Playstation Plus Logo

PlayStation Plus Update – June 2015

After several months than have left gamers with mixed feelings over the offerings provided by Sony Computer Entertainment with regards to the games available as part of the monthly Instant Games Collection, today Sony unveiled the games that we are being treated to as PlayStation Plus members for June 2015 and it’s an interesting selection…

The big game that Sony are promoting this time is the inclusion of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes for the PS4 and while this is certainly set to be the “showcase” title for the month, for many it already seems to be a disappointment with the game being a cut-down offering and not really being perceived as a full game by many, in the same way that Gran Turismo 5 Prologue was on the PS3.

Supporting this on the PS4 is the turn-based strategy game Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition while PS3 owners are being treated to Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and the platformer Cloudberry Kingdom.

Unlike last time when the PS Vita had four titles, this month we are (as with the PS3) only getting two games and both of these are Cross Buy games shared with the PS4. The first of these is the brand new game Super Exploding Zoo developed by the same team who brough you Hohokum and it’s a blend of puzzle, strategy and arcade action.

Joining this is the 80s influenced Futuridium EP Deluxue which takes it’s inspiration from the Commodore 64 classic Uridium but wrapping it up in a brand new 3D look. It’s a game we loved playing here and it’s well worth taking a look at.

The only thing we are disappointed at is the overall offerings for the Vita. While we certainly don’t want to go into the Indie / AAA debate, both the PS3 and PS4 have what could be regarded as being high-budget titles in their games this month alongside indie titles, whereas the Vita is only receiving indie games, and these are ones that are being shared with the PS4. If anything, PS4 owners are getting the best out of PS+ this month with four games and PS Vita owners are being left out in the cold with what many feel are lesser offerings than their console counterparts.

Leaving PlayStation Plus:

  • Ether One (PS4)
  • Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (PS4)
  • The Unfinished Swan (PS Vita, PS3, PS4)
  • Race the Sun (PS Vita, PS3. PS4)
  • Murasaki Baby (PS Vita)
  • Hohokum (PS Vita, PS3, PS4)

Entering PlayStation Plus:

  • Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (PS4)
  • Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition (PS4)
  • Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PS3)
  • Cloudberry Kingdom (PS3)
  • Futuridium EP Deluxe (PS Vita, PS4)
  • Super Exploding Zoo (PS Vita, PS4)
Blog

The Future of Dedicated Portable Gaming

Death.

That is what experts predict the future of dedicated gaming portable devices will be. It’s an argument that seems to hold water: PS Vita has a user base of around 10 million units worldwide, while 3DS has a more robust 50 million units. That’s respectable, but even those two combined don’t come close to the PS3’s 80 million worldwide units. Even the PS4’s 20 million units since its launch in November 2013 doubles the Vita’s sales to date (Vita having had 2 years more than PS4 in the market), and almost reaching half of the 3DS sales (3DS having been on sale since February 2011).

What’s even scarier than the dedicated portable devices’ showing against their home console counterparts, however, are the numbers from the ever-growing smart-device market.

It is predicted that by 2016, two billion people (a quarter of the world’s population) will own a smartphone. Not only that, but it seems that around 50% of people who own a smartphone use it occasionally for playing games.

This means an install base of one billion across the world. And the bad news doesn’t end there.

Profitability is a big word in entertainment and gaming is no different. However, profit margins seem to be much higher in the smartphone gaming market than in the dedicated gaming market.

While “World of Warcraft” (which can easily be considered a statistical anomaly) continues to be the world’s top-grossing videogame, the runner up (at least by 2012’s standards), 2010’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops” has raked in $1.5 billion. [GTA V has since gone up to second place, surpassing Black Ops and selling well over $2 billion. The point still applies, however].

That may sound like a lot (and according to my bank account, it is), we have to take into consideration Black Ops’ $25 million production budget. While this still yields an over 4000% return on investment, let’s take a look at another success story.

By 2013, “Clash of Clans” reported almost $900 million in profit, or over half a million dollars a day. That’s mighty close to Black Ops’ $1.5 billion. What’s more, the development budget of “Clash of Clans” was probably between $25.000 and $250.000, at least at first.

