How The PlayStation Vita TV Could Change Everything

PS Vita TV

With the announcement of the PS Vita TV, Daily Reaction’s Sebastian Moss and Dan Oravasaari discuss what the point of the device is, if people should pick it up, and what it means for the handheld Vita.

Dan: When I first saw the announcement for PS Vita TV, I wasn’t really sure how to take it, and I got the feeling that most of the internet probably felt the same way, so let’s break down what it does exactly.

Currently it is only set for release in Japan on November 14th, so anyone looking to pick one up might have to import or wait to see what they meant by saying it’s out in ‘Japan first’, which should be a good indicator for us to see it in the future. The device is simply a microconsole that is capable of playing Vita titles, both retail and digital, with the full capabilities of the system’s features like PSN friendslists and the ability to stream video content like Hulu. This makes it basically like a Vita that you play on a TV using the DualShock controller, which is both an excellent concept and a hotbed for concern.

The Vita has been touted as the most fully-featured handheld ever, but as we see a transition from the mobile space to the home market, the implementation of a controller might end up handicapping it. Since it will be using the DualShock 3 at launch, the system will have an obvious compatibility issue with games that use the touch capabilities for the system, which is the reason for the system not working with a number of titles. Hopefully, after the launch of the PS4 and the DualShock 4, the front touch capabilities of it may somehow improve compatibility with a wider number of titles.

Looking at some of the games on the list that aren’t going to be compatible with Sony’s PS Vita TV, it really does show just how much they are going to have to shoehorn this product into the market. Games like Uncharted, Killzone, Tearaway, Gravity Rush, Wipeout, Zero Escape, LittleBigPlanet and Rayman Legends will not be usable at launch, perhaps ever, meaning a number of its already limited major titles are going to be cut. Sony should be able to patch a few games to eventually work without the touch features, but isn’t going to be a problem that goes away in the future, especially if they want to actually utilize the Vita’s touch functions.

Thankfully, the Vita TV will still be able to support more than 100 Vita titles at launch, as well as play compatible PS1 and PSP games, meaning fans looking at the device will still have plenty of options. One of the biggest features that is to come to the device after the PS4 launches is the ability to remotely play your PS4 games on a different TV than the one your console is hooked up to. Of all of the features available on the Vita TV, this could be the game changer that people are hoping it would be, if they are able to execute it properly over your home network. PS fans who haven’t found a reason to pick up Sony’s handheld, but want the PS4 cross-room functionality, will find themselves opening up a library of titles that they didn’t originally have.

Seb: Yeah, this is an incredibly exciting, and surprising announcement, and one where I can’t wait to see what it leads to.

If the Vita was doing well, I’d think this was a dangerous idea that fragments the Vita market and one that will force future developers to ignore both the touch pads on the handheld. But, with the sales of the Vita as they are, I don’t mind that it’ll hurt the touch pads as long as it helps the platform.

Honestly, I don’t think this microconsole should be called the PlayStation Vita TV, but rather the PlayStation TV. It shouldn’t have the baggage of the Vita brand, and it shouldn’t confuse people by being called a Vita while not playing most of the AAA Vita games.

Another issue is that it doesn’t have much onboard memory. It launches with 1GB, which doesn’t allow you to download most games, as many even reach 3GB and patches are often over a gig. So, realistically you have to buy a few extra things – a larger memory card (still too costly) and a DualShock 3 if you’re new to the PS family.

Assuming the price is the same in the West, that’s $99 for the base version, or $150 for one that comes with a DualShock 3 and 8GB memory card (which still isn’t big enough). That means the price does start to creep up if you want the full experience.

But enough negativity. The PS Vita TV could be a big deal. A very big deal.

Microconsoles have been a buzzword ever since the Ouya arrived on the scene, but that’s not what this will combat – the Ouya was always destined for failure. This is the ultimate entry level gaming device that offers a substantial game library from a strong gaming brand as well as the standard slate of multimedia applications (and perhaps Sony’s cable TV killer and planned PS-exclusive programs) all for around the same price as an Apple TV or a Roku device. That’s incredible.

Apple held their big press conference today and yet again failed to make the Apple TV more feature packed, so the PS Vita TV is easily the best device at its price point. With the right marketing, which is sadly always a concern with Sony, this could appeal to a significant number of occasional gamers, poorer gamers, and those just looking for a good multimedia device.

Then there’s of course the PS4 remote play functionality that makes it an added bonus for PlayStation faithfuls. Not only that, in the future we will almost-definitely see Gaikai cloud streaming support, which will mean people will be able to play PS3/PS2 games (and later PS4 games) on a tiny $99 machine. Yet again, that’s incredible.

I’m not surprised that the PSVTV isn’t launching is the West this year, it could just cause confusion with the PS4 launch. But I do hope they don’t wait too long. With the Amazon Console, a rumored Google Console and Apple potentially cooking something up, the space will likely get crowded with some very big players pretty soon.

Some sites have already declared the PS Vita TV as the next big thing. Sadly, it’s not there just yet, there are far too many unknowns, and a lot of its mass appeal relies on Sony’s marketing team. But it’s off to a good start – the product sold out almost immediately on Amazon Japan, the price is awesome, the games line-up is impressive, self publishing will allow for a large slate of indie titles moving forward, and streaming will make it a micro-PS4.

It has the potential to radically change the size of the PlayStation family – but only if Sony play their cards right.


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