Vita is Hot!
The PlayStation Vita could do with more exposure (and a price cut, more original games, better third party support, more affordable memory cards etc.). With Christmas only two weeks away and Uncharted: Fight for Fortune now available to download, this is the ideal time to push hardware, software and the PlayStation brand.
Taking inspiration from the outstanding Vita commercials that have been running on TV the last few weeks, this is my proposal for the next Vita ad. I'm sure I'll hear back from Sony very shortly.
Muisc: We should use something very "now", mainstream yet edgy. Like Skrillex, but on X Factor.
Our opening shot is of a man sitting in a park wearing a colourful hoody. He is smiling like a mentalist and pointing at some other happy people. I suppose it wouldn't hurt if at least one of them were holding a Vita.
On the other side of the park, a white man in a low cut V-neck high fives a black fella, who then smiles at an Asian. Little Big Planet Karting.
Elsewhere, a man wearing suspenders and a belt, with a lime vest, is playing Buzz! or some shit like that. He is not holding the Vita properly, which is irrelevant as it's actually a PSP.
We switch to a real-life woman - it's not just men in colourful t-shirts who play video games - walking through central London playing her Vita, and cut away before she gets mugged. Children are milling about doing stuff (mugging?). None of these shots should last more than one second, which is the average attention span of our audience.
Next, we cut to a basketball court, where nobody is playing basketball. A male model gestures wildly at his friends to come see his Vita. Vita = fun with friends and euphoric gesturing. They look like a One Direction cover band but marginally more urban. Also: dubstep
One floppy haired knob from the above group throws himself into a slow motion forward flip, while playing Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified. He should be able to finish it before he hits the ground.
We don't have time to highlight the ready-made software library that comes with PS Plus, but that's not what people are interested in anyway.
Just enough time for one last catalogue model, furiously fingering the back panel of his Vita. He's probably playing Mario, or something like that.
Dubstep. PlayStation logo.
The audience should now be even more confused than when the ad started, four seconds ago, and 20% more likely to go out and buy an orange t-shirt. If that doesn't sell a shit load of Vitai, then I don't know what will.
Between embarrassing sales figures and increasingly sarcastic blog posts, it has been a tough year for the Vita. Price issues aside, many argue that its failure has been down to a lack of games, but I think that it has a decent sized library for a system still two months shy of its first birthday. It is not the quantity then, but rather the quality and type of games that are of concern. Lesser versions of home console franchises (Resistance: Burning Skies, Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation), first party titles that have fallen flat (PlayStation All-stars) and third party tripe (Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified) will not help sell the Vita to an audience that needs to be convinced that their smartphone and home console are not enough.
While my enthusiasm for the hardware remains, I haven’t spent any significant time with my Vita since Sound Shapes back in August. It has seen some critically acclaimed games in that time - Virtue's Last Reward must wait until I've finished 999, and I'll be getting an import copy of Persona 4: The Golden for Christmas - but while these titles enjoy an established fan base and critical adoration, they are not system sellers.
Reports suggest that the Vita achieved healthy sales over the Black Friday weekend, thanks to substantial discounts and value-for-money bundles, which included PS+ subscriptions and memory cards. The message is clearer than ever: the Vita is desirable if the price is right. We'll soon discover whether Sony are really listening, willing to sell at a loss to resuscitate a handheld that has been left to flounder for far too long. I agree with Sony that the Vita is a wonderful gadget, and in an ideal world its cost should reflect this, but without the software to support it there is no justifying a premium price point. Sony is definitely moving in the right direction with Vita PS+, but without a large, expensive proprietary memory card subscribers may only scratch the surface of what’s on offer.
I have been very critical of Sony's handling of the Vita over the last nine months, but that's because I desperately want for the platform to succeed. I am frustrated by their inaction and, looking ahead to 2013, I see nothing in the Vita’s near future capable of turning things around. Perhaps the Vita's future lies in a pairing with the PlayStation 4, but you have to wonder whether it can survive that long. Without a uniform price cut and/or a huge exclusive, I fear that it is well on its way to becoming an expensive failure, one that Sony can ill afford. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.