If my math serves correctly, that is a 40000% return on investment, at least. So, it is 10 times more profitable (in relation to its production budget) than Call of Duty: Black Ops.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably reached two conclusions: I like numbers, and you might as well say goodbye to dedicated portable gaming devices.

But! Hold your horses.

Sony reported during their 2013 E3 Conference that Vita has an estimated attach rate of 10 (meaning, in average, each Vita user purchases 10 games). To put that into perspective, the attach rate of the PS3 is just 4. [Note to the reader: you can watch the entire conference where they announce the Vita attach rate, HERE. You can thank IGN for the video. I do].

Also, developers who are looking to making games for their creative kick (rather than the more mobile-market, revenue-oriented IAP system) seem really happy with both the variety of the ecosystem and the return on their investment for the platform.

3DS is doing the Nintendo thing (by “the Nintendo thing” I mean not really caring and doing well with, mostly, first party games), and while it may seem underwhelming by DS standards, it’s still pretty solid.

At the end of the day, however, developers and gamers talk to each other via the latter’s wallet.

And while it may seem like the market share for dedicated portable gaming devices is shrinking compared to the glory days of the aforementioned DS or even the GameBoy and PSP, gamers have spoken again and again in unison (again, by purchasing games on these platforms) about the undeniable charm of dedicated gaming on the go.

A hybrid may emerge, however, where smartphone technology and dedicated portables unite.

There have been attempts at this, of course, from Nokia’s N-Gage to even Nvidia’s Shield (which of course wasn’t a phone but used smartphone software), neither of which were commercially successful. You can always try your hand at one of the many Chinese offerings, too, some of which seem to be quite good.

What does the future hold, then, for dedicated portable gaming?

It may seem that the answer is not death, but uncertainty. Uncertainty, however, not as to whether or not dedicated portable gaming will exist or not, but rather what shape it will take.

And you know what? I can live with that.

News

NA PlayStation Store Update – 26th May 2015

Another week, another sale! This week Sony has decided to focus on Playstation Plus subscribers and give them a sale. There are other sales going on at the moment, but sadly, none of them affect our dearly beloved handheld.

Below you can find this week’s new games and offers. Will you be picking anything up this week? Can we maybe tempt you in with some eight-legged fun with Octodad? Or will the iOS-ported Badland charm you due to the physicality of its controls?

Playstation Plus Sale

  • Atelier Ayesha Plus: The Alchemist of Dusk – PS+ Sale Price $27.99, Original Price $39.99
  • Helldivers: Turning up the Heat Edition – PS+ Sale Price $17.99, Original Price $19.99
  • Hyperdevotion Noire: Goddess Black Heart– PS+ Sale Price $27.99, Original Price $39.99
  • Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines – PS+ Sale Price $14.99, Original Price $19.99

New Games

  • Badland Game of the Year $11.99 for PS+ Members, $14.99 otherwise.
  • Invizimals: The Resistance $14.99
  • Octodad: Dadliest Catch $14.99

Anything for you this week? Let us know in the comments below. And remember to keep visiting Vita Player for all your Vita needs (and more importantly, wants).

sony-playstation-vita-memory-card-64gb

PS Vita – Thanks for the memory (cards)…

It’s a constant frustration with the PlayStation Vita that there never seems to be enough space on our memory cards. With many of us having being fortunate enough to have PlayStation Plus membership packages, and the ever-reliance on digital content for the console, even the largest of memory cards doesn’t seem to last more than a couple of months so we’re left with an ever increasing need to either continually buy more or larger memory cards or continually make use of Content Manager to maximise the storage space at our disposal.

Even though we’re trying to help PS Vita owners through our own PlayStation Vita Memory Card Guide giving as much advice and information as we can to get the most out of this aspect of the console, it’s still not ideal. The Vita is still being held back by some fundamental problems with the current infratructure surrounding its storage and rather than improving, this situation seems to be getting steadily worse…

While the PS Vita supports a range of memory cards of differing sizes ranging from 4Gb up to a healthy 64Gb, we still haven’t heard anything more about an official release for the 64Gb cards in the West. While still considerably more expensive than their MicroSD counterparts, improved distribution of this vital storage would make a huge difference to Vita owners, as would the introduction of cards with even greater storage capacity. While there are cheap 128Gb MicroSD cards on the market at the moment, reputable brands are currently selling for the same price as imported 64Gb PS Vita cards so even if 128Gb PS Vita cards were possible I wouldn’t expect to see them available for under £100, even imported.

