Why I canceled my PlayStation Vita pre-order

Bill Loguidice's picture

Well, I did it, I canceled my $359.96 pre-order of the Sony PlayStation Vita - WiFi, ModNation Racers: Road trip, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and Hot Shots Golf on Amazon. It's not because it was too much money - it was - but I planned for it. It's not that I don't want it either - I do - but it simply doesn't make sense at this time. I have long gone on record - much to the chagrin of the Nintendo faithful - that I believe this is the last generational hurrah for dedicated gaming handhelds. In short, I believe they will still sell well this generation, just not anywhere near the heights of the last generation when the DS and PSP ruled the roost. I've given many reasons for this line of thinking, but I primarily chalk it up to smartphones and tablets being good enough as game machines and the inclination for most people to carry as few electronic devices as possible. In other words, would you rather have a device that does everything multimedia and Internet effortlessly (and, as a smartphone, makes phone calls and texts), and has inexpensive apps (and a great camera for stills and video, etc.), as well as plays good games, or would you rather have a device that plays really good games (thanks mostly to onboard physical controls), but is mediocre (or incapable) at everything else and has expensive apps? Some of us will have both, but many of us will only choose the most logical of the two. If you look at the issue without the emotion of a dedicated gamer, there really is no good argument for having anything other than a smartphone and maybe a tablet in your portable arsenal, particularly since the former has an excuse to be with you 100% of the time.

No doubt I got burned pre-ordering my 3DS. While I enjoy the system, not only did I pay much more than those who purchased it just a few months later (the free games mea culpa aside, particularly since you couldn't choose what you wanted), but I've found that a combination of lifestyle and general ennui at the game selection has caused me to play it far less than I hoped. Now, don't get me wrong, I think the 3D effect is great, it plays well, and I do own many games for it I like quite a bit, but there's nothing forthcoming that gets my gaming juices flowing, and things like a sluggish and sloppy digital downloads store tend to keep me away from impulse purchases most of the time. Mediocre battery life also preclude me from tossing it in my bag and playing it when an occasion arises (and I have not bothered to procure an extended battery pack for it at this time, though I do realize that is something I should probably do once I ensure full compatibility with the Circle Pad Pro). Among other sins in comparison to the standards set by most smartphones and tablets, neither the 3DS or Vita seem to have bothered with worrying about battery life greater than 3 hours or so. In short, a device with limited functionality that requires too much thought is a device that gets similarly limited usage.

Anyway, the launch fiasco with the 3DS and my general usage patterns with my busy adult lifestyle have caused me to follow the Japanese launch of the PlayStation Vita very closely. After all, Japan gives the 3DS more love than any other territory, and they were more gaga over the PSP than any other territory, so if the Vita doesn't excite over there, it probably won't excite anywhere else. While initial sales were good for the Vita in Japan in the first week, they fell off the cliff in the second week and beyond. Now, of course, this was due in part to low stock, but other factors include software issues and general apathy towards the game lineup, which is particularly distressing because as launch line-ups go, it's pretty darn solid. Certainly price - as Nintendo learned with the 3DS - is playing a factor as well--early adopters will pay almost anything, the trick is attracting mass sales beyond that exclusive group.

Of course, as a technology writer, enthusiast, and collector, I will own a Vita at some point, even if I only use it about the same I do the 3DS. It's undeniably very nice technology paired with some very nice games. Particularly since there's no TV out, I can't write a book on it (similar to the 3DS, if I can't capture clean screen images, I can't do a book on it) to justify owning it at any price, however. As such, I'll wait for the launch dust to settle like an average consumer (I don't think there will be massive sell-outs or shortages) and look for the best deal. It's very possible that Sony will have to pull a Nintendo and take some drastic measures to increase sales. If that happens, I'm definitely in.

