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One year later: the arduous, unimpressive journey of the PS Vita

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Posted by: David Sanchez

It's hard to believe that it's been an entire year since the North American launch of the PlayStation Vita. The reason that's so hard to believe is because, quite frankly, over the course of the past 365+ days, we've gotten enough games to only justify a month or two of worthwhile Vita gaming. That's not to say that Sony's handheld doesn't have some notable experiences available to its consumers. The Vita is a powerful device with some great selections, but sadly, it's really lacking in terms of appeal and content.

Off the top of my head, Gravity Rush, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack are three of the more solid exclusive titles on the Vita. Granted, there are several incredible games, including personal favorites of mine, such as Sound Shapes and Retro City Rampage. The caveat with these impressive games, however, is that they're not Vita exclusives. Games like PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time certainly warrant some praise due to their cross-play functionality. If I had a choice, though, I'd much rather play these games on my big screen HD TV than on the Vita's OLED screen, which is lovely but still much smaller than pretty much every TV screen out there.

Unimpressed Reggie

This is Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, who clearly doesn't care about the Vita. Just look at his face. He does not care.

Aside from some cool cross-play titles, the reasons to buy a Vita are still damn near nonexistent. So where does this fault fall? Well, if we're being totally honest, it's easy to see that Sony hasn't marketed the Vita appropriately. Prior to its PlayStation 4 reveal, the manufacturer released a series of videos that looked back on the history of PlayStation. Things like viral marketing and intelligent campaigns were dubbed the core of the success of legacy consoles like the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. Remember when Crash Bandicoot was talking mad sh*t outside of the Nintendo offices? Sony was hungry for success, and it earned it. The Vita, though, could be called anything but a success.

This lack of proper marketing has been the downfall of the Vita since day one. It's impossible to care about a gaming platform when it seems as though the company trying to sell it to us doesn't even care. In case you're wondering, no, reminding us every once in a while that the Vita exists in interviews does not count as provocative marketing. I can only handle so much talk about how “the Vita's selling a bit lower than expected, but we're refocusing our efforts on it.” No, Sony, you're not.  If the company really wanted to sell a few more units, it would lower the price of the damn thing and announce some new and original games.

Vita Sales (Symbolism)

This picture properly sums up the sales success of the Vita.

I don't currently own a Vita, and I'm glad I wasn't one of the few people who picked up the device at launch. I would feel really gypped if I was one of those folks. There's clearly a lack of games on the portable, and the price tag is ridiculously steep given the circumstances. There's really no reason to shell out upwards of $300 for something that doesn't offer a different enough experience from what consumers are already getting from their PlayStation 3 consoles. The thing that draws me to the 3DS is that it's vastly different from the Wii and Wii U. It has an original library of games, unique features, and games that are fit for play on a smaller screen. The Vita on the other hand, is a handheld that's technically impressive but uninteresting in what it offers to consumers. As far as gaming on a handheld is concerned, I'll take Super Mario 3D Land over Street Fighter X Tekken any day.

It would be easy to simply ignore the Vita and get on with my life, as opposed to ranting about how it's essentially a failed piece of technology. The fact remains, however, that I would actually love for the Vita to succeed. It would be absolutely great if Sony's handheld was able to go head-to-head with Nintendo's dual screen portable, but it can't; sales reflect that as much as they reflect the fact that the Vita is a commercial flop. Nowhere is this more evident than in Japan, where it seems as if sales plummet on a weekly basis. Given how much the Japanese market has cared about the PSP, you'd think consumers would follow suit with the Vita. That's not the case, and that's once again due to the lack of smart marketing and worthwhile experiences.

Zeb Colter's Mustache

Zeb Colter's mustache is more impressive than Vita hardware sales.

Let me reiterate something: I don't hate the Vita -- there's no reason for me to feel that way over a video game platform. That said, it saddens me that such a cool device can't be delivered properly to the consumer. There's so much that can be done with the Vita. Nintendo has managed to excel at utilizing touchscreens with its devices. Sony could very well do the same and put that screen to good use. Additionally, not everything needs to be cross-platform. For folks like me who don't spend large amounts of time away from a gaming console, this feature is practically useless. If I'm going to game on a handheld, I'd much rather some original content that takes advantage of the exclusive capabilities of the device.

With the announcement of the PlayStation 4 comes plenty of potential for some new connectivity. Let's hope that's not all we get, though. The Vita has thus far been an embarrassing endeavor, but as Sony moves forward, it can take the Vita along with it. This is a device that doesn't need to be a portable PlayStation 3, yet that's all it really is, and it's suffered because of that. I'm at the point where I'd much rather spend $300 on cool facial hair implants than on a Vita. At least that way I would get exactly what I wanted and not feel like a sucker for wasting my money on a thing I have no use for. Plus, a cool mustache is something I don't currently possess. I don't exactly have any use for two copies of PlayStation All-Stars.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

Tags: PS Vita, PlayStation, Sony

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