The real problem we are currently facing, especially in the UK right now, is of a shortage of basic memory cards. The main distributor for Sony Computer Entertainment software, hardware and accessories is Birmingham-based Centresoft and all they are shipping to retailers are the PS Vita Mega Packs. Infact, these are the only products that they are being supplied with by SCEE right now. While there is no denying the incredible value for money that these offer to consumers, they are also incredibly impractical to gamers. Both my wife and daughter are now proud PS Vita owners and each own several memory cards out of necessity. My wife’s collection started with an 8Gb LEGO Mega Pack which was 80% full just from using the included games, and she needed a second card just to cope with her existing PSM and Minis collection.

In my daughters case, she had had PS+ for a while with her PS3 and thanks to Cross Buy has several cards worth of games! Even buying her the Indie Mega Pack (containing plenty of games she already enjoyed playing on my Vita / PS3) has already left her short of space. Yes, I could go into a store to purchase more Mega Packs for both of them, but that still leaves the issue of either of them not downloading the bundled games, depending on Content Manager or – in stores at least – depending on purchasing pre-owned memory cards. It’s a sad state of affairs that the only way at present to buy any memory card greater than 8Gb for the PS Vita in the UK is pre-owned in a retail store or online and that simply shouldn’t be the case.

The PS Vita has a massive range of games available at retail but we are being told almost daily that the Vita’s future in terms of software lies in digital downloads but if that really is the case then Sony Computer Entertainment need to show us support NOW and give us affordable and readily available storage for the console so we have somewhere to store these games. We want to buy games for the PS Vita but at the moment it feels as if SCEE are doing everything possible to stop us.

Unfortunately, unlike the PSP in the latter stages of its lifecycle, there still haven’t been any third party memory cards released for the PS Vita (even allowing this would make a difference and at the very least would drive prices down as it did with the PSP) and sadly the technology doesn’t exist to allow the use of MicroSD cards with the Vita. While adaptors were developed for the PSP to use them, because of the size of the Vita’s memory cards, at the moment noone has been able to develop a method to use anything other than the official cards on a Vita.

So for now our only choice is to shop around online for the best and most affordable storage options we can, rely more on Content Manager or re-download titles from the store or hope that we find more of the future releases in the Mega Pack series to our liking. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed for some improvements in the future…

2013 Infected Wars PS Vita

Game Review: 2013: Infected Wars (PS Vita)

PS Vita has nicely settled into a niche in the last year and a half or so: if you’re into indies and JRPGs, this is the machine for you. If you like anything else, the library might be a bit lacking. And if you’re into shooters, your options are a bit limited: the forgettable Resistance: Burning Skies, the equally bland Unit 13, the undeniably awful Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified (it should have stayed classified) and the absolutely magnificent Killzone: Mercenary.

And that is it, more or less. Or was, at least. Action Mobile Games have ported their iOS shooter to Vita, and after running and gunning through its campaign, I can confidently say that it has made the jump to our beloved handheld rather gracefully.

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Project Root PS Vita

Project Root EU PS Vita and PS4 Cross Buy Now Active

When released in the US, Reverb Triple XP’s superb top-down shooter Project Root was released as a Cross Buy title for both the PS Vita and PS4 but for some unknown reason it was released as two separate purchased here in the EU. Aware of the issue, the developers have been working hard with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe to rectify this and earlier this week the Cross Buy function has now been enabled allowing gamers who have purchased either version of the game to download the other free of charge.

If you have purchased both versions of the game prior to this at present we don’t know whether you would be able to seek a refund from SCEE for your second purchase of the game. On release through the store, there was no mention of the game being Cross Buy, nor was there a mention of this in the Official PlayStation blog so at the time of release it wasn’t advertised as being available for both platforms for a single purchase. Had that actually been the case then a refund would certainly be in order but as the Cross Buy promotion is only being added at this stage we believe that the PSN Store terms and conditions regarding price changes would apply in this case.

