Will the PS Vita regain the mobile gaming industry?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| February 18, 2012

This Wednesday, February 22nd, marks the landing date for the PlayStation Vita, the newest handheld gaming device from Sony. It's a beast of a device, there's no doubt about that, and it should bring a whole new world of mobile gaming into the world, which gamers should be happy about. Of course, we've talked about how the PS Vita, and even Nintendo's 3DS, may or may not make an impact on the mobile gaming market at all, and with the Vita launching in the States I guess we will really be able to judge that soon enough. But, when we are judging those types of things later this year, as we inevitably will be, I'm wondering if it will come down to quality at all.

And I don't mean in the games in general, but what it will come down to for the consumers. Will it be ease of use and accessibility? Or will it come down to the content, graphics and playability? Or, maybe even just battery life. These are questions that developers for both platforms, or for just one, have to be asking themselves.

When it comes to gaming on your smartphone, it's about having it right there, ready to go whenever you want it. In most cases your smartphone is probably the only thing you've got on you, and you use it for your music, movies, gaming, and everything else. That's the way it's supposed to be. But, now that we're not dealing with small discs, and even games that can be downloaded right to the device, we can't really say that the Vita doesn't have accessibility to games.

Of course, while we're talking about content and quality, we have to talk about pricing, too. For the most part, games you can download on your smartphone are relatively cheap. There are some games that are outliers, the titles that are usually based on old console titles, and have a lot of sentimental value. Those games probably peak at $15, but that's as high as I've seen them go. (We're talking about just games here, not general apps like turn-by-turn navigation, which is next to highway robbery.) But games for the Vita range from $30 to $50, depending on the developer and title, so that's obviously already more expensive.

But those developers, and especially Sony, would tell you that increased price is due to the game itself, and the content therein. And let's face it, no one can really argue that. If we tried to compare, say, Street Fighter IV Volt to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, there wouldn't actually be much to compare other than the fact that they are fighting games. The content and depth within the latter title is bar-none better than what's available in Volt.

And that comes down to the power of the device, I think. The Vita is a beast, while mobile devices are powerful in their own right, the Vita is literally designed to make games look good, as well as provide as close to a console-based experience as you can get on the go. The Vita does that, sure, but there's just one big, glaring problem.

The mobile market isn't capitalized by gamers. Sure, they're out there there's no doubt about that, but they certainly don't make up the majority. Because of that, I can't help but think that mobile gaming is going to get a weird, perverted view in those analytics we talked about earlier. I think the gamers out there would really prefer to play the more in-depth titles, the games that offer more meat for the money. Because money is money, no matter how "little" the amount is.

I know that for me, personally, I want a PS Vita because of the games. Because I know that when I buy a title for the Vita, I know that there's going to be several hours of entertainment in there. And not just because it's a repetitive, addictive game. But because it's addictive due to its depth, imagery, and controls.

I love all of the mobile games I've downloaded for my phones, but none of them compare to the fully-featured titles that are available on the Vita. But, what about you? Would you prefer to keep your gaming on your smartphone? Or are you thinking about picking up the Vita?

image via Joystiq