Friday, June 10, 2011
Sony deserves, I think, credit for at least being the company with enough muscle to trail Nintendo as the #2 handheld gaming platform. That might sound like a back handed complement, but the path leading up to the Gameboy, DS and 3DS is littered with technology which really couldn't even be considered a runner-up.
Having the Vita their big push now seems a bit like a product plan set in place years ago that nobody forgot to cancel. It's not the Vita is bad - in fact it looks like might actually be the most awesome handheld gaming device ever created by man. Someone has clearly been taking notes on the flaws of the PSP, PSP Go, etc. But even Nintendo is having a hard time keeping handheld gaming in their mighty grasp, with the 3DS falling behind the DS in sales and having little sign of picking up anytime soon. The cheaper DS still clobbered the 3DS last month (though the 3DS cremated the PSP, so...).
If this was last year, I could understand Nintendo and Sony's not having an appropriate response to the onslaught of smartphones and tablets coming out earlier this year. What's odd is that the Sony Experia, with PlayStation certification and a little title called Minecraft, seems a more intelligent response to the current mobile scene than the Vita.
However, all hope for the Vita is I think not lost. The PSP might not have the same size demographic as the DS, but Sony's mobile gamers are quite loyal and since the Vita is well designed ... Sony might be able to hit sales goals if they've been made rational and not overly optimistic. And Sony seems to have potentially outflanked Nintendo, whether it was intentional or not.
And it could be crippling to Nintendo.
I'll have more on the Wii U later, but let's assume Sony pushes harder for the kind of continous client, tight integration that the Vita has with the Ruin demo for the PS3. PSP tethering with the PS3 is already in the bag, and one has to wonder how hard it would be for Sony to replicate some of the Wii U's thunder. It would take what ... some fancy custom VNC software to play my Vita games on my HDTV with my PS3 as an intermediary? OK, so it would have to be some pretty fancy VNC ... but if Sony could steal some of Nintendo's features and position them as value adds for the Vita? That would be a serious win for Sony and potentially a serious blow to Nintendo.
Sony gets high points for showing off new games with new ideas as well. Microsoft's Kinect push is solid, but doesn't show much new innovation for the game. Sony demo'd several games I'm really looking forward to trying out, and much of it feels fresh and new.
But letting Microsoft walk away with a Minecraft exclusive? With Kinect? After all that ballywho about it being on the Experia? That's just embarrassing.