Regardless, it’s a great game and good to see that more gamers will get the chance to experience it on either their PS Vita or PS4. Now hopefully we’ll see an update in the near future to add PlayStation TV compatability…

Podcast

The Vita Player Podcast Episode 4

The Vita Player Podcast is back for our fourth episode and our usual hosts Simon Plumbe and Sven Harvey are joined on the mic by David Jarman to talk all things PS Vita and PlayStation TV. It’s a packed 69 minute show, with plenty on offer this time with our show highlights including:

PlayStation Mobile Logo

PlayStation Mobile Update – 20th May 2015

Even though there are now less than two months before PlayStation Mobile comes to a close in terms of new releases, it’s still not preventing developers from producing new titles or updating their existing games so there’s still time for a few gems to come our way before they are lost forever. This week it’s more fortunate than ever to get a selection of PSM titles as well as there have been no new releases at all for the PS Vita although we do have the physical release of Disney Infinity 2.0 to look forward to at the end of this week.

New Releases

  • Appli Archives IDAC Escape Game Pack 7 (HAMSTER Corporation) – mobile games compilation
  • Appli Archives NIKOLI Crossword 3 (HAMSTER Corporation) – mobile games compilation
  • Appli Archives NIKOLI Slitherlink 3 (HAMSTER Corporation) – mobile games compilation
  • Appli Archives TEAM RISE Vol 4 (HAMSTER Corporation) – mobile games compilation
  • Life Born (Takuya Nagayasu)

Unfortunately, as always, all of the Appli Archives range only offer Japanese text for their releases so this may cause problems for many Western gamers so please bear this in mind before making any purchases of these.

Updates

  • Gorillas 3D (Junglingo)

News

  • Niels Vriezen, the developer of SPIKE Says, has been in touch and posting on his Twitter account over at https://twitter.com/SpectrumCRTS asking if any PS Vita owners have any suggestions for anything they would like to see in the final update for the game that he is planning to submit to Sony before the update deadline in July. If you’d like to assist and be a part of the game, send him a message via Twitter.
News

NA PlayStation Store Update – 19th May 2015

Another quite week on the front lines for the Vita when it comes to sales, but we have two new games to pick up the slack.

An indie and a double-A action RPG make up the lineup, with a permanent discount on a funky racer bringing up the rear.

Did you pick anything up during last weekend’s $5 Flash Sale? Freedom Wars was looking mighty good at that price!

Permanent Price Changes

  • Table Top Racing: was $7.99, is now $2.99

“Extended Play” Sale

  • Motorstorm RC Ps Vita “Complete Edition” PS+ $2.00, Sale Price $4.00, Regular Price $9.99
  • Sound Shapes Ultimate Bundle PS+ $4.00, Sale Price $8.00, Regular Price $19.99
  • Tales Of Hearts R Season Pass (does not include Tales of Heart R game) PS+ $11.99, Sale Price $17.99, Regular Price $29.99

New Games

  • Alien Shooter ($7.99)
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed ($39.99)

PS Vita DLC

Alien Shooter

  • A Fight for Life ($3.99)
  • An Experiment ($3.99)

Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed

  • Bonus Quest ($0.99)
  • Dengekiko’s Swimsuit (Free)
  • Difficult Quest ($0.99)
  • Exciting Swimsuit Set (Free)
  • Famitsu’s Swimsuit (Free)
  • Mage’s Gift Vol. 1 (Free)
  • Mage’s Gift Vol. 2 (Free)

Will you be grabbing anything this week?

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus PS Vita 02

Game Review: Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (PS Vita)

Oh, what a long way we’ve come since the days when video games consisted of two rectangles playing “ping pong” with a “ball”. From Mario to Zelda, from Uncharted to Halo, the video game experience of the XXI century is one of storytelling and wonder, of huge worlds and endless exploring.

But that’s not all. There are experiences in between: those that hanker back to a simpler time, focusing purely on game play; those that let you become something that may not even exist in the known universe. And then, there are games that are created for a niche audience. Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is one such game.

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