PlayStation Plus. The Instant Game Collection allows you to download the likes of Gravity Rush, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Wipeout 2048 (all full games like the ones you can still buy at retail) and more in exchange for a yearly subscription fee. The same fee that you might already be paying for your PS3 account. It’s shared too, so if you do own a PS3 with PSPlus, you’re effectively just getting a load of free games and discounts on new Vita software for nothing more than you were already paying.
It's a 3DS-trumping ace up the Vita's sleeve, but that metaphor highlights the current problem beautifully. It's so far up that sleeve, it's invisible to anyone who isn't already sitting at the poker table. The service's perks are only really visible to those who already have the system, so the model is all wrong. To the uninitiated, it's irrelevant what cheap gaming delights await those who step through the door of Vita ownership. A cheaper base price is needed to get people through that door, because the current base price is arguably providing the biggest barrier to entry.
I said at the start of this article that PS3 was the other console that had turned its fortunes around. Like Vita, PS3 arrived comparatively late to the party compared to its main rival, both initially suffered from a lack of high-quality exclusives (though I’ve said before that the great Vita games are there if you make the effort to find them) and both suffered less than favourable treatment from most third-party developers.The 3DS suffered two of those three problmes in its early life, but that machine's doing fine now.
If Nintendo has taught us anything, it’s that you increase the user base by dropping the price. On Black Friday, Twitter was full of people picking up the $199 Assassin’s Creed Vita bundle. Why? Because that was a fantastic deal by anyone’s standard. Making the purchase of a PlayStation Vita feel like that great a deal on any regular day should... nay will set everything straight again. This could be the turning point. But the price drop needs to come soon.
Even if PS4's Gaikai-powered remote play invigorates sales again, that's months away. If third-party publishers' interest is piqued after that, any games commissioned will likely take a year to develop. So we could be looking at things being good for Vita in two years' time.
That's not good enough. The price needs to change and it needs to change now.
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