Games on the PlayStation Vita and where Sony went wrong

I’ve now had my Vita for over a week and have had a chance to buy some games – both from the PlayStation Store and physical versions from a shop. During the course of this I’ve been frustrated at the lack of thought that appears to have gone into this.

Let’s start with an obvious question – why is Sony still selling physical copies of games? Why aren’t they all downloadable (as they would be if you were using a Smartphone – their competition these days)?

Well, the reason I’ve bought physical copies is for 3 reasons…

  1. The price of the Sony Vita memory cards means that it becomes expensive to download them and store them yourselves
  2. You can re-sell physical copies, unlike downloads
  3. The online copies are more expensive, even though they involve no physical shops or packaging

Of course, a physical copy means that each game card I have to take with me – having it built into the Vista would have been a real boon, and one of the advantages that smartphone gamers have.

The re-sell issue is not a great one and if the 3rd issue was resolved it wouldn’t be too great a problem. Why are the online versions more expensive?

There’s probably still a need for physical copies but why not make them more expensive than the online equivalents – that will move people more towards those unless they really have a need for a physical version. It will also mean that the re-sell value will come into it less. Or how about this for a barn-storming idea – trade-ins for downloaded games? Get bored of the game, delete it and get a portion of your money back.

Lastly, let’s tackle that stupid problem with the memory cards. Why have Sony done it? Proprietary, expensive memory cards. With Sony profits dwindling and a history of customers hating this kind of thing, why would they do this? They’ve already stopped doing this on their phones, for instance – first they started using Micro SD cards for storage and then swapped to Micro USB for connection. Now the Vista comes out with it’s own proprietary port and a brand new card format. It’s stupid. Sony are stupid.

Sony are aware that they need to target more than just the hardcore gamer with this machine but I think they’ve missed another trick. A further frustration I’ve found with the games is a complete lack of instructions – the physical copies don’t come with a paper manual but each game, wherever it was sourced, comes with an electronic one. However, I’ve yet to find out that isn’t 99% T&Cs and safety guide followed by 1% of story. Assistance with the game is nill. Examples include Wipeout 2048 and Super Stardust Delta. The latter was purchased from the store, as many games are exclusive to that – I bought one that comes with extra features. However, the download was small and the game didn’t install. It would seem – I think – that it simply unlocks the game and extras in the store – they have to be downloaded separately. Not that this was documented anywhere, this is just from my own investigation.

The game menu, as well as an electronic manual, also has an internet link – maybe I’ve been unlucky but every time I’ve tried one, rather than send me to a useful web page run by the game publishers, it’s instead performed a Google search for the name of the game – not very useful!

So, I downloaded the Stardust package which installed and added the game. I then downloaded the “extras” package which downloaded and… nothing. Is it supposed to. I start the game… do I have the extras that I paid extra for? No idea.

Why is the “Online” button on the front screen of the game greyed out? Is that normal? All of this I have no idea about because the manual has no detail on this at all. A quick Google and it appears the same is being discussed in forums – nobody appears to know.

Why is this Sony’s fault? Because they control game distribution and packaging and their name is splashed all over the start of every game. They have the ability to set a minimum standard – a standard that, at the moment, is severely lacking.

Talk to me!

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