Vita in the Living Room

This is one of the most unexpected but happy (at least, for me) news in a while.

Sony isn’t quite the market-leading innovator these days, and here they are making a fantastic multilevel move that should make everyone happy. It is supposedly Japan-only for now, but come on Sony, how could you not?

One of the first things you notice is that it’s branded Vita, which is GREAT because the Vita platform as a handheld console is seriously withering. As a long-time fan of PlayStation, Sony released a phenomenal hardware product with the PS Vita but the market just doesn’t need a super powerful dedicated gaming handheld that’s heavier than a smartphone and can’t do smartphone things. This extends the Vita software ecosystem onto a far more open space…

Which brings me to my second point. The television is still a fairly open space right now, and Sony would be an idiot not to make a grab at it. The television today is just a display; the television as a media portal is a whole new market. A market that has been PROVEN lucrative with products like Roku and Apple TV and countless less-marketed devices. Google has long been attempting to get into the space and the $35 Chromecast is finally a hit; Apple is clearly going to rebuff its Apple TV effort sooner or later if not the rumors of a true Apple television; Amazon is fielding rumors of wanting to get into the living room because they are a media service after all; and Microsoft is putting a ton of focus on media content with the new Xbox One.

And that brings me to the third point. Sony got a huge PR win over Microsoft as gamers puked on the new Xbox One’s new policies of DRM on reselling or trading of games. Sony is appeasing old console gamers by keeping things how they were at least for a while more; meaning, you can just go to a used game store to trade in your game or hand your game disc to a friend if they want to borrow it. However, a PR win is not a sales win and Microsoft’s content strategy could make the Xbox One quite prominent in living rooms. Here, the Vita TV provides a second option for consumers that could take eyes away from the Xbox One as a media solution.

And finally the last point. A $99 game console, are ya kidding me!? Okay, it’s not a real console but it plays Vita’s games AND has enough hardware to emulate classic PSP and PS1 titles. Now tell me how that’s not a console. The OUYA was a huge Kickstarter success yet now it’s not quite the same success in big box stores. One of its biggest problems? A scarcity of compelling titles. I mean, come on, what’s the last Android game that you’ve really eagerly awaited to play? There’s a wealth of AAA titles in Sony’s older generations of game consoles, and just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s not fun.

Edit: Specs show the same CPU (ARM Cortex A9 quad-core) and GPU setup as the handheld PS Vita, 1GB of storage, WiFi b/g/n, 1080i output. Power consumption is a shockingly low 2.8W, but then again it’s based on mobile parts. Sony says “will be available first in Japan prior to any other regions, on November 14, 2013.” Sounds good.

Another thought: Nintendo just released a cheaper 2DS handheld that gets rid of a core interaction feature of the 3DS, 3D. Now Sony releases out a Vita system that doesn’t use the new touch features but uses the same DualShock controller that’s been around since PS1. Guess we don’t need gimmicks. Game on.

Everything leads to everything else.