It's been around a year since the PlayStation Vita was officially announced during a press conference in Japan, with western media getting an extended hands-on experience during E3 2011. It has since launched in Japan, with North American and European gamers not able to sample it for themselves until its release on the 22nd of February, 2012. But despite it not even being out yet, the console has already had its fair share of ups and downs. It started off with leaks aplenty and during its current phase, we're seeing a distinct amount of reservation due to its Japanese sales.
Indeed, sales have been a bit of a dampener, and not just from the PlayStation Vita's Japanese launch. When the Nintendo 3DS launched, that wasn't selling all that well either, and people expected the Vita to follow the same fate. The 3DS picked up though and now people are saying there's no way the Vita can compete.
Enough about that though, as the PlayStation Vita has plenty to offer in the short term, but also the long term - in theory. Lest we forget that the PlayStation Portable was quite similar. It has some pretty decent launch titles, but the real system sellers didn't come until later down the line. Where would the PSP really have been without solid support from Capcom and Square Enix?
It's also great to see that Sony are taking their second generation handheld device much more seriously. The amount of games available at launch is pretty astounding. There are more games from Sony than there are for most launches all together and when you pile in the amount of third-party content too, there isn't a great deal to complain about.
Sony has also done well with their selection. While the third-party developers have pumped for the tried and tested, Sony are pushing some new IPs alongside their existing franchises which they hope will allow the system to appeal to people right off the bat. That could be the PS Vita's main problem though, appeal.
The PS Vita is a pretty cool piece of kit. It's got a high fidelity screen, dual analogue stick as standard, the cool rear touch-panel and sumptuous graphics for what it is. However, while the launch line-up is great, does it have the appeal to warrant a purchase? To some degree yes, but I get the feeling a lot of people will hold off as they wait for the price to drop, or they wait for the library of games to grow. We saw it with the Nintendo 3DS. It wasn't exactly struggling, but it wasn't performing quite as well as Nintendo and its investors had expected. As a result, we saw a price cut and the announcement of games which Nintendo knew their audience wanted to see. This alone was enough to prompt increased sales - people were convinced the console had a future.
That right now is the PS Vita's main problem, the future. People know what it offers at present, but they don't know which direction Sony want to take it in. We know the launch line-up, but we know very little about what's in store further down the line - the same ambiguity plagued the Nintendo 3DS. Sony will have to be very careful with this too, as they won't want to pigeonhole themselves. Either way, it will be interesting to see if they truly have learnt from the PSP. While it did have some great games, a lot of them, especially early on, were just ports of PS2 games - it didn't come off all that great.
If the Vita is to do well, it has to do well in its own right. Sony has maintained that this time it's all about the games. But that's something they have to show. They have to provide top-notch gaming experiences, but they have to do it without having the safety net that Nintendo does. If a Nintendo console is struggling, they just pump out a new Mario game, a Zelda game and a Mario Kart game - then it's fine. What does Sony have as a fall-back? Who can they turn to if it doesn't go too well, because last generation it was third-parties and Capcom has already shown they have no allegiance with their Monster Hunter franchise.
I'm positive though. Sony won't want to see this venture fail. They've staked a lot of their reputation on its success, against the odds, and I believe they have the clout to carry it out. How exactly we get there, I'm not too sure, but I believe the PS Vita will be a strong console in the years to come for the hardcore game and that's why I'm psyched for the PS Vita.