By the way, to tie this all together, I will relate another reason why otherwise excellent handheld game systems like the 3DS and Vita will struggle and it's again related to smartphones and tablets. My daughters, 7 and 5, love their pink DS's. However, they also love our iPhone 4's and iPad 2's, certainly at least as much, and maybe even more if push came to shove. This is not surprising, because in many ways, those touchscreen devices are far more accessible than something like a device with physical controls could ever be. Touching what you see is simply more intuitive and easier, if not necessarily an ideal way to control every type of game. Now kids have always been a stronghold for dedicated gaming handhelds, but a combination of inherent technology, price, battery life, and arguably more attractive options in smartphones and tablets have minimized the potential impact of the 3DS and Vita on that audience. That combined with the remarkably quick evolutionary progression of smartphones and tablets that dedicated gaming handhelds can't match (combined of course, with the inevitability of hand-me-downs) because they need to be stable for at least a five year generational period, puts them at a serious disadvantage. Certainly Nintendo is not doing themselves any favors by the DS series still being an attractive alternative - particularly and especially with the younger set - over the 3DS. At least that's not something Sony has to worry about with the Vita and its predecessor the PSP, though they have the bigger problem of finding a large enough target audience for the Vita, period.

Comments

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Nintendo just learned it,

Nintendo just learned it, SONY hasnt yet.. $300 for a very easy to break toy is about $200 to much. And yes the advent of $.99 cent games on almost any portable device hasnt helped. $150 is about the breaking point IMHO.. The market has changed and Sony/nintnedo have just kept on turning a blind eye reliving he glory days and EXPECTING support. Vita can provide a pretty compelling game play experiance.. but when Handheld first came out they had OK battery life, tehy are all pretty bad now (none of the color ones do.. heck the phones dont really) and on the go gaming was NEW and differnt.. and console gaming was even a differnt animal. Things have changed so much.. I look at Vita and its just PSP Plus.. it looks the same.. yes its improved speed wise/ video and even control wise. But when i see it i ask , why is it worth 2X the price of the PSP? I dont see it. I really think in the end Nintendo might beat the horse into the gruond and be the last handhelpd maker, but SONY is soon goign to give up (and when i say that.. maybe 2 more Handheld flops away, 5 more years about) of course all this packing alot into a small place is good for research.. and Im guessing SONY will be the first to get a really nice phone/system out.. not the crap that was Xpira.. but something actyually good. Xpira was interesting.. but IMHO failed becuase it wasnt compatible with the PSP.. If they make soemthing that can play PSP games and a phone.. it might make it. Of course by the time it does.. wil the PSP the VIta be even considered game systems that are worth having? Heck the Xpira with a app store full of PSone and ps2 games that cost under $5 each would be huge IMHO... never happen but.. it could be a killer phone/game system. Side note i see ALOT of the HP pads on craigslist .. for .. under $200 .. so that craze must ahve died out when they dried up. I have even seen XOOMS at retrail for $329... was a close out.. not common. I know there has been alot of talk about one of teh china Andorid tablets.. its $129 , duel core , 16Meg and runs Icecream (out in jan in US already out over there).. the prevouis one runing Gingerbread has been quite hot and sells out all the time at $99 and has pretty good review for a cheap tab. sory cant rember the name.Aion Adia.. something like that.

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Yes my comment on controls is

Yes my comment on controls is very much the person and not as much the device. I have been horribly slow to adapt to the new consoles purely on a control issue side.

