There’s all kinds of speculation on the future of handheld gaming consoles, from investors calling for Nintendo to license their IPs to mobile phone game devs, the PSPGo’s total failure, and the recent 3DS price cut.
So at this point, all eyes will be on the forthcoming PSP Vita, which is hitting Japan at the end of this year, and the rest of the world in early 2012. According to GamesIndustry, two developers from Heavy Iron Studios (makers of UFC Personal Trainer), have decided to offer their opinions that Sony’s latest handheld is doomed.
“”With all due respects to Sony and Vita, it’s a car wreck,” Matthew Seymour is quoted as saying.
The studio’s president, Lyle Hall, explains Seymour’s view in detail:
“If people aren’t willing to pay $249 for a Nintendo 3DS why would they pay $299 for Vita? People don’t want to carry more than one thing in their pocket, that’s why Android and iPhone have done so well, they are the devices of choice, they offers multiple functions outside of gaming… The technology is sweet, I’m a huge fan of mobile technology, but I just don’t know there’s a market out there anymore for the hardware. I can’t see why you would want to put a device out that only does games.”
Personally, I think that Hall makes a good point, but also misses a few key points as well. One of the key reasons (if not the MAIN reason) that the 3DS has failed to capture the market so far is the utter dearth of games the system can play. The best games that are out for the system are 3D ports of games we’ve played for other systems—Legend of Zelda and Super Street Fighter IV, I’m looking in your direction. Having just bought the 3DS last week thanks to an early price drop at Target, the only game I own is New Super Mario Bros., the DS game from 2006. The fact that I couldn’t find a game to drop thirty or forty bucks on that I felt really confident about says a lot about the system’s shoddy and non-existent library.
I do agree that carrying one device total is one of the great benefits of my Android phone, but I still carry my laptop even though the phone has a slide-out keyboard, word processor, and web-browser. The laptop just does these things better. Handheld game systems play games better, too. they just need to have good games worth playing. Peggle‘s fun and all, but NSMB is goddamn addictive.
Sony says that the reason for the Vita’s early 2012 release date is to make sure they’ve got a solid-enough launch library to justify its existence. And while I agree that a three-hundred dollar price tag is too high, it’s conceivable that if the software’s there, gamers will adopt the hardware.
Obviously the Vita and the 3DS can offer things that mobile games can’t. It’s up to developers to create good, must-have software to drive these hardware sales. I’m all for calling out a bad idea, but I’m not sure the Heavy Iron folks have got their priorities right.