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Sony avoids PSP's mistake by encouraging fewer home console ports Exclusive
Sony avoids PSP's mistake by encouraging fewer home console ports
September 7, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

The main draw of the PSP, the big promise that was meant to separate it from Nintendo's portables and pull users away from the underpowered Nintendo DS, was that Sony's handheld could deliver console-like experiences on the go.

PSP's console-quality experiences, though, weren't enough to propel the system to the same heights as its competitors in the West -- so why hasn't Sony adjusted its strategy for its new portable, in light of PSP's past difficulties and PS Vita's current struggles?

Sony's marketing VP for handhelds and consoles John Koller admits that PS Vita's message of "console-like games on portables" is essentially the same as PSP's, but argues that there was a significant problem with how developers approached that idea before.

"The issue that happened with PSP is we got overrun with ports," he explains to Gamasutra. "It became very difficult for us to define what made PSP unique. The content development became a bit unstructured or decentralized, in that we got a lot of content that was on PlayStation 2 and got thrown over to the handheld."

Koller believes Sony learned its lesson with that problem on PSP and is actively taking steps to avoid repeating that mistake on PS Vita. He says portable content "isn't something consumers play because they've left the living room. It's something that [needs to be] unique, and defines the Vita experience."

A lot of PS Vita's early catalog has so far been made up of console ports -- which may have contributed to the troubles Sony has faced with building momentum for the system so far -- but now the company is strongly recommending against and guiding publishers away from ports.

Koller points to a couple upcoming PS Vita exclusives that are unique interpretations of popular console franchises, and says that Sony tells publishers to "Follow what Ubisoft is doing with Assassin's Creed. Follow what Activision is doing with Call of Duty."

With that approach in mind, Koller says, "The messaging is similar [between PSP and PS Vita], but I think the output is going to be quite different."

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Mike Kasprzak
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That's nice and all, but in a market where exclusives are becoming less and less financially viable for developers, I don't know what to say. Sorry, we both need more buyers.

Andrew Sipotz
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So.. they say that but the only thing I'm seeing on shelves is ports with a few exceptions (the amazing Gravity Rush is a must have). At this point, the console needs something, anything, port or not. And unless Sony is willing to foot part of dev costs, theres no way Vita is a viable platform to launch an exclusive on. It pains me to say it too, Vita is the console I've always wanted but it's failing the oldest lesson in the industry, you gotta have software to sell hardware.

Joe Zachery
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WOW so what are all the PS3 Sony games that will also be on Vita? Sly, PS All Stars etc etc. I see the same issue happen here. Then the original games in those franchise made for Vita are created by C team developing teams.

Jeremy Reaban
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I've never thought that was the mistake. Not everyone who owns a Vita or PSP owns a PS3 or even PS2.

And rather than simply making ports of console games, developers don't seem to be making anything. It's already gone months without getting any retail releases.

It's going to be a small miracle if the Vita comes close to what the PSP did (which to date, has actually sold more than the PS3)

And the thing is, many console games would be perfect for portable play. The Elder Scrolls, Borderlands, X-com. That Borderlands 2 won't be on the Vita is crazy. It's a potential killer app that Sony has ignored.

Eric Geer
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I would buy a Vita if Borderlands 2 was on it.

koko tento
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Actually the psp had one of the best libraries of all time.

Better than the ps3. Yeah it did have ports. But it also had the best versions of older games like star ocean 1, or ff tactics but it also had amazing exclusives like crisis core and type zero


the hilarious thing is the vita is 99 percent console port which is why it will never even do 1 tenth what the psp did in any region

evan c
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So Cross play is dead?

Craig Page
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I don't mind the console ports, as long as they're done properly. It looks like all of the PS1 downloadable games are just emulated on the PS Vita, they don't even bother to resize the game to use up the full screen, or make the text bigger. If that weren't bad enough, then Sony goes on to sell these PS1 games for $6 or $7.

There's no way to know before wasting your money, because Sony's online store is something out of the 1990s with no demos, screenshots, user reviews, nothing.