Nintendo.. err.. maybe companies in Japan (heck all over ).. are getting out of touch. TO many years of them decidening what we wanted.. and us accepting it. At one time they could, and much like record companies, phone companies (land line) the post office... they have seen the future train speeding at them while they stood on the tracks and they kept saying , it will derail before it hits us, we control the tracks.. but it wont.. They will adapt or get run over and limp along painfully untill they are done. I dont think he is stupid, but to read it, i think he maybe has bought into the fact that nintendo has such a great track record.. this is just a slip and all will right itslef again. The Wii was nintendos last great success i think. The Uplay.. its not enough.. but you gotta wonder if the PAD thing is a slight realisation where its going and making it part of the controler is some slight understanding.

davyK
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Joined: 05/21/2006
The Miyamoyo smart phone

The Miyamoyo smart phone thing doesn't really surprise me that much. Miyamoto-san is quite isolationist in his outlook - I can remember for example his stating in interviews that he doesn't really check out the competition as to what they are doing as it could distract him from what ideas he has. It has certainly worked for him up until now. If he is now looking at smartphones and tablets for their content and from a delivery platform point of view you can be sure that he will learn rather quickly - but I doubt there will be much "me too=ism" except where it matches their business model.

I agree with his ideas about these devices having different types of games and its great to hear about him trying to design games that will only be playable on dedicated devices - no matter what the impetus for that is for.

I've always been bemused by Nintendo's seemingly lag-behind attitude to online given that they were experimenting with it back in the famicom days....but they do seem to know what they are doing and they ride out slumps.

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
PS Vita sales = bad

I still genuinely want one at some point, but it really does have to pick up steam within the next half year in Japan or else it's pretty much doomed: http://vita.ign.com/articles/121/1217207p1.html?utm_campaign=twposts&utm... . I really do think we'll see price drops a la Nintendo 3DS sooner rather than later, which will definitely help...

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
I read that the Vita costs

I read that the Vita costs sony about $150 per unit.. so the price tag is a bit high. But there is more then parts to consider.. development and such.. so you cant just charge what it costs.. But at $150 per unit actual price, doubleing it sure seems harsh, a penelty to early adopters.. and the 3DS flop (at orginal price) maybe the people can win.. the price will go down.

it should be a warrning sign ot Sony, the handheld market is stronger there then anywhere.. but its such a differetn place then the rest of the world. Console players use the online services less then 5%... so PSnetwork and LIVE are basicly unused..

We keep saying it here... handhelds are dead, at least in the way they used to be.. they wil go on, but not they way they have been. There are so many things going agaisnt them now.. even if you skip the big ones (cell phones and tablets) companies can no longer make a game and cross platform it, make money on one and loss on others.. The handhelds are even worse then the consoles.. cross platforming is not easy in any sence of the word.

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Yes, I'm awful!

So, I ordered a Vita off of Amazon at Christina's urging (I think to throw me off the scent of getting that $2000 PC). While we're negotiating a possible book deal (it can take its own screenshots like a smartphone or tablet), even if that doesn't work out, I'll likely write my own book (ebook) anyway. Also, the Amazon pre-order deal (which ends, presumably, at midnight tonight) was too good to pass up. I got a PS Vita 3G/WiFi launch bundle and Amazon threw in an 8GB Memory Card, DataConnect Session Pass, and PlayStation Network Game, as well as a CTA Digital PS Vita Screen Protection Kit (which I doubt I'll use). I also took advantage of their buy two and get one free Vita game and got Uncharted, Rayman and Lumines. I wanted Hot Shots Golf and Modnation Racers way back when, but they seem to be a bit broken as launch titles, so I passed and got the other games instead.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
i checked out Army corps and

i checked out Army corps and Uncharted for a few hours tonight at Best Buy I see Army corps is getting horrible reviews but I enjoyed it.. Sacrifice or Overlord in a simpler form... Uncharted lives up to its console brothers as pretty much the best action adventure games on any system. Pretty cool, nothing i would put my money into (at this price).. but that's not for any other reason then i have bought so many others (handhelds) and NEVER played um past the first few weeks, i have slowed in buying toys i don't use (just games nowadays). For those who find time to check um out and actually play um.. I am impressed.. Depending on what comes out from here on out i like it. If i had to chose between it and the 3Ds... i would get the Vita.. but it far to early to see if the game can sustain the thing (from sales in japan.. i doubt it).. still very impressive piece of kit. One i would have if the price was about $100 less.. I look forward to your assessment when you have some time with it.

