show 12 was released. If you don’t remember the way that worked was if you purchased both games during launch month you got an instant coupon for $20 off the game. This is a much better value proposition, because Sony is still showing Vita games have value, they are giving us a tangible item instead of a digital download, and it worked both ways, where as the current cross buy gives you nothing if you buy the Vita version.

So for retail games, there needs to be a two way discounted offered on the games, so you can still be rewarded if you are a Vita only person thinking about getting a PS3. Free Digital Vita versions should only be included in premium packages like mid to high tier Call of Duty sku.

As I mentioned in my Dream Handheld, I hoped that the PSP successor would be able to play all PSN games. Obviously Sony didn’t put this in place before the Vita was released; shoot the Vita still can’t play all digital PSP or PS1 games.

But going forward just as Sony put it in place that all games had to have trophies after a certain point, they need to make it were all PSN games are compatible with the Vita, and continue the Cross Buy they have used with the likes of Sound Shapes and Retro City Rampage.

Also going forward every Vita game that has a PS3 or PS4 counterpart needs to feature cross play, cross save, and cross controller.  Again, this can be something that officially goes into effect with the launch of the PS4.

Sony had done this right in bits and pieces with a number of games; Playstation All Stars shared Network Data and allowed for cross play with full invites and parties between the PS3 and Vita, but didn’t share trophies or game saves. Need for Speed Most Wanted, shared speed points between versions, but had no cross play or save despite the games being more or less identical. Some games like Soundshapes or Retro City Rampage did everything right, but didn’t take it far enough.

Finally Sony needs to update and improve Remote Play. Back at E3 2011 they showed a demo of Killzone 3 being played over Remote Play with the Vita. Sony needs to make this happen to strengthen the Vita brand, as well as take potential market share from the WiiU.

Even without a strong line up, or a big power boost over the current gen, the WiiU has being gaining gamers because of the simple idea of being able to continue your game while your significant other watches TV. Sony has been able to do this for years with remote play via the PSP, but has still yet to capitalize on it. At this time with Remote Play you can view media stored on your PS3 (Pictures, Music, Videos), surf the internet, chat, adjust setting, create/respond to messages, play a very small selection of PS3 or PSN games, and all PS1 games.

Sony needs to embrace what hacks have already accomplished and open of Remote Play for all PS3 functions. There is no harm in allowing the Vita to operate the same as the WiiU tablet. In fact this will increase sales because again, its allowing you to take your PS3 experience on the go, playing those games over Wifi and 3G. Sony recently purchased Gaikai who specialized in a cloud gaming service. They need to incorporate this tech into Remote Play and set the standard that every game going forward (could start with PS4 launch again) that is not on Vita will be playable on Vita over remote play.

The Vita needs to be a companion piece to your home console. You really need to be able to bring your console experience everywhere. Not just from a graphical standpoint, but being able take your single player game on the road or earn experience towards it. Travel with your Sports Franchise making trades and playing games before syncing up with your console when you get home, and finally being able to take on your friends with the multiplayer experience anywhere in the world, any time, any place.

Sony needs to fix these issues with the Vita, or the even the eventual price drop, will do little to help the Vita.

Later

TDC

Filed under Playstation PS3 Vita Remote Play Sony PS4 PSN WiiU


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