The PlayStation Vita looks awesome and I want one. In fact, I’m a Sony fan and I personally think the upcoming handheld is exactly the kind of device the average “hardcore” gamer could love like no other before. Two analog sticks? Yes please.
After research and some rather unwanted personal financial honesty, however, I can no longer recommend picking up a launch Vita in good conscience to those on gaming on a budget. I say this for two reasons, number one being the tendency of handheld makers to release improved versions of a device throughout its lifecycle. We’ll come to number two later.
With reason number one, we look at the evolution of Vita’s predecessor, the PlayStation Portable. The PSP had several regional launch dates, finally becoming available worldwide in September 2005. Less than two years later, Sony released the PSP 2000, also known as the Slim. Lighter and thinner, it was a welcome change to the rather bulky original. Unfortunately, buyers of the PSP 2000 were, only thirteen months later, informed of yet another, vastly superior revision. In October 2008, the PSP 3000 was launched, this time featuring a built in microphone, an improved LCD screen featuring an increased color range, five times the contrast ratio, half the pixel response time, new sub-pixel structure, and anti-reflective technology to improve outdoor playability.
Thus we see that the 2008 PSP 3000 was immensely better than the launch version. However, the advantage, doesn’t stop there. Not only did you get a better handheld for the money by not purchasing at launch, you also had a far larger game library to choose from and notably cheaper prices on proven hits.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m well aware that buying a launch PSP and then a PSP 3000 three years later was not a problem for the truly dedicated gamer with plenty of funds for gaming. For many others though, such as several college friends who jumped on board early, it was a blow.
The second reason I can’t recommend purchasing a Vita at launch is the now surprisingly high price of entry. Recent revelations made clear that Vita requires a memory card to play most games. The memory card, however, is not included in the purchase. Worse, the card – which comes in 4, 8, 16, and 32GB sizes – is proprietary and ranges from being three to six times more expensive than identically sized cards. This means that the entry price for the cheaper, Wi-Fi only PlayStation Vita with the smallest, 4GB memory card will be at least $275. That’s BEFORE any games, cases, or accessories. You don’t want to know the price for a 3G-enabled model with a 32GB card. That baby will cost you about $420, and that’s without buying a game!
So what happens if you want to actually play a game on your Vita the day you buy it? Considering the rumored $40 price tag of Vita retail games, it is literally impossible to get a Vita that can run a full retail game for less than $305. Yes, my gaming friends, the cheapest Vita, with the smallest 4GB memory card and one game, is more expensive than a brand new 320GB PlayStation 3. If you are looking for the 3G version, a game, and the maximum available memory, your wallet will be $460 lighter.
And thus, I can’t recommend a launch-day Vita purchase to those on a budget and still feel good about myself. With what they could get alternatively for those same gaming dollars, such as a 160GB PS3 with a game or 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect – both of which now have massive libraries – the value just isn’t quite there.
Think I’m a moronic, flame-war fanning, hit-seeking jackwad that should rot forever just for writing this drivel? Tell me about it in the comments section, I dare you. Happy gaming to the rest of you. May we all one day enjoy our own lovely PlaySation Vitas whether purchased at launch or some later date.