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Vita
clok1966 wrote:

I look forward to your assessment when you have some time with it.

Yeah, it looks like it probably won't arrive until the 27th, though the games should come by the 23rd. By the way, I agree with pretty much everything you said. I can't say I'm excited by the purchase (yet) oddly...

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
cool toy
Bill Loguidice wrote:
clok1966 wrote:

I look forward to your assessment when you have some time with it.

Yeah, it looks like it probably won't arrive until the 27th, though the games should come by the 23rd. By the way, I agree with pretty much everything you said. I can't say I'm excited by the purchase (yet) oddly...

it is a bit sad, i really like the unit, no mini disk, a cart type system (in looks at least) so you can SWAP games or buy used if oyu want. I liked the GO (with many reservations) with its digital downloads, but Digital is still not robust enough for a handheld as an ONLY thing.. memory being a real limitation.. on the go and I ant to play game x and game y and... hey that old game B.. oh ya i dont have B loaded..

Vita looks like the right combo.. at a still just out of reach price IMHO. And we have all discussed the way handheld gaming is going.. just to late in the game. I would be very interested at a $150 or so price point like the original PSP.. But on top of all that with its below average performace in Japan so far the real question is .. will there be more games later. I'm sure there are some in the pipe, and SONY will pump some stuff out.. but will anybody else? 11 million 3DS i hear (or course there is some major time differences here).. and right now the Vita has sold 2 millionish?

I honestly think SONY is out of touch PRICE WISE and quite probebly market wise too it seems, they have went on a PURE "or tech is better then your tech" selling point to beat nintendo (which "was" the other guy, and the guy they neede to beat at one time).

It is sad, when i look at it i see a pretty awsome piece of hardware but its the whole Betamax vs vhs.. one is higher qaulity, but in the end its content that matters, ease of use, price.. its a COMBO.

Still im a bit envious.. toys after all, even if pricey.. are what all us big kids want :) and you ahve one i dont :)

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Super early impressions

Sony PlayStation Vita 3G/Wi-Fi launch bundle and games

When I got home last night, I was struck by how small the game cases are. It's actually kind of a nice look. I did the initial setup last night, and that was about it (I'm trying to document as I go and get other things done as well). The touchscreen is very responsive (reminiscent of an iPhone or iPad), unlike the 3DS. Thus far, the screen looks nice, though I'm not as of yet blown away by the quality (I'm sure once I pop in a game or two, the quality will become evident). The funny part was that when I was doing the initial setup and entered my PlayStation ID, it wouldn't let me proceed until I updated the system software, so I had to finish the setup with no ID. I then went out of my way to go to Settings and downloaded the update, which ended up being a process all too similar to the sluggish PS3 process. So I essentially just let that run while I went to bed. Late tonight I'll enter my PSN credentials and play my first game.

I still think it desperately needs a price cut to at least $199 for the base model. Also, the model that I have, the 3G one, is a turkey (too many restrictions (and fine print) to go into at this time) that should have never seen the light of day. If the bundle didn't add up to a better deal, I would have never bothered, but it did. With all of the above in mind, there is a clear build quality/polish differential between the Vita and 3DS. The former is definitely more like we're used to on quality smartphones and tablets, while the latter is still something of a hybrid between that and the more toy-like experiences of the past. So certainly you can at least see the money Sony invested into the Vita and why they charge what they charge, but it still doesn't make the price sit well in comparison to the smartphone (albeit, subsidized in the US) and tablet markets. Honestly, I still believe the long term prospects of both the 3DS and Vita are questionable for a wide variety of reasons, so the time to collect loyal owners is NOW, not later. Nintendo was able to get the 3DS on track in time with a combination of price cuts and their usual IP-driven games, and, for better or worse, that's probably what Sony will need to do with the Vita to keep it somewhat competitive.

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