Vita: Sorry, Smartphones Can't Do This
I've spent about four full days with the PlayStation Vita; if you haven't already, feel free to read up on my early impressions.
A full report card will be issued for Sony's new portable a little after the official launch, but here are a few points of interest for my fellow gamers:
Firstly, how the Vita fits into my gaming life. Initially, I was fairly certain it wouldn't have much of a position at all; as indicated in my impressions piece, I've never really been into handheld entertainment. But I've realized that, contrary to when the PSP came out, I actually want to sit down and play some games on the Vita. Not for work purposes, not because I'm trying out a gimmick, and not because I don't have anything to play on the PS3 (which I do).
No, for the first time in a long time, I'm actually playing games on a handheld because I want to play those games. It has nothing to do with being bored; it has nothing to do with being out of options. And that leads me to my second and possibly most important point-
Last month, I got a smartphone for the first time. Now, at no point have I passed on playing real games on the PS3 to sit down and fiddle with apps on my phone. I'd rather do a lot of things than sit down and play those little games on my phone. It's true that when I leave the house, I'm probably only going to bring the phone with me, but that's mostly because I never have far to go and I'm usually driving. It's also true that the phone is more of a necessity (although smartphones can be classified as luxury, certainly).
But that's exactly my point. You may note I used the term "real games" above; that was not to insult the fun little experiences on a phone, it was to indicate a very clear difference between that form of entertainment and what we have on our consoles. But there are such games on the Vita. That's entirely the point. I'm a gamer, not a gadget freak. It seems stupidly simple but I'm only just realizing now that I really like the Vita because I like video games, and that's what the Vita has. My smartphone does not.
Sure, technology advances rapidly and perhaps at some point down the road, a smartphone will have something like Uncharted: Golden Abyss or Wipeout 2048. But as of right now, it's not even close. Those who have seen the Vita already will tell you it's not even in the same universe. And that's exactly the angle Sony needs to take when marketing this thing; they have to convince the general public that no, this isn't really competition for smartphones or tablets, it's the top portable gaming device on the market.
And that's why the Vita will probably be in frequent rotation in my gaming habits...something I really, really didn't expect.
2/17/2012 Ben Dutka