I’ll admit it; I’m a bit enamored with my PS Vita. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent on the thing. In fact, I’ve spent more time on the PS Vita than on any other console this year. There is no shortage of great titles on the PS Vita. Add in a backlog of PSP games available for download, games that transfer generally well to the PS Vita (and at times improved with the system’s second analog stick), and you have a console with a wealth of content to explore.
But therein lies the problem: while there are many gameplay experiences to be had on the PS Vita, it’s stifled by its lack of substantial memory. With no on-board memory, you’ll need to purchase a separate memory card to play and download games. Most people won’t pay the $99 for the 32GB memory card and opt for one of the smaller, less expensive 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB memory card. It’s just not enough, especially with the memory requirements of some of the more robust Vita and PSP games. Buying additional memory cards just to have the ability to buy more games on PSN is incredibly cost prohibitive.
With so much PSN content to be enjoyed on the PS Vita, you’re forced into being incredibly frugal with your memory, picking only a few of your favorite games. Constantly transferring content back and forth between the Vita and the computer or PS3 to free up additional memory is a less than desirable experience. Even my cellphone has 16GB of on-board memory (not to mention the 16GB memory card it came with) that it hardly needs. It wasn’t until I purchased a discounted (I use that term very loosely) 32GB memory card that I began to really appreciate the Vita; having my favorite games just a few “touches” away without having to change out game cards makes on-the-go gaming seamless. Unfortunately, Sony has made it harder and more costly just to enjoy their library of games.
The PS Vita could take some advice from the PSP Go; it was a step in the right direction. Including 16GB of on-board memory and a Memory Stick Micro slot for up to 32GB of additional memory made it easy for gamers to download a decent amount of PSP titles out of the box and without having to worry about changing UMDs. It made the system much more portable, making it easier to play a variety of different games without having to carry a separate container. Unfortunately for the PSP Go, the price was a bit steep for another PSP and its missing UMD drive alienated those looking to upgrade (although in the PSP Go’s defense, that wasn’t really their market). However, the concept was sound and should have been carried over to the PS Vita.
A better idea for the PS Vita? Drop the WI-Fi/3G version altogether and instead, offer only the WI-Fi system at $299 with at least 16GB (preferably 32GB) of on board memory with the expandable, proprietary memory slot. More memory, more potential for game and media purchases through PSN. Plus, the 3G is unnecessary. You can’t adequately stream Netflix or play games online on 3G, nor would anyone want to with the exorbitant monthly data costs. Plus, the ubiquity of free Wi-Fi diminishes the value of this function.
I would even go as far as removing the game disc slot altogether and offer no games at retail locations, making the PS Vita a download only console. No more physical manufacturing and distribution costs and part of the savings can be passed on to the consumers in less expensive downloadable titles or cheaper proprietary memory cards. Hell, the PS Vita games bought at retail include just the game disc with no instruction manual so any charm of purchasing a physical copy is lost.
If Sony scratched our collective backs with some on-board memory, maybe we’d be more apt to purchase their ridiculously priced memory cards, but making this separate memory card purchase a requirement out of the box is just mean. Sony must have forgotten, but they had the right idea with the PSP Go, offering a platform with on-board memory to push their online store. While the PS Vita as a whole takes a few evolutionary steps forward with its second analog stick and touch controls, it takes a step back with its lack of any on-board memory. Maybe Sony will learn from this omission and offer, in the future, a version of the Vita with the much needed additional memory. Hopefully this is the case, as there is wealth of content for the PS Vita on PSN that shouldn’t be ignored.