By Jeremy M. Zoss in Five Things
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm
It's safe to say that the world of mobile gaming has changed dramatically in the last three decades. Where once rudimentary games were played on tiny LCD screens similar to a digital watch, now portable systems rival their at home counterparts with amazing graphics and complex games. But we're also living in a world where 35% of all adults in the US carry around a gaming device daily, namely their smartphone. With sales of dedicated portable gaming systems on the decline, is the PlayStation Vita a revolutionary entertainment device, or the final shutters of a dying portable gaming industry?
While I've certainly been impressed with my short time on the PlayStation Vita, it feels like there may be something missing, something overlooked either to cut costs, or to get one last system out on the market before smartphones officially take over. The following are five things I think the PlayStation Vita missed out on, some of which they may still have time to fix.
5. Free Internet Access for PSN Purchases
I love my Barnes and Nobel Nook. I have read so much more since I purchased it, and the reason why is because I can buy a new book, anytime, anywhere, and there is no extra cost for it, thanks to free internet access for purchases from AT&T. So needless to say, when I saw that the Vita was going to have wireless internet access through AT&T, I naturally thought that while playing multiplayer games would require a subscription, purchases would not.
I know that a PlayStation game is much larger file than a relatively miniscule e-book, but even if you pay for the 3G service through AT&T, it's doesn't make much sense to purchase a game over 3G. The two data packages available at launch are a 250 MB package for $15 per month, and a 3 GB package for $30. Now, a smaller PSP game, like Killzone Liberation takes up over 500 MB, so it would be impossible to download on the budget plan. Additionally, one of the top tier Vita games, like Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 clocks in at a whopping 1.6 GB, which would suck away over half of the expensive plans bandwidth, and over 3G would take days to complete, hence the reason for entry number four on this list.
4. A 4G Wireless Radio
Turn on the TV, and most likely in a 30 minute viewing period you will be hit with at least two commercials advertising 4G wireless service from one of the major telecom carriers. That being said, why would Sony, in releasing what could be its last hurrah in the portable market, put out dated and certainly underpowered technology like 3G wireless in its portable juggernaut? Of course, there are many possible reasons, the two that come to mind the most are cost and battery life. Wireless companies are still charging a premium for 4G devices, many of them costing as much or more than the Vita. Secondly, it's widely known that 4G wireless radios suck power down in a flash. My wife has a 4G phone which gets minimal use throughout the day, and she generally gets a whopping 8 hours of battery use before running dry. Judging by entry 3 on this list, a 4G radio in the Vita would make the battery last about as long as a gallon of gas in a Hummer.
3. A Battery That Lasts the Day
One thing I have always been fond of with the Nintendo DS was the battery life. A single charge could get you an entire day of play for the most part. While the PSP could never come close to those marks without an extended battery, most users were still able to get 6 hours or more off of a single charge. The Vita however is a different monster. While I have not personally had a ton of time to test the Vita, Sony themselves says that we can expect about 3-5 hours from a full charge, depending on which features we use. The problem is, Sony designed the Vita to have a battery that was not user replaceable, so that means for users unwilling to perform invasive surgery on their Vita, no replacement batteries, and no extended batteries. The question is, how long will the factory installed battery last, particularly for heavy users of the Vita?
2. Use the Camera I Paid For
Ok, this is an easy one, and I expect to be eating crow in a few months, but why isn't the front facing camera being utilized for video chat? With applications and services like Apple's Face Time and the built in video chat for Google +, it should be relatively simple to get some kind of video chat added to the Vita. What would make this better would be to integrate with one of the other popular providers, like Skype or the aforementioned Google service. I would feel a whole lot better as an adult owner of the Vita if I could use it to say, see my children while on a business trip, without having to pony up the cash to buy a second one. Additionally, the gratifications of not only hearing your victim curse your name, but to actually see their anguish would add a whole new level of fun to pwnage. That being said, this is a SIMPLE fix, and one I expect to see in the future.
1. Let Me Do Something With My Old Games
First off, kudos to Sony for releasing so many PS One Classics to the PSN Store. It's truly awesome to relive some of the classics from yesteryear, at generally reasonable prices. But as a notorious video game pack rat, I would love to do something with the stack of discs I have collecting dust from my old PlayStation days. Yes, I know I can play them on my PS3, and that's pretty cool, but would I would love is to be able to "rip" them and copy them over to my Vita.
I know there are a lot of problems with this. First off, at launch, it's not possible to transfer PS One Classic games to the Vita, something that Sony has specifically mentioned they are working on correcting. But how hard would it be to allow the PS3 or a computer to rip and transfer a game to the Vita? From a technological standpoint, it wouldn't be hard at all. Of course, the big bear of it all would be licensing. The thing is, it's pretty safe to say that most PS One games are generally used as coasters these days. There are few games of that era that are still coveted, and it's pretty easy to see which ones are. But as someone who has purchased Castlevania: Symphony of the Night twice already, I'm not willing to do it again. However, if I could pop my original disc in my PS3 and copy it over, I would be thrilled, and I would even be willing to pay a dollar or two. Of course, there really isn't much to stop me from handing my PS One disc to a friend for him to do the same. But I'm sure that with a little creative thinking, Sony could find a way for something useful to be done with the games of yesteryear.
Additionally, with the processing power of the Vita, it wouldn't be difficult at all to have PlayStation 2 compatibility as well. Of course the numbers of valuable properties in the PS2 library are far greater, but imagine the amount of money Sony and other developers could make, just by charging small fees to convert your PS2 collection into a Vita collection. It's creative ways like this that could help the developers when it comes to the used game market, a market that many developers are striving to destroy.