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The Vita Interview

February 21, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

The iPad 3 is heavily rumored to be launching in March, and whether or not it is a big technical leap over the iPad 2, Apple is presumably going to be launching iPads year-in and year-out, and soon they will be on par, right? Does that kind of thing concern you?

SR: Well, I don't think it concerns me at all. And you have to understand, like I said earlier, I'm a fan of all these devices. I really honestly am. I'm an iPad owner, and that's not something that I'm ashamed to admit, of course. And I'm also telling you that as soon as I got my launch edition of the PlayStation Vita, that iPad is absolutely gathering dust.

And why? It's because there's a totally different kind of premium experience that I can have on my Vita.

My iPad is now relegated to a handful of emails here and there, and when I want a gaming experience I am going to pick up my Vita, so it doesn't concern me if the iPad has more horsepower or something along those lines, because the PlayStation Vita is specifically built with gamers in mind, and the iPad is not. It's a multifunctional device.

So there's a place for both of these devices in our world, and I firmly believe that is true.

We recently spoke to Ben Cousins, who is heading up Ngmoco's new studio in Sweden. He says that he sees tablet play patterns as being more like consoles and less like smartphones. He said specifically that they could support games like Uncharted and Skyrim, and that's what he's going for.

While you're right that right now that there isn't necessarily a problem, I think there's a strong chance that there are people out there that have the talent and the ability who are going to be making it a problem for you. What do you have to say to that?

SR: I think it's fair enough. There's a lot of people making bold predictions out there, making bold bets. Let's just say that that was the case, that the scenario that you just outlined for me... I mean, you're still talking about tablets that cost 500 dollars, right? That's a pretty significant investment. And then I can guarantee you that if a Skyrim-style experience is going to come onto those platforms, it's not going to be for 99 cents.

You're talking about a totally different paradigm in tablet gaming, and if you're asking for all of that, with the experience that you're missing from having those tactile controls like the sticks and buttons, it's a totally different experience. So I think there's a ways to go before that scenario comes true.

I do believe there's a spot for tablet gaming out there. When you do the research, you can see console-like patterns of play times, meaning extended periods of time, but again, for the premium experience that people are used to on their consoles, you're going to need some of those traditional controls that all touch device just can't offer. And again, if you're paying for a device that only has touch controls, and you're paying what you're going to pay for a dedicated gaming console, I think the hardcore group is still going to lean towards the portable consoles.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss

You can't just talk about the Vita in isolation, paying for the system, because people do have to buy the memory cards and they can get really expensive, really fast. Are you comfortable with the accessories?

SR: Sure. I hear you. But, again, it's still cheaper than what we're talking about for a current-generation device like the iPad, by a pretty wide margin.

Do you see Nintendo with the 3DS, or do you see Apple with the iPad as more of your direct competitor?

SR: In the portable space, specifically?

With the Vita, yeah.

SR: I think that those guys are on pretty equal footing. They're different crowds, too. I think the one thing that the iPad has over the consoles is the fact that it's a game console disguised as a device that can be appropriated in the business workplace, right? I think that's probably the major difference.

When you have a 3DS or a Vita in your hand, you are proudly proclaiming, "I am a gamer, and I am playing games." I think the tradeoff when you go to a tablet device is that you don't get those controls. So you can secretly play your games, if you will, but you're missing out on the full gaming experience that is available with the dedicated consoles. Does that make sense?

When the 3DS came out there was all this hue and cry about how it was dead on arrival, and then Nintendo dropped the price and it bounced back. Are you taking notice of that?

SR: Well, absolutely, and really it just kind of proves the point that I'm making -- in that there's going to be a healthy market for dedicated handheld gaming. And I think the point you're making is maybe that market only exists when the price comes down to a lower level. And only time will tell.

I think that, again, the PS Vita, I think it's inarguable that it's a premium experience over what the 3DS has to offer. It's all about what kind of great software will appear on both platforms. I think that in addition to the lowering of the price, when Nintendo came out with a few key franchises on the 3DS, that is when it started to take off.

And you saw the same phenomenon in Japan, when Monster Hunter took hold for the PSP. Very late in the lifecycle, that machine just took off like crazy. When you're talking about portable game titles in a relatively small gaming market, that were selling three, four million copies late in the lifecycle of a platform, that's pretty amazing.

Of course we take note of all those things, and we're really confident that we've got a great launch lineup, and a lot of great things in the works for the next couple of years for the PS Vita, and it's a machine that we're proud of. We think when gamers get it in their hands they will fall in love with it.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

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