Visualise the following image in your mind: a PS Vita being violently hurled against a wall and shattering into a thousand tiny pieces. Got it all pictured inside your brain sack? Good. Now consider this. That image is a metaphor. The PS Vita represents not just one PS Vita, but the collective fortunes of every PS Vita ever - the whole thing, the product. The wall represents a solid, immovable attitude of complete indifference. And the thousand tiny pieces? They are the broken dreams of failure.
Above: A giant kitten infiltrated my mental image. I don't know if it's a metaphor for anything
Since having a Vita and showing it off to people, I have been alarmed and shocked and alarmed again by just how many folks don't give a shit for it. I say to people: "Look! Look here at this amazing thing that you can hold in your hands and use to play amazing games!" But this - far too often - is greeted with a shrug of the shoulders and an apathetic look of, like, whatever, man. Most of that apathy is clearly a symptom of Vita being a new PSP. And a lot of gamers simply don't care about a new PSP.
There are so many similarities between PSP and its new, smarter sibling that it feels like a re-run, a repeat, like we're going through the launch of Sony's first handheld all over again. The tech's amazing. The screen's amazing. The games look amazing. And so on. But despite the superlatives, this déjà vu association is not altogether a good thing. In fact, it's a bad thing.
Never mind that PSP sold well in its own right (70 million and counting), ask someone about PSP and - for all its promise and potential - they'll tell you about an also-ran that never escaped the shadow of Nintendo's DS. A machine that didn't have enough decent games. A proprietary media format that bombed. A console that gathered dust. Whether these things are true or not is irrelevant - this is how PSP is perceived by a majority of gamers. It's little surprise that the attitude towards Vita is 'Been there. Done that. Not really arsed about doing it again.'
We ran a poll on GamesRadar a few weeks back asking 'Are you going to get a PS Vita?' These are the results:
As you can see with your own eyes, 'Maybe' got the most votes, which conveniently backs-up what I'm talking about. Sony still hasn't convinced a large number of gamers that its next little black beauty is a must-have machine. At this stage it's still nothing more than a 'maybe'.
Consider also that only 26% of people are so confident in Vita that they're picking one up on launch day and it shows just how far Sony still has to go to win those all important hearts and minds of the money-spending public. And the weekly news of poor early Vita sales in Japan isn't exactly helping that battle.
Yes, I've heard plenty of reasons why gamers aren't getting a Vita, like:
- It's too expensive
- I'm happy gaming on my >insert name of other mobile device here
- The proprietary memory cards are a rip-off
- The battery life is terrible
- I'm not interested in playing ported versions of PS3 games
Gamers certainly aren't short of reasons not to own a Vita. But these reasons are largely a consequence of the negative mindset - ammunition for the pessimists who, thanks to the perceived fortunes of PSP, have already decided Vita is doomed. But if Sony can - over time - show gamers that it has learnt from its first toe-dipping into handheld waters and Vita is not making the same mistakes all over again, those reasons will become less and less of an issue.
Above: Bit harsh, but for some gamers the perception is that PSP belongs in the bin
Above all else, Sony needs to make sure Vita rapidly stockpiles a solid library of impressive games. Games from the simple and affordable single-finger diversions, through to the triple-A top-tier titles that are worth top dollar. Games that turn heads. Games that get Vita noticed and elevate its status to object of desire. Sony cannot afford for Vita to lose momentum in the same way the PSP did. If that happens, it will only confirm to those 'maybe gamers' that their purchasing abstinence is the correct decision.
So, to wrap it all up. PS Vita is amazing. I know that because my hands have been occupied with not a lot else this year. My 3DS has hardly had a look in and I've been playing so much Wipeout I can hardly see straight anymore. If Vita gets the right support and gamers are given enough reasons to give a shit, Sony's spec-sexy wide-boy should be a success. But there are a lot of cynical punters tinged by the PSP 'flop' out there that need convincing. And if Sony can't manage that, Vita could end up being a very expensive failure.
Or it could just do OK. But that's not very interesting to write about.